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 - Overview

The study of art in First Grade should include doing as well as seeing. Although we have written approximately four formal lessons for visual arts each month, we provide ample opportunities for drawing, cutting, pasting, and similar projects in combination with lessons in other subjects.

In writing the formal lessons, we follow the sequence recommended by the Core Knowledge Foundation. For example, our lessons for the month of September are designed to introduce First Grade children to an awareness of primary colors and secondary colors, plus a review of warm and cool colors which they first identify in Kindergarten. The visual arts lessons may be taught on successive days or on several days far apart from each other. However, the order of the lessons is important throughout the year. The lessons are sequential, and build upon one another.

Since we cannot presume that any of our schools has a ready collection of good reproductions, we have written the lessons based on a group of art works owned by either the Walters Art Gallery or the Baltimore Museum of Art. We are grateful that each of our participating schools has slides of the particular artworks as a donation from the two museums. It is our hope that the children will be stimulated to want to see the original works of art they have been studying. This might take the form of a class trip, or it could be done within the family or with friends over weekends or vacation times. In this way, the lessons have been created specifically with the children of Baltimore City in mind.

You will find that the visual arts lessons often incorporate information that informs American or World Civilization. For example, in December the World Civilization section of the Core Knowledge sequence concentrates on World Relgions, introducing First Graders to some basic historical information about Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. For that month, several of the visual arts lessons are built around religious art works from the collection of the Walters Art Gallery, and teachers can devote as much time as is available to the subject. In this way we think the arts can cut through time limitations built into a rigorous schedule of skillbuilding.


First Grade - Visual Arts - Lesson 1 - Color


Review warm and cool colors.


Slide of Henri Matisse, Interior, Flowers, Parakeets (1924)

Slide of Mary Cassatt, L'Enfante a la Robe Bleue (1902)

Colored tissue paper of different colors, a half of large sheet for each child (for Activity)

Suggested Books

Massey, Sue J. And Diane W. Darst. Learning to Look. A Complette Art History & Appreciation Program for Grades K-8. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1992. This book is completely consonant with the Core Knowledge Sequence and can be used to supplement any of the lessons we write. It is expensive, partially because it contains a complete set of slides to illustrate the lessons and has a spiral binding, which makes it easy to use in the classroom.

The following books are particularly good for supplementing lesssons about color, and are available at the Enoch Pratt library and branches.

MacAgy, Douglas and Elizabeth. Going for a walk with a line. New York: Doubleday, 1959.

O'Neill, Mary. Hailstones and Halibut Bones. (newly illustrated by John Wallner) NY: Doubleday, 1989.

Spinelli, Eileen. If You Want to Find Golden. Morton Grove, IL: Albert Whitman & Co., 1993.

Westray, Kathleen. A Color Sampler. New York: Ticknor & Fields, 1993.

Yenawine, Philip. Colors. New York: Museum of Modern Art/Delacorte, 1991.


The children learn about warm and cool colors in kindergarten. Ask if anyone remembers which are the warm colors (reds, oranges, yellows) and which are cool (blues, greens, purples).

Ask questions about where in nature the children see these colors (green trees, blue lake, red burning charcoal in a barbecue). To reinforce the ideas of warm and cool colors ask the children what they can think of that feels warm (the sun, fire, the glowing embers that you see after the barbecue burns down). Then ask what colors are contained in sun, fire, glowing embers (reds, oranges, yellows).

Next, ask if they can think of things that feel cool (a lake or swimming pool, a pasture for animals, the sky at twilight). Then ask what colors predominate in the water of a lake or swimming pool, a pasture, and the sky as evening falls (blues, greens, purples).

Ask the children which set of colors, warm or cool, they think would go with feelings of anger (warm, especially red). Which set goes with feelings of calm, peacefulness? (cool, especially blue and green) Ask them which colors they have in their house, on the walls of their bedrooms, which colors they prefer and why. Tell the children that painters and other visual artists think about these things when they create their work, that in a painting warm colors seem to come closer and cool colors seem to recede more into the background. (If the students need help with the word recede, have them picture to themselves a man with a receding hairline.)


First Grade - Visual Arts - Lesson 1 - Color


Show the children the slide of Interior, Flowers, Parakeets. Tell them it was painted at the beginning of our century by a Frenchman named Henri Matisse. Ask what country they think he came from (France) and locate it on the classroom map or globe for them. Ask which continent France belongs to (Europe) and point that out as well.

Ask whether they would like to live in the room they see in the painting. Why or why not? Try to get responses from all the children. Then ask: What color do you think stands out more than any other in this painting? (red) How many shades of red can you see? (at least 4 or 5 ) (Make sure that everyone understands the term shade, and illustrate by showing various skin or clothing shades of the same color.) Ask them whether the reds in the Matisse painting make the room seem cool, calm, and restful or warm, busy, and energetic.

Now ask the children whether Matisse used warm or cool colors for this painting or whether he used both (almost entirely warm: red, gold, golden brown; a bits of pale blue on walls that seem to recede). Briefly repeat some of the characteristics of warm and cool colors and how they make the children feel about the room in this painting.

Next show the children the slide of Cassatt's portrait of the little girl. Have them guess what the term portrait means and point out that nowadays we all take photographs of people, but that for hundreds and hundreds of years only artists made portraits of people so that others could see what the person looked like. Tell them this portrait was made by an American woman nearly one hundred years ago and that in this case she didn't use paint but a special kind of chalklike crayons made of ground color pigments (mixed with water and a binding medium) that we call pastels. Ask how they could tell that it was done long ago if you hadn't told them (the hat and dress of the little girl). Tell them that although Mary Cassatt was an American, she lived for many years in the same country as Matisse. Ask who remembers the name of that country. Ask them which colors they see in this portrait (blue, green, white) and how the colors make them feel. Ask the children what they would guess about whether the child is quiet and especially well behaved or energetic and active. Did the painter choose warm or cool colors to portray this little girl?

Review once more the names of the warm and cool colors.


Make color bouquets.


Distribute pieces of colored tissue to the children, allowing each one to choose from the colors available. Hold the sheet by the center and twist to make a stem, fanning out the rest to look like a tissue flower. Have the students do the same. Then ask all with warm colors to come forward, then all with cool colors to come forward in order to make two bouquets. Finally, let them mix the colors and observe the different effects of the various mixtures.


First Grade - Visual Arts - Lesson 2 - Color


Introduce the term primary colors and identify them as red, yellow, and blue.


Red, blue, and yellow food coloring; 3 or 4 large glass containers (jars, vases)

Piece of drawing paper plus red, yellow, and blue crayons per child for Activity


Ask if anyone remembers what kinds of colors we talked about in the last art lesson (warm and cool colors). Review what the colors are and have the children point to instances of them in the classroom. Then tell the children that today we will talk about three colors that are called primary colors. Ask if anyone knows or could guess what the word primary means. Remind them about the word primary in primary school and what that means (the first school). Tell them that there are other words that belong to the same family and sound a bit like primary. Have them think of primer (the first book), the primer coat that you use when you paint a room or house (the first coat of paint), and even a prima ballerina which refers to the first and most important female dancer in a whole dance troupe.

Say: The primary colors are the first colors, the most basic colors that cannot be made by mixing any other colors together. Those colors are red, yellow, and blue. Then have the children repeat after you:

The primary colors are red, yellow, and blue. Signal. Repeat.

The primary colors are _____________ Signal. (red, yellow, blue)

Red is a primary color.

What is red? Signal. (Red is a primary color.)

Yellow is a primary color.

What is yellow? Signal. (Yellow is a primary color.)

Blue is a primary color.

What is blue? Signal. (Blue is a primary color.)

Repeat until firm.

Next, say: Let's see what other colors we can make using these primary colors, red, yellow, and blue.


Take the glass container filled with water. Using the eyedropper, put in a few drops of blue and have students take a good look at the color. Slowly add a few drop of yellow, and have them watch to see the color green result. In the second container put a few drops of red; add a few drops of yellow to produce orange. Do the same to produce purple, and finally produce brown.

Discuss the various colors and suggest that the children might want to do this at home with their families in the kitchen, and they can experiment to see how the shade of green would vary, for example, with the amount of yellow they add to the blue.

Have the children repeat after you:

The secondary colors are orange, green and purple. Signal. Repeat.


First Grade - Visual Arts - Lesson 2 - Color

The secondary colors are ______________ Signal. (orange, green, purple)

Orange is a secondary color.

What is orange? Signal. (Orange is a secondary color.)

Green is a secondary color.

What is green? Signal. (Green is a secondary color.)

Purple is a secondary color.

What is purple? Signal. (Purple is a secondary color.)

Repeat until firm.


Draw and color a tree.


Have the children draw trees and color them. Tell them to think about the colors they will need. Remind them that, since it is September, they have probably noticed that the leaves on some trees have turned yellow, some red, and some brown. Some may still be green. Tell them they have all the colors they need to produce those colors, to think about what they have just learned about mixing primary colors to produce other colors, and then to go ahead and color their trees.

Have the children observe one another's crayoned trees, and discuss the colors they were able to produce using only the three primary colors.


First Grade - Visual Arts - Lesson 3 - Color


Review warm and cool colors.

Apply color sense to an art project.


Lion and penguin worksheets

Tissue paper

Glue, scissors

Teacher Note

Be sure to do this activity yourself before doing the activity with your children, so that you have a sample of each animal for the children to view.


Ask: On which continent would you find a lion? Because most of Africa is close to the equator, would the climate there be warm or cold? On which continent would you find a penguin? Antarctica is at the South Pole and very far away from the equator. Is the climate warm or cold on the continent of Antarctica?

Tell the students they are going to use tissue paper in warm and cool colors to decorate pictures of lions and penguins. If you get a lion you will decorate with tissue paper in warm colors. Ask: Can someone name a warm color? (red, yellow, or orange) If you get a penguin you will decorate with tissue paper in cool colors. Ask: Can someone name a cool color? (blue, green, and purple)

Hand out the materials. Tell the children they are going to glue small squares of tissue paper within the outline in the center of the animal. Have the children start by tearing the tissue paper (either warm colors or cool colors). Next, have them spread glue on the paper inside the outline in the center of the picture and place their pieces of tissue paper on the glue to create a stained glass effect.


First Grade - Visual Arts - Lesson 4 - Color

(adapted from a STARS Science lesson)


Reinforce the concepts of primary and secondary colors.

Have the children observe, then chart the results of their observations.

Materials for the teacher

3 containers of brightly colored water (yellow, red, blue); 3 eye droppers

Transparency; overhead projector

Large Data Chart, modeled on Student Data Sheet attached

Paper towels; white and lined paper; sponge

Materials for each student

1 4" x 5" piece of clear acetate transparency; 3 eye droppers labeled yellow, red, blue

2-3 pieces of white paper; 2-3 toothpicks; 1 copy of Data Sheet #1, attached

4 small plastic cups; 2-3 white paper towels; crayons

For each group: 1 "dumper" (bottom of half-gallon milk carton); tray to hold dumper and colors


Ask if anyone remembers what the three primary colors are and what makes them primary colors (red, yellow, and blue; primary, the first and most basic). Remind them of the demonstration that you did in the glass containers of water (Lesson 2) and ask what colors resulted (secondary colors: green, orange, purple).

Ask students to watch carefully as you place a transparency on the overhead projector. Place a drop of blue water on the transparency. Then, using a different dropper, place a drop of yellow water very close to the blue water. Have students identify the colors. Ask what they think would happen if you mixed the colors (produce green) and ask them to explain the reasoning behind their guesses. Use a toothpick to mix the colors. Ask the students to identify the new color.

Demonstrate on the large chart how to use crayons to record the results of the mixing. Explain the meaning of the + and = signs.

Student Procedure

Give out supplies (excepting colored water) and review procedures. Emphasize that it is important to use only one drop of colored water each time and that droppers for each color must be kept separate. Have students review the procedure, then distribute colored water. Have each student place an acetate sheet on top of the white paper, select a color, and place a drop of it on the transparency. Then have the student add another drop and mix the two with a toothpick. Have students use data sheets and crayons to record the results of mixing the colors. Have the students experiment in the same way with two more colors until six combinations have been tried. Be sure they have recorded their results on their data sheets.

Have the children use white paper towels to soak up the colors on their acetates, observing what happens as the liquid moves into the towel.

Finally, tell them that when painters like Matisse created their paintings, they worked


First Grade - Visual Arts - Lesson 4 - Color

with a large palette (piece of wood, curved to fit the hand--sketch shape on board) or a piece of wood or glass on which they mixed individual colors with a spatula (sketch shape on board and differentiate from cooking spatula) or brush. Tell them that when colors are further mixed to produce tiny changes and differences, those tiny differences in color are called shades. Ask whether they remember all the different shades of red they saw in the Matisse painting (Lesson 1) of the room with all the wonderful designs on the rugs, tablecloth, and screen. You might show the painting again so they can take another good look.