Art Lessons Students Can Appreciate
Art may be something some students have to learn to appreciate, but there is always a lesson that can do this.
By Cathy Neushul
Art is something that some students have to learn to appreciate. While one student might look at a painting and be mesmerized by the work, another might stroll right by without taking a second glance. The annual trip to the museum can be the same type of experience. While museums are places some students love, others feel that a visit is a method of torture slightly better than going to the doctor for shots, or the dentist to get a tooth pulled. Every once in a while you find a student who is in the "this is boring" camp who suddenly crosses over. You then have to ask yourself, what made the difference.
For most students, and people for that matter, art can best be appreciated when you are given the words and information to understand what you are looking at. During a trip to a local museum, many of my class were drawn to a colorful sand mandala displayed in a large glass case. For them, this was the most intriguing part of their experience. The reason they found the mandala particularly interesting was that they had learned about them, and understood the symbolism. They could appeciate what they were looking at.
The best art appreciation lessons provide the type of information that students find interesting , and, therefore, will remember. With many of the lessons I've included below you'll find examples of artwork from around the world. While some students might be drawn to an in-depth study of puppetry and the history of its use in Japan, Vietnam, and Bali, others might prefer learning aout Medieval tapestries and how they were created.
Art History-Renaissance to Modern Art: This lessons covers art appreciation through several different periods including the Renaissance, Realism, Impressionism, Expressionism, Abstract, and Modern art . Students work with the vocabulary and terms that goes with this study. They analyze such works as "Once Upon a Starry Night" by Van Gogh. Students analyze not only the painting style and technique, they also look for emotional readings on art work. They also develop an art vocabulary.
Art & Artists: An Appreciation: This lesson, found under Fouth Grade/Art, provides an overview of world art inlcuding Chinese, Islamic, and that of the American Revolution. It's one of those units that can't be described easily. There are so many cool things about it, it's hard to pick just one. For example, there's a lesson on Medieval tapestry. Students get to analyze the Bayeux Tapestry, and create their own class version. They also learn about African art and make a mask. While the series of lessons can be used in their original form, they can also be used individually. It's like getting a art and history lesson all rolled up into one.
Geometry and Art in Global Faith Traditions: This lesson provides a great way to learn about art, math, and world religions. After seeing student examples of a Buddhist mandala, anyone would be inspired to get out their art materials and get to work. The lesson provides an in-depth look at a Rose Window (Christianity), a Star of David (Judaism), a mandala (Buddhist), and an tessellating pattern (Islamic). Each of these examples provides an exploration in both art and geometry.
Sketchy business: This lesson provides examples of famous paintings, and helps children identify various aspects of creating art. There is a wonderful list of vocabulary words to use with their art- related meanings. You could get into an in-depth discussion of color by talking about hue, intensity, and value. The examples used are all intersting and unique. Everything you need for the lesson is included, the examples of art work, etc . . . Students are also supposed to sketch their own design.
The World of Puppetry : This lesson talks about the water puppetry of Vietnam, Bunraku puppets from Japan, and shadow puppetry from Java and Bali in Indonesia. Students might be surprised to find that puppets play an important cultural role in many countries. After learning about the history of puppetry, they could then design their own puppets, and put on a show.
The Lines of Perception: Using a variety of different examples students learn about perspective from a variety of different art works. In particular they look at works by Robert Harris, Robert Amos, and George Ackerman. There are a series of suggested lessons that follow that allow students to explore different types of art work.