Protect yourself! Amulets Made from Recycled Materials

By christina whitt, January 20, 2009

Grade Level

  • High School


  • Architecture

Subject Area

  • Arts

Lesson Time

4-5 50 minute class periods


In this lesson, students will create an amulet constructed with recycled magazines and newspapers. Our world is increasingly becoming filled with disposal paper items filling landfills and polluting our environment. In creating this work, we will follow this basic premise:Reduce your footprint, Reuse everything you can, Recycle to close the loop.To reduce their footprint, students will use recycled materials throughout this project. In an effort to utilize these materials in a constructive manner and not create even more waste, students will use discarded magazines, computer paper, flyers, postcards, junk mail, and newspaper they encounter in their community to create a wearable work of art that takes the form of an amulet.  Students will create an amulet in the form of a necklace, belt buckle, bag, key chain,  or bracelet using these recycled printed materials, glue, string, hodge podge, elastic string, and wire. The object should fit on a part of the body, be a symbolic amulet, and serve some function (necklace, bracelet, belt buckle,or key chain).  

National Standards

Visual Arts Standards: Content Standard 1 Understanding and applying media, techniques, and processes Content Standard 2 Using knowledge of structures and functions Content Standard 3 Choosing and evaluating a range of subject matter, symbols, and ideas Content Standard 5 Reflecting upon and assessing the characteristics and merits of their work and the work of others Content Standard 6 Making connections between visual arts and other disciplines    

Common Core Standards

Anchors for Reading:

Key Ideas and Details:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.1 Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.7 Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.9 Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.

Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.10 Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.

 Research to Build and Present Knowledge:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.8 Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.

Anchor standards for Speaking and Listening:

Comprehension and Collaboration:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.1 Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.2 Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.3 Evaluate a speaker's point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.6 Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and communicative tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.

Anchor standards for Language:

Conventions of Standard English:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.1 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.


Students will: 1. Create a work of art that is wearable. 2. Create a work of art that is functional (belt buckle, bag,bracelet, necklace, or keychain). 3. Utilize recycled paper materials in the object's creation. 4. Utilize basic design principles in the construction (color, form, shape,etc.) 5. Have an amulet in the design and use symbolism in creating the amulet. 5. Consider the impact of recycling in their community and world.  


Resources: Power point presentation(see attached), teacher made handouts, Teacher examples Online Video-How-To Paper Bead Jewelry, Newspaper Recycling, Threadbanger Web Address: Useful websites: Making Paper beads,, Reducing paper waste website,  


Recycled newspaper, magazines, junk mail, and catalogs, glue, hodge podge decoupage adhesive, wood skewers, scissors, exacto blades, cutting board, brush,  jewelry notions, elastic string, string or yard  


Wearable art Brainstorm Green Design Amulet Decoupage  


The lesson will begin with a power point presentation describing the objectives of the lesson. Students will also be given a written overview describing the expectations of the assignment (see attachment). The power point will describe what an amulet is and its origins. What is an amulet? After viewing what an amulet is, students will view various works of jewelry created with recycled paper.  Our emphasis will be to use recycled materials, not new materials, for the majority of the materials in the piece. Wear ability and functionality will also be emphasized. Does the object work with a part of the body? Is it wearable? Can you make a piece of jewelry primarily out of recycled materials? Can you make trash into treasure? Students will also be given a fact sheet concerning recycling and how not recycling has adversely affected our planet. Demonstration At this point, I will demonstrate how to make paper beads.  Paper beads are very simple to make.  Attached is a power point with pictures that demonstrates this process. Step 1 Gather the following materials: •    Scissors •    Glue •    Brush •    Wood skewer •    Recycled paper products- magazines, etc Step 2 •    Start by cutting strips of paper. •    Different shapes will render different types of beads. •    You can vary the shapes between long thin strips or triangular shapes. •    The length of the strip will determine the thickness of the bead. •    The strips can be as small as 1 cm or as wide as ½ inch. The length should be around 3-4 inches. Step 3 •    Select the side you would like to show of the bead and place it face down. •    Apply glue to the strip with a brush. •    Using the wood skewer, roll the strip tightly around the skewer. Step 4 •    To seal the bead, you may you hodge podge decoupage glue or a cheaper alternative mix of 2 parts water/1 part glue. •    To create mare of gloss apply multiple coats. I will also demonstrate how to create decoupage. This is also in the PowerPoint. Step 1: •    Decoupage allows you to use pictures and printed materials to create images on the surface of something. •    Start with images you would like to collage. •    Collage your images. Step 2 •    Assemble your image and glue them down. •    You may apply decoupage material or a combination of glue and water(1-2 combo). Step 3 •    Create a back for your collage with card stock by gluing 4-5 pieces together to create a study back. You can also use cardboard or any other hard surface. •    Glue your collage on to the back. Allow to dry. •    Cut a slit for your rope or thread. •    Allow everything to dry. Step 4 •    You may complete one or both sides. •    Slide string through the slit and tie a knot. •    You may string your beads to add more style and flair. Students may use these techniques or come up with other techniques using these materials. Students will then begin to brainstorm ideas. The thumbnail drawings should show the objects from different angles and should also consider the materials available. The drawings should also incorporate the idea of an amulet and protection or good luck. After the students have had time to brainstorm, I will spend some time during different sessions demonstrating how to use a variety of materials and techniques that apply directly to their designs. The remainder of the sessions will be used for construction. During this time, I will help individual students with construction and manipulation of materials.  


As we approach the deadline of the project, we will have a formal group critique/review of the objects. Students will discuss the following questions regarding each of the objects, such as: •    Does the object fulfill the objectives of the assignment? •    Is the object functional? •    Did the student create an amulet? What does it represent? •    Is the object made primarily of recycled materials? Does it follow the idea reduce, reuse, recycle? •    What are the aesthetic merits of the object? After the group critique, students will be asked to complete an assessment sheet evaluating their project based on the criteria described in the sheet (see attached).  

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