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Great Migration Wall Hanging

Submitted by: Barbara Sonek
School/University/Affiliation: Teacher: PS 40Q

Date: September 1, 1998

Grade Level(s): 4, 5, 6, 7


  • Arts/History

Duration: three to four 45 minute sessions

Description: Based on the book Great Migration by Jacob Lawrence, students will create a wall hanging depicting the migration north by African Americans in the early part of this century.

Goals: To have students work together to create a wall hanging.

Objectives: Each student will create one panel of the wall hanging, which when put together with the work of their classmates will tell the story of the great migration.


  1. Book: Great Migration by Jacob Lawrence
  2. Construction Paper (preferably non-fading paper)
  3. Scissors
  4. Glue
  5. Pencils
  6. Large sheets of paper at least 30×40 for background of wall hanging, markers


Students will read the book Great Migration and examine the art style of Jacob Lawrence.

  1. Students will discuss the historical implications of the migration northward by African Americans.
  2. Teachers will cut out squares 12″x12″ or larger to each student or each group of students for their background from various colors.
  3. Students may choose a topic for their square. The migration, the drought, factories and railroads, prejudice etc.
  4. Instead of using paint to recreate the “flat postery” effect of Lawrence students will cut out shapes and forms from construction paper depicting human forms, factories, railroad stations etc.
  5. Students should not clutter their square with details, but rather create an abstract panel that tells a story using form, shape and color.
  6. Students glue their shapes to their square.
  7. Students can retell the story by writing panels to be placed on the wall hanging using markers.
  8. Teacher assembles all the panels to create the wall hanging.
  9. Using markers, students create borders around the wall hanging as well as between each panel.

Assessment: Students will display their wall hanging in a prominent place in the school to be viewed by all.

Useful Internet Resource:

Jacob Lawrence – The Migration Series