Youth Art Month – How to create a school wide display on one bulletin board


YAM (Youth Art Month) is just around the corner and for those of us in Massachusetts or New Hampshire, it’s going to come even quicker due to February vacation!

Each year my district participates in a YAM exhibition outside of our schools.  Last year I decided to take the celebration back into the building, but I didn’t have the space or time to put up a school wide art show….so I decided to create a collaborative bulletin board display.

Youth Art Month Collaborative Display

Youth Art Month Collaborative Display

Check out below for specific details as to how I created the display.

To prepare for this display, I first calculated how many students I have, about 475 last year…this year I’m closer to 450. This year I’m going to give a yellow square to all the staff at my school, and ask that they complete one for the board, which will help complete the blank yellow squares.

I also decided which bulletin board I wanted to put the display on. I put this up on a board by the front lobby of my school, so it’s a prime location for everyone to see. The bulletin board I use is 48″ by 96″.

At this point, I calculated how large the squares should be.  I knew I didn’t want them too small, so I started with a size I thought might work (3 inches), and worked from there. The final size I decided on, based on the size of my board, and the number of students I have is 2.75″. It did take some calculations and sketching to figure this out. If you feel a bit overwhelmed figuring out what size to make your squares, and your board is smaller then mine, leave me a comment with the size of your board, and I can help you figure it out.  If your board is bigger, no worries, just float it in the center of your board!

Now onto the pattern making! I grabbed a piece of graph paper (I actually printed it out, since I didn’t have graph paper that had small squares) and drew out a pixelated version of the text I wanted to include (Celebrate YAM!). When I came up with this idea, I had just created a Thing 1 and Thing 2 hat, where I had to chart the knitting pattern, so the idea of charting this pattern was something I had some practice with.  This pattern allowed me to calculate how many blue squares I needed for the text, and how many yellow squares I needed for the background. I also followed this pattern when putting the display up.

Here is a copy of my pattern for your use.

YAM Chart

I opted blue and gold for the 2 contrasting colors since they are my districts colors (Go AB, Blue & Gold!), but you can use any colors you want!

The last component for this board is the banner and info sheet.  The banner hangs above the display, and is the sentence students completed on their square: “Art is important to be because….” The info sheet shares more about Youth Art Month, and shares the students whose work was sent to the YAM exhibits.  Access that file here.  This file is a Google doc. Either make a copy to edit for yourself (File>Copy).  OR, if you aren’t familiar with using Google doc’s, just download it, and edited in Microsoft Word. 

If you are worried about completing this before March, no worries!  It only takes 10-15 minutes to complete the squares.  That includes time to talk about YAM, brainstorm what the students should write on the square, and complete the squares. If you have kinders, brainstorm as a class, and then go around and scribe what they tell you. It’s still super quick!

If your students can complete the squares the first week in March (if you are like me and it takes a week to see all your classes) and you can hang the squares at the end of each day, you’ll have this up by March 6, with plenty of March still left to celebrate! I found that putting it up as the squares were completed was a fun surprise to students and faculty to see what it would spell!  It definitely drew more attention by doing it that way.  Students who had completed their square that day wanted to find theirs, and those who hadn’t had art yet were wondering what was going on.

If you do this in your school, please make sure to comment and share!  And if you have any questions, leave me a comment, and I will get back to you.


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