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Current Elementary Units 2002-2003

Units and Themes for the 2002-2003 Academic Year:

Fall 2002 - The Language of Visual Art

Spring 2003 - The Artistry of World Cultures

The Language of Visual Art

Author: Lucy Andrus
Dates: Fall 2002 Semester
Written here for: 3rd Grade children in an inclusion class.

Conceptual Basis of the Unit:

The theme of this semester-long unit is The Language of Visual Art, with a focus on awareness and understanding of the basic art elements and principles, and learning to see with the eye of an artmaker. The students will learn that basic elements of line, shape, color and texture are not only the qualities that artmakers manipulate in creating their images, but are also properties that are seen in every object of our environment. Learning to perceive these elements with greater clarity will develop the students’ visual acuity, allowing them to more successfully comprehend, decode and negotiate the very visual world we live in. Being able to see the elements in objects ‘with the eye of an artmaker’ will also lay the foundation for developing the skills needed for rendering objects using visual media.

While the elements of art are the what, the principles of art are the how. The students will learn to apply basic art principles in learning how to manipulating the elements to achieve desired results.  (The elements are what artmakers use; the principles are how we use the elements.) Students will be introduced to principles of composition, spatial relationships and design.  Understanding and applying the principles of art enhances students’ planning and organizational abilities.

Finally, the students will explore narrative art, learning how visual artists communicate stories through the language of art.

Unit Goals (historical, cultural, artistic, developmental)

· Understand visual art and expression as a language with a unique alphabet, vocabulary, structure and semantics

· Increase awareness and understanding of basic art elements and principles

· Develop appreciation for the ways in which diverse artmakers across time and cultures use the elements and principles in giving visual form to their ideas

· Improve acuity in perceiving, comprehending, and creating meaningful constructs from visual stimuli

· Increase sense of competency though the ability to understand and communicate through visual language

· Enrich language and communication skills through understanding of visual narrative in art

· Increase knowledge and skill in the use of diverse methods, materials and processes for visual expression

Lessons in the Unit:

1. Small Group Mandalas: developing an initial sense of group identity and cohesion

2. Paint, Pigment and Prehistory: when it all began; humankinds’ inherent need for visual expression and communication  

3. What’s My Line?: introduction to the art elements and principles, focus on line

4. Mixed Media Still Life Three-Part Lesson: learning to see, learning to render, applying principles

Part 1 - Focus on Visual Perception of Line and Shape

Part 2 - Focus on Design Principles of Pattern and Repetition

Part 3 - Focus on Spatial Relationships and Composition

5. Narrative Dioramas Two-Part Lesson: using visual language to tell stories in three-dimensional space

Part 1 - Narrative Dioramas

Part 2 - Narrative Dioramas

6. Personal Sketchbooks: making, decorating and using personal sketchbooks as visual diaries.

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The Artistry of World Cultures

	Author: Lucy Andrus
	Dates:  Spring 2003 Semester
Written here for: 3rd Grade children in an inclusion class; applicable/adaptable to elementary and early middle school

Conceptual Basis of the Unit:

The theme of this semester-long unit is The Artistry of World Cultures, with a
focus on increasing awareness and understanding of artmakers and artistic
expression from diverse times and cultures. We will explore aspects of African
as well as Medieval European culture, reflecting the ancestral backgrounds of
our students and teaching team. The students will learn about the people,
customs, and aesthetic expressions of these two cultures, developing their
understanding that all artmakers, across time and culture, employ the same basic
art elements and principles in their work.

The students will also come to appreciate the means and methods diverse
peoples have used to give outward form to their inner visions, whether it be in
celebration of religious ideas, or the decoration of functional objects for everyday
living (“taking and making special”). The students will also learn how closely
aesthetic traditions and visual expressions reflect the culture and people who
produce them, from environmental and economic to social and political

Unit Goals (historical, cultural, artistic, developmental)

  • Develop awareness and appreciation for difference as well as similarity in the lifestyles and aesthetic systems of diverse cultural groups.

  • Increase awareness of the historical, social, political and environmental aspects of culture and how these are reflected in aesthetic expression and production.

  • Develop awareness and appreciation of art and aesthetic expression as a part of everyday life.

  • Understand and appreciate the use of art elements and principles by artmakers across time and cultures.

  • Develop knowledge and skill in using diverse two and three dimensional art processes and materials.

  • Improve abstract thinking skills through the use of visual symbols to express personal ideas.

  • Enhance self-concept through identification with cultural heritage.

  • Improve emotional intelligence: self-awareness, self-esteem and respect for self and others.

Lessons in the Unit:

1. African Textile Design, Finger Spinning and Weaving: Introduction to the
unit, and to West African textile arts with a focus on personal symbolism
through the art element of color.

2. Crowns of Inspiration: Focus on the Yoruba culture and the symbolism in
animal imagery and color.

3. Breastplates of Power and Protection: Focus on the idea of empowerment
and protection as expressed in body adornment in African culture.

4. Ceremony of Honor and Celebration Based on African Traditions: The
culminating experience in our series on African culture, where the children
wear what they created and participate in singing, dancing and drumming
followed by a feast of African foods.

5. Introduction to European Culture - The Middle Ages: Continuing our
semester-long unit on world cultures and introducing the series on European
culture, specifically the medieval era.

6. Illuminated Manuscripts: Expressing Ideas About Self as a Member of a
Family: combining ideas of narrative and illumination with heraldry, and
symbolic representation of self and family.

7. Medieval Fair and Marketplace:The last session in our series on Medieval
Europe as part of our semester-long unit on World Cultures, also the last
session of the year with our students, culminating in the reproduction of a
medieval marketplace and fair complete with stalls selling various items, and
a special celebration featuring the May Pole and dance, as well as a
medieval feast.

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