RED has been piloted in elementary, secondary and adult learning environments. The simple clear message about personal identity provides a multitude of entry points.

The Arts Companion LessonIdentity Sculpture has helped to bring deeper understanding and support of creative expression and discussion of personal identity. When the book RED is explored in depth, it covers many aspects of the curriculum over many grade levels.

LINK Discussion and Writing Prompts 

When planning instruction and considering class groupings, teachers should be aware of and consider the needs of students who may not identify as “male” or “female”, who are transgender, or who are gender-non-conforming. 

Acknowledgement of and respect for individual differences regardless of sex or gender identity will encourage student participation and help students learn to collaborate with and respect others.


Expressive Art Identity Sculpture:

Why art, why sculpture, to support this resource?

The Arts in general provide differentiated entry points for students to engage, learn and represent their understanding of topics and information. As the creative process uses the creative thinking part of the brain, where our emotions, empathy and big ideas reside; the Arts invite noticing, connections and feeling. The Identity Sculpture is created using an additive sculpture method with a variety of materials. This method engages our sensory selves which supports  student creatively and personal expression. 


The materials list for this project seems daunting, but it is very doable! It supports our stewardship of the environment by using natural materials, and reusing materials. Inviting students to be part of the materials collection process encourages their initiative and engagement, as well as builds learning skills.

Options for gathering and collecting materials:

  • Letter to parents (sample letter attached)
  • Reach out to community partners, colleagues, friends, family
  • Value Village has a program called Give to Give which collects materials for educators, for free!

Materials List:

  • one stick/branch per student – Approximate length 30cm(ish) length of a ruler – thickness of adult thumb(ish)
  • one strip of white fabric per student to write on – Old piece of clothing, fabric, bedsheet cut in strips – 3-4cm wide x 30cm long(ish) – shorter and longer strips also work – good to have a few spares!
  • Variety of strips of fabric (patterned, different colors, different textures) cut in strips – 3-4cm wide x 30cm long(ish) – shorter and longer strips also work – the more the better

Store strips and scraps of fabric by color in baggies or tied together

  • markers & pencils
  • variety of natural materials (feathers, acorns, pine-cones, bark etc.)
  • beads
  • discarded costume jewelry (taken apart)
  • selection of thread & ribbon & string 
  • cleaned recycled containers for storage and separation of materials 
  • scissors
  • glue guns (you may need volunteers for younger grades to help with glue gun station)
  • cookie tray or suitable surface to house glue gun when in use (so you don’t burn desk/table)
  • popsicle sticks for attaching (instead of fingers)
  • extra glue sticks
  • photography device to collect student creative process – for assessment and reflection

From reading Red to sculpture creation

Several periods or a few days are required to include all of the learning – book reading and discussion through to the creation of Identity Sculpture. School sites where the project was piloted had 100% engagement of all students. 

  • Read RED – aloud, in pairs, individual
  • Open discussion of book meaning – capture thinking 

What was this story about?

What changed for Red about how he was feeling throughout the story?

LINK Discussion and writing prompt ideas 

Sample of elementary students feedback post book reading/discussion:

  • “People think, realize they should not make him feel red when he is blue” 
  • “They never noticed – that is surprising”
  • “They only noticed the label”
  • “Whatever the label says does not mean that is what you are – it could be wrong”
  • “Berry noticed Red for who he was”
  • “Like an old friend but seen as new”
  • “Purple might have been another label too”
  • “Doesn’t matter what your label is – it matters what your color is”

LINK Secondary students feedback post book reading/discussion 

  • “Easy to follow with simple concepts”
  • “Sometimes simple just works”
  • “It works for any labels that are imposed”
  • Teacher insight as a comparison to Shakespeare’s 12th Night 
  • Students initiative created companion illustrated Movie from book

Transition from end of reading/discussion to sculpture creation

  • Question to pose

What is your identity?

Teacher models examples:

I AM an artist/painter/dancer

I AM a teacher

I AM a partner

I AM an athlete

I AM a friend

I AM a child, teenager

I AM spectacular

Personal Creation: I AM statements 

  • Students write their own I AM statements on a white strip of fabric – they can have as many or as few statements as they wish. This is about them. Statement and fabric will be the first piece of material to be added to their Identity sculpture I AM statements will be covered by other materials, unless they choose to keep it fully or partially exposed.

I AM statements are private – sharing any or all of statement is a choice. Teacher should model what all scenarios look and sound like – so students feel supported and comfortable with their choice.

Minds on creating

Remind students that all of the choices artists make count. They have meaning, or are an aesthetic response to visual data. Encourage students to be thoughtful about their creation, choices and placement of materials – so upon reflection/sharing they can speak to their personal choices or write about them. 


I chose the blue striped fabric because it reminded me of…. Or it represents my passion for, or interest in…

I chose 3 buttons because 3 is an important number to my family – it is the date we left our country. Anything I see in 3’s sometimes makes me feel sad and happy.

I chose two trips of orange fabric with purple beads in between – these represent my dads and me – I feel safe and happy here. When I wear these colors together they make me feel confident about who I am, because my dads always say I can be whoever I want to be.

I chose all of the primary and secondary colors of fabric because sometimes I connect more to “feminine quality” colors and ideas and sometimes I feel more connected to “masculine quality” colors and ideas. I feel like I can move freely between the two, like I am on a moving sidewalk that goes both directions.

Skills to model or teach pre creating:

  • Choosing materials – mindful choice with meaning. Be sure to have a staggered way for students to choose materials – not all at once! Devise a plan that works for your students and space – I find that no more than 3 – 5 things at a time is a good strategy for younger students.. Stagger start and many stations spread around the room.
  • Wrapping stick – many students, even in older grades have no idea where to start with this. 

Hint: secure first with tying or glue, then wrap.

  • Tying: – fabric, thread, string, ribbon, etc.
  • Gluing: glue gun safety (it’s hot, it burns – skin and surfaces) – instruction on how to glue fabric, embellishments

*Volunteers may be needed for glue gun supervision with younger grades

Encourage students to use as little glue as possible!

Additive Sculpture Creation Directions:

Reminder: thoughtful choices – it all has meaning!

  • choose stick (armature) 
  • wrap and tie I AM statement on stick
  • Students begin selection process of materials. It is ideal but not required to begin with fabrics then proceed to embellishments
  • Allow students as much freedom and choice as possible
  • document creative process (teacher for thinking and assessment – older grades students can document their own key thinking and processes – younger grades can be provided template, or their own creative way 
  • once sculptures are completed 
    • Sharing circle
    • Share in pairs
    • Write about your work

Displaying Identity sculpture:

  • Hang in windows, from ceiling, from display board, outdoors in trees
  • Mount in a box painted a solid colour
  • Create a secondary structure with all of the sculptures
  • Create a large Mandala and photograph


Use categories from the creative process to assess student work. I suggest “exploring/experimenting” & “reflecting/evaluating” 

Letter Home:


We are working on an Art project and need your help!

Students will be using the creative process creating an additive sculpture which explores personal identity. This creative task supports personal expression; both with choice of materials and composition. It also encourages and supports rich critical analysis, discussion and reflection.

If you are able, please help us in collecting the following materials in the next few weeks. 

We will begin creating on DATE

Materials required:

  • 2 sticks (found on a walk or cleaning up the yard) Appox. length 30(ish)cm length of a ruler – thickness of adult thumb(ish)
  • If you see and find – acorns, pinecones, bark, etc.
  • An old piece of clothing or material cut in strips – approx. 3-4cm thick x 30cm long(ish) – shorter and longer strips are welcome – material can have a pattern or be plain, any texture, and if you have a few different ones, that would be welcome.
  • Please separate material to color similarities in baggies or tied together.
  • unused buttons, pieces of costume jewelry, feathers, beads, etc. Please do not buy anything!
  • unused lengths of thread, ribbon, string
  • sturdy cleaned out recycled containers with lids to store materials (those with sections work well)

Thank you for your help – Sincerely,

Teacher Name + class name