Initiating transformation through Costume and Fashion
Meets the learning standards for grades 4-5 (can be adapted)  
Media Type:  Paper Art
Subject Integration: Fine Arts, Theatre Arts, English Language Arts

Click here for Formal Lesson Plan and TEKS information

Materials: writing materials, heavy paper (cardstock or watercolor paper), drawing/coloring materials

Special Equipment: scissors


  • Fashion
  • Costume
  • Embellish
  • Wardrobe
  • Transformative
  • Character
  • Era
  • Period
  • Trompe l’oeil
  • Inanimate


What is your favorite movie? Imagine that everyone in the movie was dressed identically. How would the audience know if the characters were “good”, “bad”, powerful or smart? How would they know what the skills or jobs of the characters were? Discuss the importance of costume design in your favorite movie.

Activity 1: 

Check out this article about an exhibition of Oscar nominated wardrobe departments: The 27th Annual Oscar Costume Design Exhibition at FIDM – Crescenta Valley Weekly

What are some of the interesting terms and notable techniques mentioned in the article?

Activity 2: 

Make a list of three characters: 1 Historical figure, 1 Professional person, 1 Fictional character or Celebrity.

Take few minutes to make a list of at least 5 distinct fashion elements that would convey who each character is. List as many details as possible for each character.

Share your description of the character’s costume, while your friends or classmates attempt to guess. Have fun!

Activity 3:


  • writing materials
  • heavy paper (card stock or watercolor paper)
  • drawing/coloring materials
  • scissors

We are going to experiment with costume and wardrobe by designing our own paper dolls! Draw your subject on a piece of heavy paper. For best results, the subject should be at least 6 inches tall (or wide.)  Remember to consider proportion and balance.

Carefully cut out your paper dolls.

On another sheet of heavy paper, trace the outline of your paper doll. Try to fit multiple outlines on the same page (if possible.)

Draw different costumes for your paper doll. Be creative! Design a costume that would transform the paper doll into an entirely different character.

Add at least 3 rectangular “tabs” around the edge of each design, and use color and embellishment.

Remember not to cut off the paper tabs when you are cutting out the costumes

Share… Reflect! How do Hollywood wardrobe departments convey information about the characters in movies?


Fashion – A popular trend, especially in styles of dress and ornament or manners of behavior.

Costume – Costume is the distinctive style of dress or cosmetic of an individual or group that reflects class, gender, profession, ethnicity, nationality, or activity. In short, costume is a cultural visual of the people.

Embellish – Make (something) more attractive by the addition of decorative details or features.

Wardrobe –  

1) A collection of wearing apparel (as of one person or for one activity.)

2)  A collection of stage costumes and accessories.

Transformative – Causing a marked change in someone or something

Character – One of the persons of a drama or novel b: the personality or part which an actor recreates

Era – A fixed point in time from which a series of years is reckoned.


  1. An interval of time characterized by the occurrence of a certain condition, event, or phenomenon.

  2. An interval of time characterized by the prevalence of a specified culture, ideology, or technology.

Trompe L’oeil – (French: “deceive the eye”) A style of painting in which objects are depicted with photographically realistic detail; also: the use of similar technique in interior decorating.

Inanimate – Not animate. Not endowed with life or spirit. Lacking consciousness or power of motion.