Middle School Lesson Plan: Digital Package Design

It’s not secret I love teaching Digital Art. My only rub with the course is that sometimes I wish the students had a more tangible output. For instance, when you finish a painting you can walk around with that object. It can be a little bit more tricky when it comes to digital work. Sure, you can always print a picture, but it is harder to have a tangible object when you create an animation or video (which we often do).

I introduce graphic design (and pixlr) to my middle school students via a package design project. I use cereal because it is in a rectangle box (easy cover design) and the history of cereal is recent. It is super easy to discuss how the US went from eggs and oatmeal to granola to cereal. And, the cereal box hasn’t changed much since it’s inception. Almost all kid-oriented cereal boxes follow the same format: title, cartoon character, picture of cereal, and offer of free prize. Finally, cereal boxes often directly advertise to kids; it’s advertising they understand. The students use pencil and paper to brainstorm and sketch, digital tools to design and create, and finally they use a print out of their work to actually sculpt their box. The project culminates with a “Press Release Writing Assignment” about the cereal.

Here is our process:
1. Presentation

2. Sketch and brainstorm (I use the image below to keep them on track!)

3. Use Pixlr to digitally create the cover of their box
     –click here for the directions on how to get started
     –click here for a handout I give students with Pixlr Tips and Tricks
     –click here for a gallery of royalty-free PNG transparent images I provide to students
     -students can search for more images on Kiddle or OpenClipArt
     -here is the cereal box template we use (also in the gallery of images I provide to students)

4. Students design a nutrition information slip
5. Students insert their nutrition information slip onto their cereal box and complete the rest of the box (each side should have something on it!)
4. Students email their work to me
5. I print student work
6. Students construct boxes and glue them to cardboard (so they stand up with ease)
7. Students complete the Press Release Writing Assignment

This project is awesome and it has a direction career connection. I love it when my students have an obvious, and direct way, to envision the different careers of artists.

5 thoughts on “Middle School Lesson Plan: Digital Package Design”

  1. Thank you for posting this! I agree. I teach a digital art class and am always looking to transfer what they do on the screen with something they can hold in their hands and something 3D to present in the display cases at school. This is a fantastic way to do that. Thanks again!

  2. Love this project! I want to try it with my students this year! Were the cereal boxes you did the size of actual cereal boxes, or were they smaller? Did you resize anything in Pixlr so that once printed the image remains clear? Thanks for sharing your process!!

  3. Hey Katie. The cereal boxes are about 1/4 the size of an actual cereal box. They are to-scale, however. I just printed on 8.5 x 11 paper as large as the paper would allow, and that is the size they ended up. The cereal template I provided is already 8.5 x 11 scale. So, whatever they put in pixlr, it should print to look the same. I hope this makes sense.

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