Fourth grade students at Rexford/Longfellow Elementary School in Clintonville learned about copyright laws while painting a mural.
The mural, painted on a hallway wall in the school, contains some of the students’ favorite book characters. Before starting work on the mural, students had to ask permission to use the characters, from the owners of the characters.
“We had to teach the kids a lesson about copyright first so we had to present it to them as permission and asking for something that doesn’t belong to us,” said Amana Hill, a teacher at the school. “Mr. Sweet our librarian taught a lesson and he talked about it related to deer hunting saying that if somebody has this great land and you want to come hunt on it you can’t just come hunt on it. You have to ask permission first. We focused on the fact that it would be up to the landowner to say ‘yes’ or ‘no.’”
Hill said the students were taught that the images of the book characters belong to the artist and the author who created them.
The students were taught about copyright laws and sent letters to the owners of the character images, asking for permission to use them in the mural.
The entire school voted on which book characters to include in the mural.
Hill said the students were surprised they needed to ask permission to use the images.
“They kind of just thought, ‘Well, it’s in a book, why can’t we just draw it on the wall?’ But they got it. They really understood it quickly,” Hill said.
Hill said the Wimpy Kid character probably received the most votes. But that character is not in the mural because the students received a letter back denying permission to use the character.
“It was really great to see because they were so disappointed which means that they got it and they were excited about it,” Hill said. “Unfortunately Wimpy Kid is never going to be on our walls.”
They allowed a couple of months for the letters granting them permission to come back.
Hill said the students received permission for around seven characters, while they received around five denials.
Once it was determined which characters were allowed to be in the mural, Ronessa Lund, the art teacher at the school, put the pictures on the wall. She then worked with all the fourth grade students to paint the characters in the mural, matching the colors the best they could to what is in the books. Students were allowed to paint the characters during their fourth grade art class.
Students painted in three minute blocks in order to allow all students an opportunity to paint.
“As an art lesson they’re learning craftsmanship,” Lund said. “They understand this is a permanent fixture on the wall. It’s going to be here for years to come. They’re working really hard.”
Characters in the mural include: Fancy Nancy, Pete the Cat, No David, Curious George, Where the Wild Things Are, Froggy Goes to School, and BFG.
Student Elizabeth Tody said her favorite part of the project was painting the mural.
Briana Bodoh, a student at the school, said receiving permission to use the characters was exciting.
“It was kind of cool because then we’d be able to do it on our mural,” Bodoh said.
Student Braiden Behnke said he learned it was important to ask permission first.
“It was kind of scary because you didn’t know if they were going to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’,” Behnke said.
Hill said she would like to do the project again in two years and add to the mural.