Dreams Can Come True

By Leslie Lami-Reed, September 16, 2006

Grade Level

  • Elementary School


  • Other

Subject Area

  • Arts
  • Language Arts

Lesson Time

Four fifty-minute class periods


It's not too early to get students to think about their future careers and what they need to do to make their dreams come true. "What will I look like as an adult? How will I dress to do my job? What training and education will I need?" These are ideas students will explore when they create a paper collage self-portrait of themselves as adults dressed for work accompanied by an autobiography describing the education and training they will need for their chosen career.

National Standards


Students will:
  • create a self-portrait collage representing how they will look when they are older in their chosen career
  • add paper clothing and other details to illustrate what they might wear and what tools they will need when they are working adults
  • research their chosen career to determine how much training/education they will need to accomplish their goals
  • write an auto-biography describing their “dream career” and explain what training/education they might need to fulfill their dream


  • Google Images: https://images.google.com/for examples of the artwork of William Johnson, an African American Artist who painted people dressed up in hats, fancy clothing, gloves, etc.
  • Google Images: https://images.google.com/ for examples of photos of people in careers, such as doctor, nurse, racecar driver, pilot, hairdresser, etc.


  • 12X18 colored construction paper
  • 6X8 variety of skin colored construction paper
  • 5X7 tag board OVAL for template to draw face
  • 10X12 wallpaper scraps and colored paper
  • scrap box with variety of papers and cloth
  • scissors, glue, pencils, erasers
  • paper and pencils
  • mounting paper to mount autobiography and hang with paper portrait
  • additional art materials to complete portrait


Autobiography-the biography of a person written by that person Biography-written account of another person's life Career-an occupation or profession, one requiring special training, followed as one's lifework: He sought a career as a lawyer Collage-a technique of composing a work of art by pasting various materials (such as newspaper clippings, parts of photographs, theater tickets, fragments of an envelope, paper, magazine pages, etc.) on a single surface Portrait-likeness of a person, esp. of the face, as a painting, drawing, or photograph: a gallery of family portraits Self-Portrait-a portrait of oneself done by oneself Voice-the distinctive style or manner of expression of an author or of a character in a book


Day 1
  • Introduce students to portraits and self-portraits in paintings (William Johnson) and in photographs and show examples to the class. (Use https://www.images.google.com/to search for images of portraits.) Tell students that they will be creating self-portraits at the end of the lesson.
  • As a class, discuss careers and examples of careers. Have students name careers and create a running list on the board. Have the students think about what careers interest them. Ask them to talk with those around them about their dream career. Make sure they think about why they would like a certain career i.e. they like animals, they like to travel, they like helping people, they like playing with babies, they like to act/dance, etc. Have each student decide on their “dream career.”
  • Inform the students that the self-portrait they are going to make is a self-portrait of how they will be in the future. They should imagine themselves as an adult and create their self portrait to look how they might look dressed for work, going to their dream career. They should put in "clues" to help others guess their career, such as a stethoscope for a doctor or nurse, a pair of scissors for a beautician, a helmet for an astronaut, etc.
  • Students will trace the oval face template onto skin colored paper that represents their color and then place it on the base paper and begin cutting and gluing details, clothing, hair, "clues," etc. on their collage.
Day 2
  • Take the students to the computer lab and have them go to the following website on careers: https://www.illinoismentor.org/career/careercenter/career_alpha_list.asp. Have each student look up their “dream career” on the alphabetical list.
  • They should print or record the information they find (experience, education, and training necessary) in order to complete their autobiography regarding their career.
Days 3 and 4
  • Students will complete their paper self-portraits adding details to present what career they have chosen, what they might wear, and how they might look as an adult at work.
  • Have the students write a short autobiography introducing themselves and telling what they have chosen for their career and what training or education they will need to achieve their goal. Make sure they check their spelling and punctuation and are conscious of the "voice" they use in their writing. They should also have a classmate proofread their autobiography.
  • Each student should make sure their autobiography has been looked over and approved by the teacher.
  • Then, they should write their final version in marker or pen on colored construction paper so that it can be displayed next to their self-portrait.


Students will be evaluated:
  • by the success of showing clothing, tools, or other details that represent their chosen career in their self-portrait
  • on the research they did on their "dream career"
  • on the accuracy of their written autobiography stating what training/education will be needed to achieve their career goal
  • on the craftsmanship and creativity they demonstrated: neat gluing, cutting, and attention to detail
  • on their participation in the class discussion about career choices
Students will self-evaluate on a rubric sheet:
  • My self-portrait conveys what I hope to be doing in my future.
  • My self-portrait has "clues" that let others know what my career might be.
  • My autobiography includes information about career education and training.
  • I checked my spelling and punctuation in my autobiography.

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