My 6th graders have worked really hard these last few sessions – so hard in fact, that many are ahead and already finished (or have just finished) their family shields. This is exciting because typically we always have some stragglers. I always enjoy this unit because I can really learn about students’ families and their interests on a deeper level. Students create the shield using symbols that represent themselves or their family, typically both. I don’t allow them to trace symbols because they should be creating unique, one of a kind family symbols. After creating the shield, we choose a layout that divides our paper into a workable layout (we discuss definitions of this). We also discuss symmetry and balance so that the students understand that they can either have things repeat and reflect or that different symbols can create a sense of balance without being repeated. They we apply all of the techniques we learned in our Multi Material unit (shading, blending, one direction, pressure, etc) and use them to color our shields in. I like having this unit after the multi-material because of the craftsmanship level that I see…it is always impressive.