Baltimore Curriculum Project Draft Lessons

Introductory Notes

These lessons generally follow the grade-by-grade topics in the Core Knowledge Sequence, but they have been developed independent of the Core Knowledge Foundation. While the Core Knowledge Foundation encourages the development and sharing of lessons based on the Core Knowledge Sequence, it does not endorse any one set of lesson plans as the best or only way that the knowledge in the Sequence should be taught.

You may feel free to download and distribute these lessons, but please note that they are currently in DRAFT form. At this time the draft lessons on this web site do NOT have accompanying graphics, such as maps or cut-out patterns. Graphics will be added to this site later.

In participating BCP schools, these lessons are used in conjunction with the Direct Instruction skills programs in reading, language, and math. If you use or adapt these lessons, keep in mind that they are meant to address content and the application of skills. You will need to use other materials to ensure that children master skills in reading, language, and math.


First Grade - Visual Arts - Lesson 14 - Texture in Sculpture


Review the difference between painting and sculpture.

Observe carefully a bronze statue by Degas.

Identify the medium as bronze.


A sampling of 3-dimensional forms used for Lesson 12 (See suggested list in that lesson.)

Pictures of traditional sculpture (an animal, a statue, hero on a horse, Greek statue, etc.) from books or magazines

A 3-dimensional object of bronze, such as a trophy, bronzed baby shoes, etc.

Slide of The Temptation of Adam and Eve from the workshop of Giovanni della Robbia

Slide of Little Dancer, Fourteen Years Old by Edgar Degas

One-half yard of netting, cut into pieces for demonstration of texture

Suggested Book

The Art of Sculpture. Scholastic Voyages of Discovery Series. New York: Scholastic, 1995.

The text is too complicated and the layout too busy for reading to first graders, but selected images are good to show the children, and one of the pages actually feels like bas relief!

Paine, Roberta M. Looking at Sculpture. New York: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard, 1968.

This book is beautifully organized to talk about specific kinds of sculpture, their definitions, the tools required and working process for each. Illustrations in black and white show a great range of time periods and cultures. Again, the text is not appropriate for reading aloud, but selected parts of it and all of the images can be shared with the children.


Review with the children the differences between painting and sculpture (from Lesson 12). Ask: Who remembers what kind of sculpture we looked at that showed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden? (bas relief--they may also suggest the name della Robbia) Point out any drawing or painting hanging in the room and tell them that when we talk about paintings, we say they are two-dimensional (Point out length and width.) When we talk about sculpture, we say they are three-dimensional. (Show them any of the simple forms you collected for Lesson 12 and point out length, width, and depth.)

Ask: What do two-dimensional art works have? (length and width) Let several children take turns pointing out two-dimensional art works or pictures to the class. Then pass out the three-dimensional forms from Lesson 12 and ask: What do three-dimensional art works have? (length, width, and depth) Let several children take turns showing the three-dimensional forms to the rest of the class, emphasizing each of the three different dimensions. Ask: What do we call three-dimensional art works? (sculpture)

Ask: What kind of sculpture did we say the della Robbia Adam and Eve was? (bas relief)

Say: Bas relief sculpture has three dimensions, but it is flat on the back. Often bas relief sculpture is against the walls of churches or other large buildings like court houses or city halls. When we can walk all the way around a piece of sculpture and see the real form of the back as well as the front and sides, we call it sculpture in the round.


First Grade - Visual Arts - Lesson 14 - Texture in Sculpture

Next, show the Degas slide without giving the title. Ask what they think this is (a dancer, a girl in a ballet costume, sculpture, statue of a ballet dancer). If the children have had the music lesson for this month on The Nutcracker ballet, remind them about ballet dancing and ask whether they noticed the way a ballerina often stands with one leg rotated outward just the way this sculptor has turned the girl's right leg. Tell the children this sculpture is called Little Dancer, Fourteen Years Old, and it was made by a French artist named Edgar Degas about a hundred years ago. (Have someone find France as part of the continent of Europe on a map of the world.) Ask: Do you think Degas liked the ballerina? Tell them that Degas was fascinated by the ballet and also painted many many pictures of ballerinas dancing.

Ask: Do you think this is a bas relief sculpture or sculpture in the round? How can you tell? (She stands freely on the platform with arms behind her and her two legs in very different places.) Say: This sculpture is in the Baltimore Museum of Art, and if you visit there, you'll see that you can walk completely around the statue; you can look at her from the front, from the back, and from the sides.

Pass around the class the bronze sculpted object (baby shoes, trophy, paper weight, etc.) you have brought in, and ask the children to suggest some words you will write on the chalkboard that describes what the object feels like to them (hard, round, cool, smooth). Tell the children that the Degas sculpture they can see at the Baltimore Museum of Art is made in bronze, that in another lesson you will talk about what different kinds of materials sculptors use for their work, and for now you want them to remember what bronze feels like.

Next, show the children the pictures you have brought of other, traditional pieces of sculpture. Encourage the children to respond to the pictures with whatever occurs to them (looks like a real animal, looks like a brave man, whatever responses they wish that show they are looking carefully).

Have them look again at the Degas slide and think about the pictures of other sculpture they have just seen in the pictures. Ask: What strikes you as different about this sculpture of the young ballerina? If no one comments on the tutu, say: Do you think that if you were able to touch this statue, it would all feel hard like the one we just passed around? Then pass around the pieces of netting and say: Ballerinas wear little short skirts called tutus, and they feel just like this. Ask the children to suggest some words to write on the chalkboard to describe the way the netting feels (scratchy, rough, not much hard surface compared to the bronze object).

Tell the children that the word artists use when they talk about the way things feel is texture. Read the two lists of words you have on the board, and ask: If you were to compare the texture of the bronze object and the netting, what would you say? This may suggest more words describing one or the other, which you can add to the lists. Ask: What is the name of the term that artists use to describe how things feel to our hands? (texture)


First Grade - Visual Arts - Lesson 15 - Texture


Review the meaning of the term texture.

Review the meaning of sculpture in the round.

Feel materials exemplifying a variety of textures.

Complete an activity using materials of different textures as part of a 3-dimensional figure.


Slide of Degas' Little Fourteen-Year-Old Dancer

Large lump of clay or play-doh for each child

Popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners, pairs of round buttons, pieces of styrofoam packing "popcorn"

Scraps of fabrics, sand paper, cardboard, burlap, ribbons

Note to the Teacher

The activity the children will work on for this lesson is to create a fanciful three-dimensional figure out of clay that utilizes many different textures. Depending on the skills and interests of the individual children, some might choose to make animals, human figures, or the heads of either animals or people. If possible, the activity should be presented with the idea of real experimentation rather than a means to create a work of art. For example, in the case of a human figure, the child might have to experiment with balancing the body and head on popsicle-stick legs to prevent the figure from toppling over. In the case of a person's head, the child would have to figure out how to anchor it so that it is upright. They also need to be aware of the possibilities of decorating the back and sides of the figure/head, so if possible have them work on surfaces where they can view what they are making from different perspectives and angles. You will have to circulate among the children frequently to help them solve some of the "engineering" problems they encounter, and they can also be encouraged to help one another. Those children with little experience or confidence with clay might be encouraged to make a porcupine or bunny rabbit at rest.


Show the children the slide of the Degas sculpture they saw in the preceding lesson. Ask if someone remembers the title (Little Fourteen-Year-Old-Dancer) and what kind of work of art it is (sculpture). Ask how sculpture is different from painting. Then ask whether it is bas relief sculpture or sculpture in the round and how they know. (Be sure they know that both have three dimensions but only the latter can they walk all around and see from the back as well as front and sides.)

Remind the children that in the previous lesson they learned that the Degas statue they see in the slide can be seen first hand and up close at the Baltimore Museum of Art. Ask: How big do you think this sculpture is? (Let them guess and discuss.) Tell them it is thirty-nine inches, or a little more than three feet tall. (Show that height, either by an indication on the board or--if you know one of the students to be that height--by having the child stand.) Ask how that compares to their heights, and point out that sculpture can be life-size, smaller, or larger-than-life, depending on what the artist wants. Ask whether they think a fourteen-year-old would be larger, smaller, or the same size as thirty-nine inches.


First Grade - Visual Arts - Lesson 15 - Texture

Next, ask who remembers what material this sculpture is made of and what its texture is.

Encourage them to recall that the statue is made of bronze, a material that feels hard and quite smooth and that the short skirt she is wearing is made of netting or tulle, which feels very different (soft but a little stiff, too). Let them come to a table where you have put out some of the materials from the list above, and have them feel them and help you make out a chart on the chalkboard that lists each material and words that describe its texture. For example, you might have sandpaper: rough, scratchy or yarn: wooly, soft.

Say: One of the things that was so different about this sculpture of Degas at the time that he made it was the way he used texture. If you remember the pictures of other sculpture we looked at, they were made out of just one kind of material--clay, stone, bronze for example which are good hard materials that help the sculpture to stand and support itself. In fact, when Degas made the original sculpture, he built it out of wax, and he put a wig made out of horsehair on the head, a real satin ribbon for her hair, real ballet slippers, and the ballet skirt we call a tutu. Think of all the different textures he used! People who saw it were really surprised!


Give each child some clay and tell them that they are going to make three-dimensional forms out of the clay. From the Teacher Information above, decide how best to present the project to the children, depending on their levels of ability. Again, be sure they do this activity in the spirit of experimentation, and give them plenty of encouragement in their various projects. You may want to go through the list of textures you have listed on the board with their help, so they have reminders of all the different-feeling materials they have to work with. Let them choose materials from the table as needed--for example, pieces of yarn to push into a clay head as bushy eyebrows, round buttons for eyes, pieces of sandpaper for unshaven face, and so on.

Put the figures on exhibition somewhere in the room when they are finished, and you may want to conclude by talking about the kinds of problems they encountered in trying to make sculpture in the round that can stand on its own. Tell them that these are exactly the problems that all sculptors face every time they set to work, and congratulate them on what they have done.


First Grade - Visual Arts - Lesson 16 - Ivory Carving


Look carefully at carved medieval horn.

Understand carving as another form of sculpture.

Learn that in medieval times art was used to decorate useful objects.

Make a crafted object to wear.


Slide of 11th-century, Italian hunting horn

Tagboard sufficient to make rounded triangles for each child (pattern below)

Black crayons, white tempera, dish detergent, paint brushes, round toothpicks

Heavy twine or yarn


Show the children the slide and ask them to guess what this is. Accept all reasonable guesses. Then, if no one says it is a horn, ask whether they recall what they learned in World Religions about the way Jews are called to prayer on special holidays. (A man blows into a shofer or ram's horn, making a piercing noise.) Tell them that this is also a hollow horn for blowing into, and it is probably a hunting horn for making a signal.

Say: This is the kind of horn you blow into, but it is not actually made from an animal's horn the way a shofer is. Can you guess what this might be made of? (ivory, ivory tusk) Tell the children that nowadays we are no longer allowed to use ivory tusks of elephants for making things, because we do not want to kill the elephants, but long ago they did not realize that it was important to save wild animals.

Say: Do you think this hunting horn was made recently or long ago? (long ago) Why? (looks worn, color uneven) Tell them that the horn was made nearly a thousand years ago on the continent of Europe near the Mediterranean Sea. (Have someone point this area out on the map.) Ask: What do you think about the decorations on the horn? What are they? (animals and birds) How do you think the artist made those designs? (carved them)

Can you think of any kind of sculpture that we've talked about recently that reminds you of this carved hunting horn? (bas relief sculpture) Remind the children that the bas relief sculpture we looked at (in Lesson 12) of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden was used to decorate the inside of the wall of a church. There were many, many sculptures used in churches long ago to make beautiful the place where people gathered for prayer and thanksgiving. Sometimes even the outside walls were covered with different kinds of sculpture, so everyone in the town could see the art as they passed the building.

Tell the children to look again at this horn and see that, in addition to the animals and birds, the artist has used different swirling designs in bands around the horn. Say: The lucky hunter who used this horn probably had it hanging from his belt. When he wanted to bring it to his mouth to give the signal, he could feel all the carved decorations the artists had made and feel the cool hardness of the ivory.

Have the children brainstorm with you about using beautiful things in their everyday lives. Perhaps someone has a pottery or ceramic bowl that was handmade, a mug for chocolate that has bas-relief carving, or even a hand-carved barrette or comb. They may want to bring something in to share with the rest of the class.


First Grade - Visual Arts - Lesson 16 - Ivory Carving


Tell the children that the Native Americans in Alaska (show on world or U.S. map) have for many years carved pictures and designs on the implements they use. They call it scrimshaw and use it to decorate ivory buttons, buckles, tools, weapons, and toys for their children. In the days of colonial America, men who went off to the sea for months at a time in order to catch whales for lamp oil often made scrimshaw as well. The materials were readily available to them, since they could get tusks from seals and carried knives and other cutting tools for carving.

Say: Today you are going to make something you can wear that is decorated with designs the way scrimshaw is. You can put it on a string to hang around your neck.

Give each child one of the tagboard rounded triangles you have cut out beforehand. Have prepared one teaspoon of the dish detergent with about a cup of tempera paint and pour into small dishes for each table of children. Tell them to:

1. Color the surface of the tagboard with a think layer of black crayon.

2. Paint the mixture over the surface and allow to dry.

3. Give each child a toothpick and tell them to scratch out any designs, figures, lines, and shapes of any kind they choose.

4. When they have finished, go around the room and staple the two sides of the triangle, forming a small tube for each child. At the same time, insert a piece of pre-cut twine or yarn to make a "chain" for hanging the tube like a pendant.

shape for cutting out of tagboard


First Grade - Visual Arts - Lesson 17 - Alabaster Assyrian Sculpture


Look closely at ancient bas relief sculpture of stone.

Review the different materials used for sculpture.

Learn that sculpture can be made by cutting away or adding material.


Slide of della Robbia's The Temptation of Adam and Eve

Slide of Degas' Little Fourteen-Year-Old Dancer

Slide of 11th-century ivory hunting horn

Slide of Assyrian Winged Genius

Map of eastern Mediterranean from World Religion, Lesson 2, or classroom size world map

Note to the Teacher

This lesson should be the culmination of the group of lessons the children have had this month about different kinds of sculpture. Good supplementary books for this are the Roberta Paine Looking at Sculpture mentioned in Lesson 14 and also the several section on sculpture in Massey and Darst's Learning to Look (Prentice Hall, 1992) that we've recommended earlier in the year. This would be a wonderful time to take the children on a visit to either the BMA or the Walters. Not only do they have the pieces the children have been studying, but both museums have many other pieces of sculpture that the children could see up close.

Also, in order to show the children the locus of ancient Assyrian art, you might use the map from World Religions, Lesson 2 and refresh their memories about the early civilizations in the area of the Tigris and Euphrates river valleys. They will be studying more about these ancient civilizations in April, so this can be a way of tying together information they had in December.


Using one of the maps mentioned above, point out the crescent-shaped area between the eastern Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf as you did in World Religion, Lesson 2. Ask: Does anyone remember the term fertile crescent? If no one remembers, tell them again about the area being named for the shape of the crescent moon. Next, review briefly with the children the fact that the fertile land between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers (show) made this an ideal place to grow crops, and it became one of the first places we know about where people settled down to live and work thousands of years ago.

Say: Many different groups of people held this land over the years and gave it different names. The sculpture we are going to look at today was made during the time it was held by people called the Assyrians nearly three thousand years ago. One of their kings had a name that sounds very strange to our ears--it was Ashurbanipal. (Have the children say it, a shur BAN ih pal.) Ashurbanipal had a huge, magnificent palace built for himself. It was made of many different kinds of wood, inlaid with gold and silver, magnificently carved doors, and it even had carving on the walls of the rooms, just the way many churches in Europe did thousands of years later.

Show the children the slide of the Assyrian Winged Genius. Ask them what they think it.


First Grade - Visual Arts - Lesson 17 - Alabaster Assyrian Sculpture

is, and accept any answer that indicates the child has looked carefully. (They may notice things

such as: face of a man, beard, long hair, body seems to be standing sideways and straight on at the same time.) Ask what they think about the wings. Ask: What else have you seen with wings in art? (birds, angels) What do wings usually tell us when they are on a person, or someone who looks like a human being? See whether you can have them understand that the wings tell us that this person is something more than just human, the way we think of angels.

Say: This figure is called Winged Genius, and if you go to see it at the Walters Art Gallery, you will see that it is really twenty-one and a half feet high and seven and a half feet wide. (Indicate the immensity by telling the children that would mean probably twice as high as their classroom, and show them the width on a wall.) Tell them we think it was probably on the wall of the banquet hall of the palace, where meals were served to the king and his guests.

Ask: Why do you think the artist made this figure so big? (to show how powerful the king was) There may be other things about this figure you want to explore with the children, such as the presentation of both frontal and profile of the upper body, the meaning of the horns on the helmet (also a sign of divinity, like the wings), the implements he holds, and the decoration at his right wrist. Let them use their imaginations about these things. Be sure to point out the well defined musculature in the arms and almost graphic detail of muscles in the leg. Ask: Why do you think the artist showed us all those muscles? (to show how powerful the king was)

Ask the children what they think this sculpture is made of (stone). Tell them it was originally made from a single piece of alabaster, which is a kind of stone that is especially good for carving. Say: Can you imagine how big that piece of alabaster was and how hard it was to move it and work on it? Let the children guess what kinds of tools were used to make the sculpture.

After they have talked about the tools, ask them whether this is sculpture in the round or bas relief sculpture, and congratulate them if they remember what it is and why. Finally, show the other slides mentioned above, one at a time, and review with the children the kind of sculpture it is, the material it is made of, and whether the form has been basically carved away or built up. When you have gathered the information into a chart on the blackboard, you might decide to make a large chart to keep on display, so that the children can be reminded. If you could make a sketch of each on the displayed chart, that would be even better.

In the case of the Degas, you may choose to keep it simple, and have the children just remember that it is made of bronze. If they are especially interested, remind them of what you told them in Lesson 15--that Degas actually made the figure of the dancer in wax, adding real ballet slippers and stockings, the tutu, a real pigtail made of horsehair and tied with a ribbon. This means he originally built up the figure the way the Adam and Eve figures were built up out of clay, so the original ballerina sculpture would fall into that category on the chart. Several years after Degas died, castings were made: melted, liquid bronze was poured into specially prepared molds to produce twenty of the figures. That's why we can still see the markings of the real clothing and hair that Degas put on his wax dancer.