Cultural Fair Exhibition - Integrating Social Studies, Language and Visual Arts (6-8)


Cultural Fair Exhibition

Introduction and Rationale:

The Cultural Self Awareness phase of Project REACH (Respecting Ethnic and Cultural Heritage) lasts approximately two months.  Begin by introducing the concept of culture as something everybody has, something that helps each of us define our relationship to the world.  The cultural fair project is a way for each student to communicate in visual display some significant aspect of his or her cultural experience.  It is also a way for each student to become aware of the richness of cultural diversity that exists even within a predominantly white school and community.  The Cultural Fair process engages the students in the practice of several basic skills, including writing, research, personal interviewing, planning and design, and visual communication.  It is a significant community event to which all students, parents, relatives, and other community members are invited.  It is a celebration of the communityís diversity and the great wealth of experience that is available to us because of our differences. 



Self Portrait Sculpture



Working in groups of two, students will be able to assimilate a sculpture using each otherís body parts. The students will be limited to face, neck, shoulders, arms and legs, there will not be any casting of the torso in this creation. They will create a sculpture that represents a positive experience of uniting cultures in a common cause.  This will promote thought and perception.


Materials: Provided by teacher

Plaster gauze

Tepid water

Containers for water


Molding paste

Acrylic Paints



Time Frame:

Five or six, one and one half hour sessions broken down as follows:


April 18

Students will partner up, followed by teacher demonstration of the casting process, partner discussion and drawing of the desired outcome for the sculpture.

April 25

Students will begin by preparing subject (applying Crisco) to the intended body part to be cast, apply plaster gauze and removing the mold.  Taking turns students will cast each body part as needed for the sculpture.


April 26

Same as April 25


May 2

Students will begin to attach parts together, applying molding paste for reinforcement.

Students will begin painting and mounting their pieces onto the desired frame.


May 3

Students will finish mounting, review their work, critique their piece and share with the class. 


The final sculptures will be displayed at the Cultural Fair Event on the evening of May 21st, 2001.


Description of School and Students:

North Middle School is located in the heart of downtown Everett.  Fifty-five percent of our students are on the free and reduced lunch program, and English is the second language for fifteen percent of our population. I teach 8th grade students in the Arts and Science Middle School program (ASMS), which is a school within a school model at our school.  Students may choose to be in the program as sixth graders, and may also join in the seventh and eighth grade if space is available.  The majority of the students in my classroom chose to be a part of the ASMS program in the sixth grade, although a number of students have moved in and out of the program in the past three years.  They tend to be students who do not do well in a conventional classroom.  My eighth grade students reading levels range from fourth grade to college level, yet they share one thing in common, they enjoy project oriented learning activities, and the Arts.  The ASMS program is a comprehensive, hands-on learning program utilizing the Fine Arts as the thread which connects all core subject areas:  Reading, Writing, Social Studies, Science, and Math. 


The entire eighth grade student body at North Middle School, (240 students), are working on Project REACH and the Cultural Fair.  My 60 students are the only group adding the life-casting sculpture to their final project.  The students have just begun to work on their sculptures, and the final pieces will not be finished until the first week of May.  What I have observed is that the students are very excited to work with the materials and create their own sculptures.  I have scheduled one and a half hours, 2 days a week, and on the other 3 days the students are asking to work on their creations.  I will admit this is a very messy process, but the students are helping to clean the room after each session. I will definitely do this art project again.  















































Making an effort to increase student learning by integrating  art will help children gain meaningful context to their lives.