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  • Ms. I. Centofanti

Illuminated Letter

Updated: May 10

Students decorate their letter to reflect their own uniqueness and personality.


A little history, a little Latin, and an introduction to the magnificent beauty of the masterpieces they were about to explore prepared the students for their artistic venture into medieval Europe.

Centuries before the invention of the printing press, books were written by hand, (the Latin word for it is manuscript, a term still in use today.) Silent monks and nuns shuttered in monasteries and abbeys dipped and dipped their quills, copying letter by letter and word by word until the book was complete. Over time, they began decorating the large pages with wondrously embellished capital letters, using precious slivers of real gold and silver and inks of many colors to create pictures that almost glowed. (Hence the term “illuminated” from Latin, illuminare, which meansto light up”.)

In this lesson, students created their own illuminated letter using the first letter of their name. How they chose to decorate their letter was a reflection of each one’s uniqueness, their personality, passions, hopes and dreams. They were given the option to use colored pencils, paints, and markers, or to simply leave their detailed creation in black and white. How they chose to complete and display their letter was theirs alone.

The results of this project are a marvelous glimpse at the remarkable talent and imagination of the young artists here at Dana Middle School.

Note: The Illuminated Letter project was done by students during the time of our unprecedented distance learning (March 2020 - ?). While each piece reflects the individuality of the artist as a middle-school student, it will also be their souvenir of the time in their lives the world “slowed down” and gave them a chance to see how they could make it a more beautiful place once it started up again.


Featured artist in this lesson: Ava M., 6th grade.


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