Architectural Relief Tiles

Architectural Relief Tiles lesson plan

Students study building design, learning new vocabulary, then put their learning to work as they present relief tiles of architecture studied.

  • 1.

    Make a foundation of Crayola® Model Magic®, at least a 6-inch (15 cm) square and 1/2 inch (1.5 cm) thick.

  • 2.

    Roll coils of Model Magic to make raised parts of buildings. Attach pieces firmly to the base.

  • 3.

    Pinch or pull architectural details out of the base or additional modeling material. Score the compound or make cross hatches with a plastic fork, toothpick, or other modeling tools. Use plastic straws, chop sticks, or textured items to cut away or press in surface details. Be creative.

  • 4.

    After the Model Magic is dry, cover the work area with recycled newspaper. Paint the tiles with Crayola Watercolors and Brushes.


  • Students study the design of buildings, either first-hand within their communities or with photographs. Some possibilities include a public library, the Empire State Building in New York City, and the Eiffel Tower, designed by Gustave Eiffel, in Paris.
  • Students design relief tiles representing buildings studied.
  • Students use the vocabulary of design elements (foundation, roof, transom, lintel, balustrade, facade) and construction materials used in the building(s) they are representing.
  • Students present an oral report about the city and architect or imaginative basis for their relief tile to the class or community.


  • Ask students to study the works of famous architects such as Palo Soleri or Frank Lloyd Wright. What art elements and principles of visual organization are typical in their work?
  • Students who would find intricate work with modeling compounds too difficult might draw structures on the computer or with other adaptive drawing tools, or could use wooden or plastic building blocks.
  • Choose an architectural style, and find buildings that represent that period. Compare similarities and differences.
  • Observe a building under construction. Each week, students sketch or photograph the structure's progress, people, and machines at work. Consider the importance of physics and math. These tiles and reports could be the culminating event to document the construction.