How to Teach Kids to Make Posters

An overhead view of a boy creating with paper and colored pencils.
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From school council elections to research presentations, kids can create posters as announcements or visual aids. Teaching children to make posters isn't just an artsy endeavor. Although design is a primary part, kids also need to understand what to include on the display, what to say and how to organize their messages.

1 Beginning: A Rough Sketch

There are two routes that kids can take when making a poster: drawing their own or creating one on a computer. If you're teaching a child how to draw her own poster, you still need to instruct her on design principles. Although she isn't using a graphic design program to draft her poster, she needs to know how to position her drawings and how to integrate them with words. These means that she needs to make sure that the drawing -- and writing -- are legible. If the child is drawing the design, she will want to create a rough draft or mock-up first, rearranging the poster's elements before finalizing it in paint or marker. If she's using clip art or photos from a computer program, she can rearrange the elements as she creates the design.

2 The Design: Getting Readers' Attention

Before beginning the design process, kids need to choose an orientation for their arrangement, either vertical or horizontal. The viewer's eyes are likely to start at the top center and then move to the top left and top right, according to article "How to Make a Great Poster" on the American Society of Plant Biologists' website. When arranging key information, putting the most important pictures or words at the top center will draw the viewer in and help to get the message across.

3 The Message: Make It Short and Snappy

Part of teaching kids how to make a poster is helping them to understand that this type of display is different than a written report. Brevity and clarity are key when creating an eye-catching poster. Tell children to take a critical eye to their posters and edit down the message and pictures. Cluttering a poster with dozens of images or adding paragraph after paragraph of lettering is visually confusing and won't grab viewers' attention. Once they've decided on the words and pictures, kids need to choose fonts and colors that are noticeable. For example, choose a straightforward font for a computer-designed poster, or print basic stencil letters for a hand-drawn version. Use a bold or dark color of lettering against a light background for readability, according to the University of Illinois Extension.

4 Picture It: The Best Images

Whether the child is going with a hand-drawn image or selecting a computer-generated one, he needs to know how to choose a graphic that fits the poster's theme. The pictures on the poster need to relate or speak to the theme and message, without being tricky to understand. For example, a seventh-grader is making a poster for his student council president campaign. He might choose a photo of himself to make the viewers aware of who he is or a picture that features a key piece of his election platform.

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.