Vanity License Plate Project – A Lesson Plan for Educators

Dear Teachers and Animal Lovers, I am joining the Humane Association of Georgia, Inc. in their cause to bring more awareness to Animals by submitting this Art Education Unit to anyone who might find it applicable in their classroom. Our goal is to help teachers and students join together in their communities to get the word out about special license plate legislation here in Georgia and all over for that matter. This unit, Vanity License Plate, will achieve many goals.

I originally set forth two goals:
1.)  Make for a dynamic and exciting art project for middle school students
2.)  Bring Math and English skills into the art room to help students gain a better rounded art education experience and achieve higher ISTEP scores.

I expect that many of you will need to modify the project in ways to adapt to your own classrooms.  I’m sure I overlooked some steps here and there, but I know this a good start. I would have liked to be more thorough, but I needed to meet a tight deadline. You will discover this project can lead off into many fruitful directions. I am including my personal information for those of you who might feel the need to contact me: Juddson K. Hite
1428 Carroll Dr. NW
Atlanta, GA 30318

I hope this unit will help kids realize their voices can help a great cause be heard. Thank you for your time,
Juddson K. Hite

Vanity License Plate Project

Authored by: Juddson K. Hite

Unit: Illustration/Drafting/Painting (mixed media)

Project:Design a “vanity” license plate.

Level:6th, 7th, and 8th grade

Objectives: Students will:Work with multiple mediums (watercolors, pencil, and marker). Reinforce concept of phonetics in words. Introduce the ruler. Activism/ Community involvement.

Materials and Preparation: Dictionary, pen, and notebook paper
Scratch paper
Pictures of cats and dogs
Peaches License template on white drawing paper, 8.5×11 in landscape view
Pencils, erasers, and rulers
Watercolors, brushes, cups of water, and paper towels
Colored markers
Scissors and single hole punch

Instructional Resources: Examples of ‘vanity’ license plates
Examples of nicknames
Watercolor paintings (particular artist)
One sheet on animal activism license plate
One sheet on the ruler

Vocabulary: Phonetics

Motivation/Guided Exploration: Introduce the idea of using art to help communicate a message.  
Discuss the importance of spaying pets to prevent animal over population.  
Work at chalkboard developing phrases and nicknames to introduce the concept of phonics.   
Urge students to spell words/phrases phonetically using seven letters and or numbers.  
Review a few key points/rules of design for this assignment.  
Review the fundamentals of using the ruler and it’s basic measuring units.  
Pass out ruler help sheets and walk class through their license plate template.  
Give example of properly holding pencil up against ruler to make a measurement.  
Show how I carefully color near borders, and then fill shape with broader strokes the further I get from the outline of the particular shape.  
Finally present class with finished product (if school can afford to laminate, do so).


  • Present the examples at the front of the classroom maybe do a slide presentation. At the chalkboard go into a brief description of phonetics, write out definition on the board. Have a simple phrase or 7 character name written on the board. Using phonetic spelling, rewrite the 7 character name or simple phrase only using 7 letters or a combination of 7 letters and numbers. Example:  Blackjack = Blkjack
  • Do as many examples as needed until you feel there is class comprehension.
  • Have students come up with 5 to 10 simple phrases or names and have them rewrite them phonetically.
  • Call on students to come up to the board and write out their phonetic vanity plate. Then call on students to see if they can give the full name or phrase.
  • Pass out worksheet with a license plate template that has letterboxes already evenly spaced out. Have students’ practice drawing their letters and numbers within the given spaces and with a commonality of letter type or style.
  • Pass out a phonetics quiz to evaluate how well the class understands phonics, ten phrases and or names written out in a combination of actual spelling and phonetically spelled.
  • Have students decipher the phonetically spelled ones, students rewrite phrases or names using phonics for the remainder of names and phrases.
  • Pass out drawing paper and rulers.
  • Have students’ do free draw for 10 minutes; their only responsibilities are the drawing must have between 10 and 15 straight lines. Encourage them to draw lines of equal length or height. (Walk around class offering assistance or advice)
  • Collect drawings and give a ruler demonstration at the board going over four basic units of measurement: 1/8in, 1/4in, 1/2in, and 1inch. Also give example of how to hold pencil and draw lines against a ruler.
  • Have student pass out two measurement handouts. Have another one pass out previous ruler drawings. Instruct students to use ruler to measure lines to the nearest 1/8 of an inch and label each line with its measurement.
  • Pass out rulers and erasers. Pass out drawing paper with half of license plate already drawn out and measurements labeled, tell students to use labeled measurements to draw the other half of the license of the license plate exactly like the first half. Instruct students to draw in their vanity phrase in the letterboxes. When students are done drawing letters in their letterboxes, instruct them to carefully erase the parts of the letterbox not used by the letter.
  • Pass out drawing paper and walk students through how to measure out the rectangle for the license plate into the middle of their paper. You can either do this at an overhead or on the chalkboard. Walk students through drawing in their letterboxes (note: encourage students to draw these lines with a light touch so they will be easier to erase when it comes time to get rid of the guidelines.
  • Tell students to draw the Georgia Peach license plate logo that has at least one pet animal drawn over the peach in the free space of the license plate. Next have them block in their letters in light pencil. Finally fill in license plate with “Georgia”, little plate saying “…always on my mind”, and year number.
  • Pass out pre approved watercolors, water cups, brushes, watercolor blending worksheet, and paper towels. Demonstrate to students how to apply watercolor paint to paper in three different ways, light, medium, and heavy. Next demonstrate how two colors make a third color by blending two watercolors while they are still damp.
  • Have students do their best to watercolor the peach logo.
  • Have students lightly pencil (pet) animal illustration on top of dried watercolor peach state logo.
  • Tell students to fill in ‘blocked in’ letters with a black marker.
  • Tell students to color in pet illustration with a black marker.
  • Pass out scissors, (I like to reinforce the idea that no one is allowed out of their seats with out my permission) have students carefully cut out license plate. Note: Stress to the students that an error in cutting is no reason to trash their hard work. Bad cuts can easily be fixed from behind with Scotch tape. Demonstrate this to class.
  • Pass out single hole punches. Instruct student’s to punch out previously drawn holes.
  • If school art budget allows for it, laminate every student’s work. (If school can laminate, reverse the last two steps).

Click on images to enlarge for viewing and printing.

Enlarged Inch
Ruler Test
Half-Drawn Plate
Template for Plate
Pupeluv Layout
Completed Plate

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