Public Works Department
Surface Water Management Division
Creating Interpretive Signage for your Restoration Site
Objective: Students will work in groups or individually to create text and illustrations for
an interpretive sign for visitors to their restoration site.
Time: 3+ hours for grades 4-6 (can be split into 2 sessions), or two consecutive class
periods for secondary levels.
Using the pushpin, poke holes into the plastic 16-ounce “deli cup.” Poke holes
from the inside of the cup towards the outside (or the water will not flow through),
and the holes should be about 1 cm apart through the entire bottom of the cup.
This is referred to as a “perforated cup” below.
11” x 17” paper
Art supplies for the illustrations. (If you plan on making a “real” sign to be posted
at the site, be sure to limit student’s supplies to what type of sign you can actually
manufacture. For example, since we make black and white signs that require thick
lines, I ask students to use only black markers for their final drawing)
Examples of other interpretive signs
Optional: graphic design software (e.g. Microsoft Publisher, Adobe Photoshop)
1. Tell students that they now will be the teachers, and that their task is to design a
sign to teach visitors to their restoration project about one of the many things they
learned throughout REYS.
2. As a class, students should brainstorm what the main topic of their sign could be.
Write down ideas on the board, and then have students vote on one main topic for
the classes’ sign. (Example main topics: native plants are good, why salmon need
trees, stream ecosystems, invasive plants are bad)
3. After choosing a topic, brainstorm what some supporting ideas would be. This
can be done in groups or as a class. It is helpful to discuss ideas as a class and
write an outline on the board of the main topic and supporting ideas, for student to
follow. Also, you may wish to brainstorm and vote on a title at this time.
Create Interpretive Signs-Lesson Plan 1
4. Before students begin their draft, sometimes they will need time to perform
research at the library or on the web.
5. Students can next work individually in groups to make a draft of their sign on 11”
x 17” paper. For the draft, they should concentrate on the layout and text of the
sign, with only general sketches of the pictures. (Sometimes students will spend
too much time drawing during the draft phase instead of crafting sentences.) Be
sure an know the limitations/requirements of the sign if you intend to manufacture
actually signs for posting at the site: our budget has limited us to black and white
signs, so I make sure students do not create color drawings.
6. After the drafts are complete, students should perform some peer review,
commenting on what is good and what could use improvement (or is not clear) on
7. Allow students enough time to complete their final drafts of the sign. For students
with access to computers, they can use graphic design software (e.g Microsoft
Publisher, Adobe Photoshop) to create their final draft. If you are planning on
manufacturing actually signs for posting at the site, making an electronic version
will be useful.
Create Interpretive Signs-Lesson Plan 2