top of page

Painting for Peace K-2 Curriculum Guide




After months of tension, something appeared on the streets of Ferguson that hadn’t been seen there for a long time … HOPE. This is the true story of the hundreds of artists and volunteers who came out on cold winter days to paint hundreds of works of inspiring art after the unrest that took place in Ferguson. While it was a difficult time for the community, these images show how the community came together to begin the healing process after months of racial unrest. The book has become a much needed tool for adults and children to start the conversation about the many issues of community and racial equity raised by Ferguson, Baltimore, Charleston and other current events around the country. 

Paperback ISBN 978-0-9892079-9-7

Hardcover ISBN 978-0-9963901-0-1






This teacher’s guide can be used to help guide discussion and activities before, during and after the story. This guide also contains references to aligned Common Core State Standards for both literature and informational text standards.




  • Click this link and watch the YouTube video “Painting for Peace: A Brief Overview of the Whole Project." After you have watched the video, what do you think the story will be about? Is this a true story or a fictional story? CCSS.CCRA.R.2; CCSS.RL.K-2.5.

  • Have you ever made a picture for someone who was sick or feeling sad? Why did you make them a picture?  How does that make them feel? Today we are reading a story where people drew pictures to make a whole community feel better. CCSS.RL.K-2.7.

  • Take a picture walk through the story. Ask students if they think this story is fiction or nonfiction? Turn and talk with a partner and explain why. CCSS.RL.K-2.5.




  • In picture books, the images show the story along with the text. How do the images in this story change across the book? How do they help tell the story? CCSS.RI.1.1; CCSS.RI.1-2.6; CCSS.RI.1-2.7.

  • Notice how the background behind the buildings changes across the first few pages. Why do you think the illustrator portrayed the pictures this way? CCSS.RI.K-2.1; CCSS.RI.1-2.6; CCSS.RI.1-2.7;

  • On pages 8 and 9, people are getting ready to paint. What do you think they are going to do with the paint? How do they look like they are feeling on these pages? CCSS.RI.K-2.1; CCSS.RI.1.7 1;

  • The same building is pictured on pages 10 and 11. What has changed? How did they make these images? Why do you think they painted the images they did? CCSS.RI.K-2.1;

  • Throughout the story, there are many images of the St. Louis Gateway Arch.  Why are these images so prevalent in the artwork for this story? CCSS.RI.K-2.1; CCSS.RI.2.7.

  • What do you notice about the people who are making the paintings? Who do you think they are? Where do they come from? CCSS.RI.K-2.1; CCSS.RI.1.7;

  • How do you think the artists knew what to paint? How did they decide what image they wanted to portray? Did they all paint the same way?  CCSS.RI.K-2.1; CCSS.RI.1.7;

  • On page 38, there are two people in the painting. What do you think they are saying to each other? How might they be feeling? CCSS.RI.K-2.1; CCSS.RI.1.7.

  • On pages 40 and 41 the words say, “Love One another, both in and outside.” What do you think those words mean? CCSS.RI.K-2.1, CCSS.RI.K-2.4; CCSS.RI.1-2.6; CCSS.RI.2.7.




The author quoted Fred Rogers on the copyright page. He once said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things on the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” What do you think this means? In "Painting for Peace in Ferguson," lots of people came together to help create these images. Who are the helpers in a community? Who helped in this story? CCSS.RI.K-2.1; CCSS.RI.2.3; CCSS.RI.2.7.



You can find more lesson plans and activity ideas at this link.




The book is a complete product of St. Louis artists and artisans. Designed by Robert O’Neil and Michael Kilfoy, the book was published by Amphorae Publishing Group, printed by Advertisers Printing Company and bound at Jaffe Book Solutions. Find more on the "Painting for Peace in Ferguson" website. Or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Profits from the book benefit youth and recovery programs in the Ferguson area. 




Carol Swartout Klein grew up in Ferguson and was so inspired by witnessing the spirit of hundreds of volunteers coming together to bring hope to a community in shock that she wanted to capture the story and Painting for Peace in Ferguson is the result. A journalist and marketing professional by training, Klein has always wanted to write a children’s book. She saw how healing the actual process of creating the artwork was for all those involved … as the community came together to help others, the artists, business owners and volunteers benefited themselves … and created new connections that she hopes will continue to strengthen in the future.

bottom of page