Butterfly Wall Mural

Mariposa Upper Elementary had a large, blank wall and a vision. They wanted to brighten up their lunch space, inspire creativity and celebrate diversity. The principal also wanted to include the students in the creative process. Here is how we worked together to bring the school’s vision to life.

Student Pre-Work:

Mural Lesson, Brainstorming and Sketching 

Students were given a brief lesson by their teachers which outlined:


The Definition of a Mural:

A mural is a large piece of art that can cover a large space and include many different images, ideas, styles and media.


How the mural we all create together should focus on one or two big messages or topics that students want to convey about their school or community.

Examples of Murals:

Students and teachers shared examples of murals in the communtity and discussed:

What makes murals a unique genre?

Why might a mural be a particularly good genre for expressing an activist message?

What messages do these murals convey? How can you tell? How do they make you feel?

What do you like/not like about these murals?


Next, students were asked to open their Cromebooks and go Menti.com, enter a code and create a Word Cloud (see above). They wwere asked two questions:

Question #1: What are some of the first words that come to mind to describe Mariposa students?

Question #2: When you think about what we value at Mariposa (what we stand for), what words come to mind?

Then, students were asked to turn to the supplied poster paper and asked: What images come to mind when you think of those words? How could we convey those words in our mural without using any words? 

Concept Sketches

Inspired by student sketches and word maps, I got to work. I started by measuring the wall and creating an outline of the space in Adobe Illustrator. I then printed the wall outline and began sketching ideas.

Mariposa means butterfly in Spanish, and the Monarch Butterly is their mascot, so butterflies were essential. And the school’s motto is SOAR, which stands for Safety, Ownership, Acceptance & Rearing. SOAR was a common student theme along with butterflies, diversity, fun and kind.

Ultimately, we decided to add a variety of colorful butterflies and hands in various skin tones. 

The Painting Process

Local students and families helped sand and prime the wall with the background color. I then sketched the butterflies and hands on the wall and started to paint.

Students were present while I painted — eating snacks and lunch, asking questions and commenting.

They were excited to see the progress!