Graffiti Boards

Students exploring "what's on their minds"

Graffiti Boards with Young Children


Students learn from capturing and exploring “what’s on their minds.” As they interact with people and texts, they search for patterns that connect their current experiences to past events, texts, and feelings. Through these connections they are able to make sense of those experiences. They also attend to difference, to the “yet to be understood.” As students read or engage in an experience, their initial thinking and responses can easily be lost, fleeting in and out of their minds. They need a way to quickly capture these responses that does not require them to organize their thinking or express that thinking in formal ways. Through quickly capturing their initial thinking by jotting words and thoughts and sketching images, they can then revisit that thinking to share with others or to organize that thinking through a web or chart.



  1. A large sheet of chart paper
  2. Markers of various colors or pastels or colored pencils



  1. Students engage in some type of shared experience, such as listening to a read aloud, participating in a science observation or experiment, observing an event, or listening to a musical composition.
  2. During the shared experience, students sit in small groups at tables with a large piece of chart paper in the middle of the table. At various points throughout the experience, students are invited to stop and write their observations and reflections on the paper in the form of graffiti. Each person takes his or her own corner of the paper and works alone, sketching and writing images, words, and phrases that come to mind. There is no particular organization to those images and words. They are simply written randomly on the graffiti board.
  3. For a read aloud experience, have children listen to the book being read to them, encouraging them to comment on the story. Then introduce the graffiti board and have the children draw as they listen to the book a second time.
  4. The graffiti board can be a large sheet of paper on the floor with all of the children seated around the paper to sketch their responses and then later dictate words to describe their thinking.
  5. Students share their thinking with each other, using the graffiti board as a reference point to remind them of their thinking.
  6. The experience can be extended by creating an organized web, chart, or diagram of their connections from the unorganized thoughts and images on the board.


Graffiti 1

First Grade Graffiti Board Responses to picture book, You Be Me, I’ll Be You.

Graffiti 2

Graffiti 3

Kindergarten children’s graffiti board responses for a Korean book, No Way, Subway.

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