Honoring Heroes in Class 3

At 8:30 a.m. on a busy Thursday morning, the “museum” doors opened as expected. Within minutes, the sprawling exhibition – in Rooms 312, 400 and 405 – was bustling with activity as curious guests perused the colorful displays set out on tables and listened attentively to the articulate, knowledgeable docents. Welcome to “Hero in a Can,” a beloved Class 3 tradition.

Walking into the trio of classrooms, visitors were met with captivating creations of noteworthy people throughout history. True to its title, the exhibit encompassed dozens of coffee cans (or similarly lidded vessels) that students had transformed – using construction paper, yarn, felt, cotton balls and healthy doses of imagination – into the likenesses of genuine heroes. 

From Charles Dickens to Michelle Obama, Eleanor Roosevelt to J.K. Rowling, Leonardo da Vinci to Gloria Steinem, these were playful representations of individuals who made their marks in diverse fields like music, medicine, literature, sports, politics and civil rights. Inside each can, the students placed five items unique to that person as well as a timeline marking significant milestones in his or her life.

Before any can decorating could get underway, the students first conducted careful research to become experts. With the help of the illustrated “Who Was/Who Is?” book series, each learned how synthesize data, decipher key dates, and decide which aspects of the heroes’ legacies to illuminate. This information-gathering exercise was, many students noted, an enjoyable and rewarding process. “It’s really fun to learn about people and their lives,” one commented.

Students next channeled their creativity into eye-catching depictions of their heroes’ heads. After studying drawings and photographs, they interpreted each one’s singular essence through skin tone, hairstyles, jewelry, accessories and facial expressions. The results were simply magnificent!

With the cans’ exteriors complete, the students challenged themselves to identify distinguishing objects to use to enhance their person’s distinct characteristics. One student, for example, fashioned miniature mouse ears to accompany her Walt Disney can. Another, for Michelle Obama, drew a White House and a ring of fruits and vegetables representing Ms. Obama’s health-focused “Let’s Move” campaign. The student celebrating Rosa Parks created a three-dimensional bus out of paper.

Parents, caregivers and teachers were provided facts, figures and fascinating tidbits about the wide array of talented subjects and their extraordinary contributions. Many students were happy to pose for photographs holding up their beautiful heroes.

Through their diligent work, the girls proved to be well prepared to answer nearly every question posed to them, from “Why is this person famous?” to “What are her/his most important accomplishments?” and “What challenges did he/she face?” The audience was impressed and delighted.

With poise and exuberance, each Class 3 student succeeded in bringing her hero to life for this engaging museum exhibit. They became skillful biographers, whimsical artists and passionate presenters, thanks to inspiring subjects and the boundless possibilities of a simple can. 

Browse photos of the Heroes in a Can below: