The first phase of my curriculum unit is designed to enhance students' understanding of how to look at art from a more technically informed standpoint. In order for students to observe, analyze, interpret and/or relate to art, it is necessary to arm them with an understanding of how the artist constructed the images as well as the vocabulary they need to articulate their observations. We will begin our study by considering the question, What is art? After writing down my learners' ideas, I will guide them to the understanding that "art is…painting, drawing, pasting, sculpting. It's sewing and building, coloring and folding. It is expressing and observing. Art is getting something that is inside you to the outside" as expressed in
How to Teach Art to Children
by Joy Evans and Tanya Skelton (Evans, page1).
In an effort to make this concept more meaningful, I will begin by increasing student awareness of the elements of art by way of introducing the concepts of line, shape, color, value, texture, form and space through a series of questions that will help them to look at a reproduction of artwork by Russian twentieth–century abstract painter, Wassily Kandinsky and name the things they think contribute to its overall impression. After facilitating meaningful discourse around each element, I will provide my students with opportunities to experience the art elements in their own lives by doing select art activities, over the course of several days, which will give them first–hand knowledge about how such elements are created and used in art. The interactive lesson sequence would be as follows:
Day 1: Learning about Line: As a whole class discussion, ask students to look around and name the lines they observe as the teacher begins to introduce terms like
diagonal, vertical and horizontal as
ways to describe the lines in space. Using the graphic organizer featured in the afore mentioned book (Evans, page9)., have students draw one of each type of line in the appropriate box. From there, students can draw another line, parallel to the original line and experiment with shading various of the parallel lines to explore the various thickness and thinness lines can take and the designs they form. Next, students can discuss the different types of lines that can be created by changing a straight line into one that bends and curves by way of folding a white sheet of paper into eight rectangles, wherein they create different types of lines (zigzag, wavy, looped, curly, scalloped) in each box. (See Lesson Plan 1)
Similar lessons can be found in the afore mentioned book,
How to Teach Art to Children
, so for the purposes of being concise (something elementary teachers are not always known for), I will simply list the themes of each lesson and some of the key terms I will introduce.
Day 2: Learning about Shape through the contrast between
positive and negative shapes
Day 3: Learning about Color through the introduction to and exploration of
primary colors, secondary colors, tertiary colors, the color wheel, wavelengths
, gradations of color, cool colors and warm colors.
Day 4: Learning about Value by differentiating between grays, black and white
hues, bright tones, muted tones and shadin
Day 5: Learning about Texture through crayon rubbing, creating texture with paint and discovering the multi–media within collage.
Day 6: Learning about Form by experiencing the distinct attributes of 2–D versus 3–D shapes through the media of clay and origami.
Day 7: Learning about Space through
paper cutouts and applications of size to gain perspective.
On Day 8, the Kandinsky painting can be revisited in order for students to have a new, well informed experience of describing the elements and can now appreciate them as coming together to give life to the entire piece.