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North America
All lesson plans © Debi West, Ed.S, NBCT
October 2007

Kindergarten: Self-Portraits


• 9" x 9" white bristol board
• Black permanent marker
• Colored markers
• Oil pastels
• Multicultural crayons
• Handheld mirrors
• North American artists’ self-portraits

Learning Objectives
Kindergarten students will ...
• learn about the art of self-portraits.
• learn to measure facial features and look closely at their faces.
• use shapes and lines to create their face.
• learn to blend skin tones.
• view works by North American portraiture artists for inspiration.

1. Students view example works of several North American artists who have made self-portraits. (I used Andy Warhol, Grant Wood and local Georgia artists, Barbara McGuire and Mavis Stevens.)

2. Students look in a mirror and discuss what exactly they see.

3. Students use a black permanent pen and follow the teacher as he or she models how to draw a proportionate face, starting with the eye area:
a. Students first draw a large oval or circle in the middle of their paper.
b. They then add their pupil dots in the center of their oval.
c. From this point, they add their circular iris around their pupil, then they add their sclera by making “bird beaks” on each side of their iris.
d. Next, they add their eyelid line and their eyelashes.
e. Students will then draw their eyebrow above their eye.

4. The next step is fun in that students are shown how to measure their facial features by using their fingers. They will measure their eye with their index finger and thumb, and then they will turn their hand to measure their nose. They are amazed to find they are the same size!
This is now put to use as artists do, and students measure their drawn eye and turn their fingers, knowing where to add the bottom of their nose.

5. Next, they will add their lip lines and then measure their mouth to see that it is the same size as their ear! They then add their ears, again, measuring to see where to add the ear.

6. Students then add their neck and shoulders and do any embellishing.

7. To complete the drawing, students add lines that represent their hair.

8. Students color their skin using an assortment of multicultural-colored crayons. Again, students look closely in their mirrors to see where certain shadows fall. They are then taught how to put value in their drawings ... and yes, this is a kindergarten lesson. It’s amazing what they get when the teacher models it and they are taught to draw what they see!

9. Markers are then added to the iris, the hair, the shirt and the background.

10. Finally, students are taught to blend oil pastel lightly over the markers to give the piece a painted effect.

At the end of this lesson, have students draw their classmate sitting across from them, reminding
them about the different measuring techniques and to draw what they see.

Self-Portrait links:


Grade 1: Papel Picado


• 7" x 7" black construction paper
• 9" x 9" white bristol board
• Scissors
• Chalk
• Glue
• Reproductions of Mexican papel picado and authentic examples

Learning Objectives
First-grade students will...
• learn about the art of the Mexican “paper cutters.”
• create their own symmetrical piece of art inspired by this unique style.

1. Students view examples of authentic Mexican papel picado and discuss the use of negative and positive space.
2. Students take their black paper square and fold it vertically and then horizontally, making a smaller square. They will then cut out small shapes around the edges, creating a pattern effect.
3. Students open the paper (to many “oohs” and “ahhs”) and discuss the new negative/positive spaces they have created.
4. Students embellish this paper with colored chalks, blending colors to create an aged, colorful efffect.
5. Students glue these onto their white bristol-board square.
6. Students critique each other’s work and see the many designs that came out of such a simple lesson.

Teach students the complementary colors and have them cut out blue paper and glue it onto orange, or cut out green and glue onto red, and so on.

Papel Picado links: html


Grade 2: Miriam Schapiro-Inspired Femmages


• 9" x 9" white bristol board
• Scissors
• Glue
• Construction paper
• Watercolor paint
• Brushes
• Wallpaper samples
• Fabric samples
• Prints of Miriam Schapiro’s work

Learning Objectives
Second-grade students will ...
• learn about the art of Canadian-born artist Miriam Schapiro.
• learn about the art of “femmage.”
• learn to put verbs in their art by showing movement.Procedure
1. Students see and study examples of Miriam Schapiro’s art, specifially her femmages.
2. Students discuss movement in their art and discuss their favorite activities, and how they can make a femmage-style self-portrait showing one of these activities.
3. Students cut out construction paper and create collages of themselves doing activities of their choice. Examples include sporting events, dancing, cheering, shopping, going to church, playing video games, etc.
4. Students glue these shapes down onto their white paper.
5. Students then add wallpaper and fabric pieces to small areas of the composition to give the collage a femmage effect.
6. Students watercolor-splash a small amount of color onto their final piece.
7. Students critique each other’s work and guess the different activities their classmates have represented.

Have students create a class mural using this media. The children can each create themselves doing something and then these can all go on a large piece of butcher paper. This is a great way to introduce each class at the beginning of the school year!

Miriam Schapiro links:

Grade 3: Outstanding O’Keeffe-Inspired Art
Click here to download a PDF copy of this project
Grade 4: Candles

• 9" x 9" white bristol board
• Pencils
• Oil pastels
• Colonial America art prints
• Candles

Learning Objectives
Fourth-grade students will ...
• learn about the art of the Colonial Americans.
• learn about the light source used during this time.
• learn about form and function.
• learn about and use the art element of value.
• learn about cool and warm colors.

1. Students view examples of several Colonial American artifacts.
2. Students look at a lit candle with the shades drawn and see the light source and the value scale the light source makes when the teacher’s hand is behind the light.
3. Students use their pencils to draw a seven-tiered value scale, going from dark to light. They are amazed how a simple pencil combined with their muscle can actually make seven different colors!
4. Students sketch the outline of a candle, either a ball or a sphere, onto their paper.
5. Next, students add their newly learned value technique directly onto the candle, paying attention to the light source.
6. Students add their candle glow using the same value technique around their flame.
7. Next, they add their flame using a light touch of blended oil pastel in the warm colors.
8. Students then add their favorite color scheme, cool or warm, around their candle and by using their fingers, they push the color to make it glow around the candle.
9. Students then ground their candle by giving it a horizon line and adding a bit more oil-pastel color. (This way their candle is not floating in air!)
10. Finally, students critique the art they have completed and discuss their new art “secret” ... value!

At the end of this lesson, allow students to make actual candles out of wax. This unit tied in wonderfully with our fourth-grade Colonial social-studies unit. We had parent volunteers help with this extension!

Candle-making link:

Grade 5: Pop Art with Digital Photography

• 9" x 9" white bristol board
• Black outline marker
• Colored markers
• Oil pastels
• Prismacolorฎ Art Stix
• Andy Warhol and Grant Wood art prints
• Digital cameras
• Color or black and white printer
• Digital images of each student
• Scissors
• Glue

Learning Objectives
Fifth-grade students will ...
• learn about the art of the American Modernists, specifically the Pop artists.
• learn about the art of digital photography.
• use mixed media to create amazing art while learning about portraiture in a unique way.

1. Students view examples of several Pop artists and American Modernists, specifally Andy Warhol and Grant Wood (see November 2007 issue of Arts & Activities for reproductions of two Grant Wood prints).
2. Students look in a mirror and discuss what exactly they see.
3. Students discuss the use of digital photography in our world today.
4. Students are given the opportunity to take one digital photograph of a friend, and that friend will then take a photo of them. (I print these out on my printer.)
5. Students look closely at their image and draw what they see right next to where they will glue down their photo image. (They have been taught self-portraiture so this is not a new lesson for them, but they usually use a mirror or their imagination, and now they are using a photo image.)
6. From this point, they begin to color in their digital image using Prismacolor Art Stix. They need to color- layer these to create the correct skin tones and they have to learn to use their value and outlining techniques as the spaces can get very small.
7. Next, they cut out their completed digital images now enhanced with their color and glue that onto their paper, next to their drawing.
8. Students then color in their drawn self-portrait in the same manner.
9. The next step is to create a background (many students used the Gothic house in Wood’s American Gothic). Others just used blocks of color, so it was quite obvious to which artist the students were more drawn.
10. Backgrounds are outlined with a permanent black marker and then water-based marker is used to “paint” in the spaces and shapes. Finally, oil pastel is added for embellishment.
11. Students walk around the room and look at all of the different creations made from this inspirational lesson.

At the end of this lesson, have students write a quick narrative story about one of their favorite pieces, paying close attention to the details and colors added. Their descriptive words are amazing, as they use this vocabulary throughout the lesson. It’s easy to see: Photography + Self-Portraiture + Color Layering/Value = Amazing Imaginative Art!

Pop-art link:


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