“Seedfolks” Character Portraits


Integrating an art project into a reading assignment will help the students use the strategy of forming pictures in their mind as they read. It is a struggle for most of them to read words, interpret their meaning, and hold story details in their mind. Looking for details and remembering characteristics of the people in the book will help the students see the importance of focusing and paying attention so they can use these details to help them paint the character portraits.


All Middle school students will read Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman.The book is about a group of neighbors who turned a vacant city lot into a community garden. Each chapter is devoted to a single character who in his or her own words tells what drew them to the garden, what they planted and how the garden changed their life. In groups of 3 or 4, students will paint portraits of the characters in the book. They will include collage components in the portraits like seed packets or small tools.


The students will: View prints of portraits and collages See a video about the murals in Philadelphia, to show how community projects work. (Our school is in suburban Philadelphia, so many students have seen these murals in person.) Look at collages and mixed media works I have created Use handouts and web searches to find techniques of how to draw human features. Materials: Canvas boards Acrylic paint Masonite boards Seeds and beans for mosaic

Other Information

Benchmark School is a small, private school in suburban Philadelphia. We have students from grade 2 to grade 8. Our students are all struggling readers, but have average to above average intelligence. Our program teaches strategies to help students become better readers and self-advocates who can go on to another school with the skills and tools to maximize their education. We do many cross curricular activities and encourage students to collaborate.

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