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 5


Review primary colors.


White construction paper

Yellow, red, and dark blue construction paper (tear the sheets in half)




Read and discuss either Rainsong Snowsong by Philemon Sturges or A Letter for Amy by Ezra Jack Keats. Ask: In what kind of weather do we wear raincoats? Does the main character in the story seem to be enjoying the rainy weather? Tell the children that the primary colors are used in the illustrations or pictures to this story. Ask: Can someone name the primary colors? Which primary color is the main character's raincoat? Tell the children that the illustrations for the story were made in a special way. The illustrator glued pieces of paper and other materials, such as fabric, cotton, dried flowers/leaves, etc. to sheets of paper to make the illustrations. This type of art is called collage.

Have the children make their own collage of the main character from either of the stories. Pass out a sheet of white construction paper and half a sheet of yellow, red, and dark blue construction paper to each child. Tell the children that they are going to use the primary colors: red, blue, and yellow to make a collage of their own. Demonstrate for the children how they can fold the yellow paper in half and tear out one arm and half the body of a raincoat, so that when they open the paper they have an entire yellow raincoat (diagram below). Next, demonstrate folding a piece of red paper in half and tearing out a red boot through both sheets, so that you have two boots when you are finished. Lastly, show them how they can tear raindrops out of the blue paper. Allow the children time to tear out their shapes and glue them on to the white paper to complete their collages. Once they have pasted their shapes down, have the children use crayons to draw a head and hands on the figure. They may also want to personalize their collages by adding details to them (an umbrella, trees, etc).

Suggested Books

Sturges, Philemon. Rainsong Snowsong. New York: North-South Books, 1995.

Keats, Ezra Jack. A Letter for Amy. New York: Harper, 1968.


First Grade - Visual Arts - Lesson 6

(biographical information from African-American Artists in the Collection of the BMA, a Teacher Packet prepared by Linda Andre of the BMA)


Observe the energetic use of color in an abstract painting.

Listen to some biographical details about an African American woman artist.


Slide of Alma Thomas's Evening Glow, 1972

Sets of crayons and pieces of white drawing paper for each child

Tins of thinned tempera paint or water color in a single color and brushes for each child


First, tell the children that you are going to show them a slide of a painting done by an African-American artist who lived a long life from 1891 to 1978. She was born in the state of Georgia (find it on the classroom U.S. map). As a child she loved making all kinds of things with her hands, using all kinds of materials including clay. She was a very good student at school in subjects like math and science, but her favorite place to work was the art room. She was a teacher of art history at a junior high school in Washington D.C.--make sure the children know the proximity of D.C. to Baltimore--for thirty-six years before she was able to spend most of her time painting in her older age.

Tell them that the artist was eighty-one years old when she made the painting you are going to show them. Show the children the slide without telling the title. Ask: Do you think Alma Thomas was a young or old woman when she painted this painting? (See whether any of the children have a grandmother or great-grandmother in her 80's and let them describe her.) Ask:

What is there about the painting that might make you think it was done by a young person (use of color, cheerful, energetic)

What do you see in the painting? Animals? People? Flowers or fruit? Landscape?

Tell the children the title of the painting and ask why they think Alma Thomas chose that name for the painting. (Encourage as many children as possible to respond.)

Tell the children that this is called an abstract painting, which is an important term to painters in our modern times. Tell them that when painters create abstract paintings, they have no intention of making recognizable people, animals, or scenes. Instead, they are just interested in exploring the elements of art such as color, shape, line, and texture in themselves.

Ask: Which element of art do you think Alma Thomas is thinking of in this painting?


Which are the warm and the cool colors in this painting? (cool- blue; warm - golden yellow and red)

Which colors seem to stand out and come forward? (golden yellow and red)

Which color seems to be the background? (blue)

Tell the children that actually the blue--instead of being the "background" of the painting, was the last color that the artist used. For most parts of the painting, there are areas of orange and yellow that were put on first. Tell the children to look more closely at the painting and see


First Grade - Visual Arts - Lesson 6

whether they can tell something about the blue that they didn't see at first. If they need some hints, ask them to notice whether the blue is smoothly covering or whether it looks like individual brush strokes (individual brush strokes, about 3" long and 1" wide for most of the painting). They should begin to recognize that the red-orange and yellow patches of color are really showing through in all the places where the little blue brush strokes did not meet.

Ask whether they can look less closely now, and with slightly dreamy eyes, also see the whole painting as a particular kind of feeling that suggests other things, such as stars in the night sky, sunset colors in the evening, or reflections on the surface of a pond of water. Ask whether any other scenes suggest themselves to the children and what they are.


Pass out the paper, crayons, and the single-color wash for each child. Tell the children that they are going to create some colorful designs using colors. Have them make designs on the paper without any thought to particular objects, just the design, using as many colors as they wish. When they have finished their designs, tell them to look carefully at the designs and hold them up so that you and all the children can see one another's designs. Next, tell them to apply a wash, or thin covering of paint with their paintbrushes. Have them look again at their designs to see how they have changed and whether the colors look different with the addition of the wash. As soon as they are dry, have the children hold them up again and encourage them to make observations about which seems to be background--the paint or the crayons, and how their design changed when they added the wash of paint.

Suggested Book (to add to list from Lesson 1)

Micklethwait, Lucy. A Child's Book of Art. New York: Dorling Kindersley, 1993.

This oversize book (10 " x 14") is nearly without text. Large reproductions of two- dimensional works of art are arranged beautifully on the pages and grouped according to headings that will make sense to children and, at the same time, stimulate their imaginations. This would make an outstanding addition to a classroom library for children to browse through without having to depend on reading a text to understand.

Additional suggestion for Teacher

Don't forget that the Teacher Packet African-American Artists in the Collection of the BMA is available for extended borrowing at the Baltimore Museum of Art and contains twenty slides, biographical information about each artist, and suggested Discussion Questions for each work of art.


First Grade - Visual Arts - Lesson 7


Gain an understanding of the term landscape painting.

Observe the use of color in a landscape painting.


Slide of Henri Rousseau, Quai d'vry

Slide of Paul Cézanne, Mt. Sainte Victoire

Slides of Antoine Barye: Elephant at Drinking Place and Lion Stopping Before a Snake, 19th c.

Background Material for Teachers

Henri Rousseau was a largely self-taught, French painter who lived from 1844 to 1910. Until he was forty years old, he held a regular job inspecting wagons coming into the city of Paris to determine whether they were carrying any products that required paying tax. Since he did not have the money to attend art school, he learned to paint by going to the Louvre Museum where he copied the paintings he studied. When he finally quit his regular job so that he could spend more time painting, he supported himself by giving music lessons. His most famous painting is The Sleeping Gypsy. The landscape painting the children will see today was painted in 1900.

Paul Cézanne (1839-1906) had a nearly lifelong relationship with Mt. Sainte Victoire, which dominates the landscape in the slide. He spent many happy summers as a child climbing the mountain, taking in its characteristic colors. As an adult he painted the mountain about sixty times, renting a little cottage at Bibémus Quarry which gave him a grand view of the mountain, and reveling in the opportunity to paint outside in the Provence countryside. The painting the children will see was done between 1897 and 1900.


Tell the children that today they are going to look at slides of two paintings, each painted almost exactly one hundred years ago by two different Frenchmen. Have someone find the country (France) they come from on the map and identify the continent (Europe) it belongs to. Say: Both of these paintings are called landscapes. Can anyone guess what that means? If no one knows, encourage them to think about the word land and help them build a definition by telling them that--although there may be people, animals, and other objects in a landscape painting--it is the land itself that is most important. Tell them you will first show them four different slides, two are landscapes and two are not. They are to guess which are which. Show the four slides in any order you choose. Let them take a good look at each one and then indicate yes or no in whatever way you think is instructive.

In order to reinforce the idea of what a landscape painting is, have them spend a little time looking at the two Barye works. Show them the slide of the lion. Ask them what is the most important thing in the painting (the lion) and how they can tell (size, movement, center of the picture). Ask what the lion is looking at (snake below) so they will see that all of the focus is the relationship between the two animals. Ask what they notice about the colors (all pretty much the same). If there is time, do the same with the other Barye slide.



First Grade - Visual Arts - Lesson 7

When you think they have understood why the two Barye works are not landscape paintings, put them away for another time. Say: The two landscapes that you have looked at were painted at almost exactly the same time by two men who came from the same country, but they look very, very different. Let's see if you can tell me what makes one so different from the other. Next, show them the Rousseau slide again. Tell them to look carefully and then tell you what they see in the picture (houses, smokestack, man fishing, two other figures, boat, wharf, water). Remind them that although all the things they named are certainly in the painting, the most important thing is the landscape--all the parts put together as a scene. Ask whether they like the

painting. Why &/or why not? Ask what they can tell you about the colors in the painting. They will probably tell you about all the dark colors and perhaps about the light blue sky. Tell them to notice especially how the cool, light blue sky seems so far away.

Ask: How can the sky be so light and blue and the other colors so dark?

Where is the sun in this picture (probably behind the dark cloud)

Why does everything look so dark? (silhouettes without being lit from the sun)

Try to have the children talk a bit about silhouettes and the lack of color in the wintertime or in the west just before the sun goes down. Tell them they should experiment by watching outside their windows in the evening to see how things begin to look in silhouette when they are no longer illuminated by the sun.

Next, show them the Cezanne landscape. Ask: What is the first thing you notice that is very different about this landscape? They will probably say color or sunlight. Tell them to take a good look and see how much they can remember about how the painting looks until you have the next lesson, when you will talk more about this landscape.


First Grade - Visual Art - Lesson 8


Compare the use of color in two landscape paintings.

Review the uses of line in a landscape painting.


Slide of Rousseau's Quai d'Ivry

Slide of Cezanne's Mt. Ste. Victoire


Review with the children what they remember about the colors in the Rousseau landscape. Let them look at the slide for a few minutes to review some of the things they discussed about color and silhouette at the last lesson. Next, show them the slide of the Cézanne painting and have them identify some of the colors (gold, ochre, green, blue, yellow, orange). Ask: Where is the sun in this painting? (everywhere, fills everything)

Do you remember where the sun was in the Rousseau painting? (behind a cloud)

What do you think is the most important thing in the painting? (the mountain)

How can you tell? (goes nearly to the top of the painting, has all the different colors of the painting combined)

Tell the children that you want them to think about what kinds of lines the painter has used in this picture. If they need some hints, point out the many curved lines, the dark line that outlines the mountain peak. Ask what kinds of lines Cézanne uses to paint the green trees? (short dabs of color, fairly short brush strokes). Ask: Do you remember anything about the lines in the other landscape painting we looked at last time by Rousseau? (sharp lines with lots of angles in the houses) Show them that slide again. Ask whether they can see the brush strokes (no, the surface looks very smooth, shapes look very uniform and solid).

Go back to the Cézanne and ask the children how they think the artist felt about the landscape he was painting (loved it deeply, took great joy in it). Then tell the children that the artist had known the area around the mountain for his whole life--that he had climbed the mountain as a child and that when he grew up he painted the same landscape about sixty different times, and that each time he painted it, it looked a little different.

Show the children the other slide again and ask which they like best and why.

When they have all had a chance to express their views, tell them there is one thing that the two landscapes have in common. Have them all look out the window or (if that is not possible) to the farthest point in the room. Ask them which things are clearer, those very far away or those up close. When they have reported their observations, have them look again at the two landscapes and point out that things in the background look just as clear as those in the background. See if you can get them to notice that Cézanne uses light and color to accomplish this while Rousseau uses very sharply defined shapes. Both are ways that the painters have changed what we would see if we were looking at the same landscapes that they painted. Tell the children that they should also feel free to change things when they draw and paint so that all the colors and lines please them, whether they are making a scene, a face, or a design.


First Grade - Visual Art - Lesson 8

Suggested Book

Sellier, Marie. Cézanne from A to Z. (translated from the French by Claudia Zoe Bedrick). New York: Peter Bedrick Books, 1996. This small book has wonderful reproductions of a great many of Cezanne's paintings, photographs and drawings from his life as well. It can be enjoyed by children of all ages and has a small amount of text that could be read aloud to first graders. It gives some biographical information about the painter as he was growing up that would be interesting to young children, as well as showing many of his paintings.