Art lessons for Foundation to Year 6 – Victorian Curriculum aligned
I am a primary school Art teacher in Melbourne, Australia. I have been teaching Art for 10 years and I love finding out about artists and their artworks to inspire students. I want to share my lesson and unit plans and student artwork examples with other art teachers.
These lessons were part of the Year 3 & 4 Inquiry Unit of ‘Food Sources’. We began by viewing artworks by Guiseppe Arcimboldo, describing, discussing and comparing, then we watched a couple of YouTube videos about the artist (see full lesson plan link below)
I went to a market and bought a variety of fruit and veg including $1 bags of food on their last legs! I also got students to bring in pieces of fruit and vegetables to use to make a food portrait. I set up a table with the fruit and veg in containers, some cut in half and 5 face templates to work on. The other students were working on drawing a food face portrait.
Learning Intentions: To learn about the art of Giuseppe Arcimboldo. To compare 2 Arcimboldo artworks, interpreting the artist’s intention. I can describe some Arcimboldo artworks, discussing the materials and techniques used to make them, what the artwork is made of, what choice of material is used to enhance the audience’s understanding of the artist’s intention, and compare artworks, noting similarities and differences. (Explore ideas and artworks from different cultures and times as inspiration to create visual artworks (VCAVAE025)Identify and discuss how ideas are expressed in artworks from a range of places, times and cultures(VCAVAR028) )
To learn about UNITY, VARIETY and TEXTURE so I can combine elements of different fruit & vegetables to to create interest, and make a balanced, harmonious, complete whole. I can use real fruit, vegetables and food to make a food portrait which I will photograph to capture my creation. I can draw various fruit and vegetables in an arrangement to make a face portrait. (Explore visual conventions and use materials, techniques, technologies and processes specific to particular art forms, and to make artworks (VCAVAV026)) Explore different ways of displaying artworks to enhance their meaning for an audience (VCAVAP027)
Students viewed the artwork by Arcimboldo entitled Vertumnus (1590) and completed an “I see, I think, I wonder” then shared thoughts. Another activity was to compare 2 artworks in a Venn diagram.
Lesson for Prep /Foundation class. Achievement Standards:
Students make artworks using different materials and techniques that express their ideas, observations and imagination.
Students identify and describe the subject matter and ideas in artworks they make and view.
Learning Intentions: We are learning about how colour can express feelings and emotions in art. We are learning how to draw features on a face to show emotion.
Start off with the story: ‘My Many Coloured Days’ by Dr Seuss. Discuss how feelings and emotions can be expressed with colours. Using the colour wheel choose colours that best go with some common emotions of happy (yellow), sad (blue), angry (red), frightened (orange), embarrassed (purple) and relaxed (green).
Use mirrors to look at your face when showing different feelings. Note eyes, eyebrows and mouth and draw some examples on the board. I got the children to draw a face showing a feeling next to each colour on the colour wheel in their books.
Children then choose 4 feelings to show on 4 faces. They traced a face template and drew their four chosen emotions in black waterproof marker (Prockey), using examples to help. Then they used food dye wash to paint each face the colour matching the emotions.
Next lesson we listened to/watched another story: ‘The Way I feel’ on Youtube and discussed how we can feel all sorts of emotions even in one day. I had drawn an outline of a body on large sheets of paper and they used different colour pastels to trace over the border . They then use water colour paints to paint patches of colours on the inside of the body shape to represent our varying emotions.
The faces were then cut out and glued around the body shape. The faces could be smaller than what we did (as I had the brainwave to combine the two activities. You could of course display them as separate artworks!) Here are a couple put together:
Students share their pictures, describing the emotions shown and colours chosen, maybe relating a time they felt that particular emotion.
Different Autumn leaves can be used to add variety of shape and size to this art project. Students used a foam roller to roll white paint over a leaf, and then place it carefully onto black paper, placing another piece of paper on top and rubbing it with a flat hand, before carefully lifting the paper and leaf.
Autumn colours (warm colours) were then dabbed around the leaf print.
ANZAC day in Australia marks the courage and bravery of soldiers on the day the ANZAC soldiers landed in Gallipoli, Turkey in 1915, and broadly commemorates all Australians and New Zealanders who served and/or died in all wars. School usually have a ceremony to remember the people who suffered and sacrificed their lives during wars.
I cut out a large circle wreath shape from a cardboard box. Students sponged green paint over one side. They also sponged a combination of green, yellow and brown over green cover paper with leaf templates already drawn on the back. Once dry, the leaves were cut out and glued onto the cardboard wreath.
Students used circles of red tissue paper, crepe paper or patty pans to make a poppy.
Students used real Autumn leaves to draw the outline of the shape. They then used warm / Autumn colours to colour the leaf in coloured pencils; brown or red pencil to draw the lines of the veins. Sharpies (fine liners) were used to add zentangle patterns in each section.
Autumn is a great time to use colourful leaves of various shapes and sizes for students to use for observation drawings. I had Year 4 students choose a leaf to place in front of them to draw (some students found it easier to trace the leaf to get the shape right) They began using oil pastels in a colour close to the colours on the leaf, making sure to emphasise the veins on the leaf. They blended colours with their finger to spread the colour to look natural, rather than blocks of colours.
The topic for the school was ‘Community’ so I thought Year 5 and 6 could look at the houses in the local area (including student’s own homes if they chose). I introduced the Australian artist Howard Arkley (now deceased) and his artwork through a youtube video (see lesson unit plan) and a powerpoint with examples of his artwork. (see below)
Arkley’s house artworks were inspired by houses in the Melbourne suburb of Oakleigh. After returning from Europe he observed the suburban decorative gates and flywire doors, and used the patterns on his exterior and interior house artworks. He mainly used an airbrush on his artworks because he could make marks quickly and didn’t really like working directly with a paintbrush. He used real estate adverts and magazines for the images.
First, I actually got the students to do some research to get some basic facts about Arkley and his style and technique of art, and produce it as an artist poster (along the way discussing principles of art to help with the composition- balance, variety, etc.
Students used ipads to take a photo of their own home from the front or from the street, or get a screen shot of it from google street view, or get a screen shot of a local house from a real estate website.
Students at my school have their own ipads, so it makes it easy for them to use apps for digital art. They used the Brushes Redux App (free) to bring in the photo, add a layer and then trace the outline of the house, garden, fence etc. They uploaded just the traced outline to Google classroom, so I could print these off on A3 paper.
They then painted their house and surrounds in exaggerated colours, and blue dye wash for the sky. Early finishers experimented with making stencil prints, to see the colour contrast and pattern design to help them decide where would be best to use particular patterns.
Next lesson, students masked off areas with strips of paper so they only printed within the chosen outlines.
This art lesson is a good for Foundation students early in the year. It fits in well with themes of ‘Community’ or ‘My Neighbourhood’ when these Mondrian artworks can be interpreted like a map with the lines being streets and the coloured shapes being places on the map like houses. It introduces the primary colours and horizontal and vertical lines. Full lesson plan with Victorian Curriculum alignments below.
Our school theme was Community, so for Foundation students it was all about the places familiar to them. So our first activity in the art room was to make a collage (mixed media) of their house (with a bit of added imagination!) Full lesson plan below.
When students start school in Foundation (Prep) some are not confident with certain activities in the art room, so I really show them lots of examples, use directed drawing or as with this activity, have some pre-cut shapes for them to choose from, and then they can add their own details. This activity took 2 one hour lessons. The lesson plan below has the learning intentions and success criteria, lesson activity sequence and materials.
I spend a lot of time on planning for my art lessons, usually wanting to fit in with a class topic or school theme. I research artists whose work students can view and use for inspiration. I want to share my lessons and plans so that other art teachers may just find it saves some time not having to write/type up the details of every lesson. I’m always on the lookout for ready made lessons I can cut and paste into my documents, but more often than not, I am writing my own.
I often look for ideas for student artwork on the topic, then work out the Elements of art that can be covered, skills, techniques and processes to be engaged with and adaptations for the year level.
As I am teaching in Victoria, Australia, we use the Victorian Curriculum which has four strands (Explore and Express, Visual Art Practices, Present and Perform, and Respond and Interpret) all of which involve making and responding to art. Most primary school art Curriculums will have similar structure, standards and descriptors.
Here is a blank unit planning template for Foundation with the Victorian Curriculum with the strands and standards. I usually add in the 5E sequence (Engage, Explore, Explain, Extend/Elaborate/ Explain) in the description of the learning activities.