The lessons for kindergarten through third grade incorporate many of the Common Core State Standards as well as the New Haven Public Schools Visual Arts Power Standards (mentioned previously). Although separate Common Core standards do not yet exist for visual arts exclusively, I have learned to use the literacy standards in my art room quite easily. I have supplemented the word "text/story" with the word "artwork," as they will be used interchangeably in this unit.
Kindergarten students will start their classes with either a book being read or an artist print being shown. They are learning the basic building blocks of looking at and responding to art, using proper vocabulary and practicing speaking clearly and articulately in the art room and to each other. I will prompt them by asking questions such as "What do you see?" or "What do you notice?" We will then delve into the other three steps of responding to art. I will validate answers by writing them down, either on paper or on a dry erase board, so that all the students in the class will be able to see that their contributions "count." One way I like to do this is list the phrases "I notice" and "I wonder" in an alternating pattern around the print on my board, so that I can fill in these as the students volunteer. The sentence starters seem to make the students feel more at ease than if they had to complete an entire sentence on their own.
Spot the Sight Word
I will provide vocabulary specific to the work of art or book that I show to the class, either by writing it on the board or creating a handout for the students to look at and check off. Students in all grades will have the chance to get up, walk to the image up close, and see if they can find all the objects listed in the piece of art.
Using Manipulatives to Teach Prepositions.
To teach prepositions to kindergarten and first-grade students, I will give them a manipulative object to hold and place on their desk/table. I will lead the class in a guided lesson of moving the objects around in different locations and either checking the students' accuracy by circulating around the room or having students hold up the two objects in relation to each other in the air over their heads. These can be shapes cut out of felt, math counting cubes or even two toys or stuffed animals.
Working in Small Groups
Students in second and third grade also will be able to work in small groups when given a wordless picture book and collaborate to create text for the story based on consensus of what is occurring in each illustration. Each group will then have a chance to present their story to the class.
Students in third grade especially will be able to use the strategy of peer teaching (having students teach each other about new words they see when looking at an image or illustration) to further their understanding of what they are looking at in an illustration or artist print. They will then be able to question each other and check for understanding by asking to describe, using different, more colloquial vocabulary, the object at which they are looking.
Act it out/Strike a pose
One activity that I have found success with in the past is to have students reenact the poses of figures in drawings, paintings or sculptures that I display for them to observe. The students enjoy the kinetic way they are learning, and it feeds into the idea of multiple intelligences and reaching all learners. Because students are familiar with this activity, I can now add to it by having them describe their positions and locations in relation to each other, therefore building their knowledge of prepositional phrases.
During the process of teaching this unit, I will be using many of these strategies to teach my students the vocabulary they need to be successful as artists and as citizens of New Haven and the world at large. As a result, they will also have gained significant knowledge about visual art and its connection to literacy through their understanding of wordless picture books and their observation of artist prints.