Note for the Teacher
This lesson should not be taught before the students have finished American Civilization Lessons 17 and 18, which deal with Thomas Jefferson. You may want to review Art Lessons 26, 27, and 32 from Second Grade. They deal with the architecture of Ancient Greece (26 and 27) and then a contrasted expression of architecture in Japan (32).
Observe architectural features of Monticello.
Recall ideals of American democracy and relate to classical forms.
Classroom-size map of the United States
Early sketch by Jefferson for Monticello, reproduced below
Photograph of Parthenon from any illustrated book about Ancient Greece
Photographs of Monticello, see Suggested Books below
*Fisher, Leonard Everett. Monticello. New York: Holiday House, 1988.
This is truly a biography not of Jefferson, but of his architectural dream, Monticello. It includes black and white photographs of Monticello in various states of decay before restoration, classical architectural buildings that influenced its design, and intriguing shots of unique features of its interior that Jefferson invented.
Hargrove, Jim. Thomas Jefferson. Chicago: Children's Press, 1986.
Part of Children's Press "Encyclopedia of Presidents" series, this has a nice reproduction of a pencil drawing of the main house at Monticello on p. 34 and fine, large photographs of present-day Monticello and the rotunda Jefferson designed for the University of Virginia on pp. 80 and 84, respectively.
Komroff, Manuel. Thomas Jefferson. Lakeville, CT: Grey Castle Press, 1991.
An informative chapter on Monticello begins on p. 80, with a photograph of Jefferson's home as it appears today. On p. 141 is a photograph of the rotunda of the University of Virginia together with Jefferson's design for it, modeled after the Roman Pantheon.
Meltzer, Milton. Thomas Jefferson: The Revolutionary Aristocrat. New York: Franklin Watts, 1991.
A thorough biography of Jefferson, may be difficult reading for fourth graders. A black- and white photograph of the facade of Monticello is reproduced on p. 241. Jefferson's earliest sketch for Monticello and an elevation drawing for it appear on p. 45.
Moscow, Henry. Thomas Jefferson and His World. New York: American Heritage, 1960.
The editors of American Heritage magazine produced this volume as part of its admirable American Heritage Junior Library. A color photograph of the facade of Jefferson's Monticello appears as a two-page front end sheet. Examples of architectural drawings by Jefferson abound, and there is a reproduction of a watercolor of a nearly completed Monticello painted by a Mrs. William Thornton in 1804.
Richards, Norman. The Story of Monticello. Chicago: Children's Press, 1970.
The narrative of Jefferson's land, buildings, and the inventions and dreams that filled it, with simple but effective drawings by Chuck Mitchell.
Hughes, Robert. American Visions: The Epic History of Art in America. New York: Knopf, 1997.
Hughes, who is Australian by birth, has a wonderful eye and ear for the whole sweep of American culture as it produced its characteristic art works throughout our history. The second chapter, entitled "The Republic of Virtue," is especially pertinent for teachers of the Fourth Grade history and art lessons for October, November, and December.
Materials useful for teaching lessons on the architecture of Monticello are available from:
Monticello Education Department
P.O. Box 316
Charlottesville, VA 22902
*The Fisher book is by far the most valuable for the students to see for this lesson. Its architectural drawings may be the very first they see. The book also includes a photograph of an actual building by Palladio and reproduces some of his plans. The views of Monticello clearly show details that are hard to describe and to visualize without seeing a photograph or the actual building from that perspective, such as the way the two service wings are built below the main building into the side of the hill and the terraces that cover them.
Tell the students that they are going to look at an example of a three-dimensional art form today. Ask them: What forms of art does that exclude? What forms of art will we not be looking at today? (portraits, paintings, landscapes, accept any two-dimensional form as an answer)
What forms of three-dimensional art have you looked at? (sculpture, architecture)
And what elements do sculpture and architecture have that two-dimensional forms do not have? (mass, can walk around them, can see all sides, accept any thoughtful answer)
What would you say architecture has that sculpture does not have? (can go inside, has a useful function, can protect people from elements, shelter; again, accept any thoughtful answer)
Say to the class: It sounds as though architecture is a very special art form that combines something that is beautiful with something that is useful. Tell them that Thomas Jefferson, our third president, was fascinated by architecture and thought it the ideal form of art for the new American democracy. He was worried that forms of art such as painting and sculpture depended on the patronage of a special and privileged class of wealthy people -- sometimes even kings and queens -- which he thought would be very harmful to the ideals of this country. When Jefferson was still a young man and newly married, he began drawing detailed plans for a beautiful home on a very large piece of land he had inherited in the Blue Ridge Mountains in the state of Virginia. (Have a student come and find Virginia on a U.S. map and help the student to locate the Charlottesville area and the mountain ranges that stretch diagonally from north to south through that part of Virginia.)
Tell the students that Jefferson called his home Monticello, which is an Italian word that means "ittle mountain." He named it that, because he chose a spot right at the top of a small mountain, flattened out a space at the top, and that's where he put his house. Say to the students: Jefferson began to live in one tiny part of the house when he was first married, and he had an idea that he would design the house, have it built, and then when he retired from public life he could enjoy the quiet, write, think, work on his inventions, and grow all kinds of fruits and vegetables. The only problem is that Jefferson had such a long and demanding life serving the United States that it took most of his lifetime to complete Monticello. By looking at one of Jefferson's early drawings for Monticello and a photograph of the completed building of Monticello, you will see how many different architectural ideas and influences went into Jefferson's home.
Show the class an early architectural drawing that Jefferson did for Monticello, then show them one of the Parthenon in Ancient Greece. Ask the students what they see that is similar in the two (columns, triangular form at roof, pediment supported by columns). Remind the students that one of the most important ideals of Greek art was symmetry. Ask the students: Where do you see examples of symmetry in the Pantheon and in Jefferson's drawing of Monticello? (same number of windows on each side upstairs and downstairs, same number of columns on each side, door exactly centered). Ask the students what they notice about the placement of the Parthenon that reminds them of Monticello (on top of a hill). Tell the students that Jefferson actually was inspired to design Monticello the way they see it in the drawing when he saw an Ancient Roman temple in the south of France while he was serving as Minister to France in 1787. It is not surprising that the design also resembles the Greek Parthenon, because the Ancient Romans were inspired by the art and ideals of Ancient Greece.
Next show the class a photograph of the completed (and restored) Monticello (preferably the West facade, which shows the dome most clearly). Ask: What big differences do you see between this and the Greek Parthenon? (dome, only one story of columns, house looks as though it is only one full story high) Tell the students that Jefferson's idea for the dome came from a picture he had seen of the Roman Pantheon, which was a great domed public building in Ancient Rome. Ask them: What is still there that you saw in the Pantheon? (columns, symmetry, on top of a hill)
Tell the students that when Jefferson traveled out of the big city of Paris and into the open countryside of France, he realized how buildings in a big city needed to be designed with space that could be increased vertically by adding more floors, because there were so many people living in a limited area. What idea in modern architecture does this remind you of? (skyscrapers, tall apartment houses in big cities) In the country, buildings could be designed to spread out more, horizontally. In the case of Monticello this meant that on the first floor, where all the public rooms are -- where Jefferson entertained his guests, where he ate meals and served dinners to guests and had a big library -- the rooms were about 18 feet high, and lots and lots of light came in through the tall windows. Show the students that even in the dome there are windows, so that light comes in there too.
Tell the students that we now know that Jefferson was not only the author of the Declaration of Independence, a vice president, president, and Secretary of State for the United States, and a minister to France for the United States, but also the very first native-born architect in this country. We know that he designed at least seven houses, two courthouses, a state capitol, a church, and a university. Of all the buildings he was responsible for, Jefferson was most proud of his ideas and designs for the buildings of the University of Virginia, which you can visit in Charlottesville. (Point it out on the map of the United States.) You will see that Jefferson's design for the rotunda and main buildings of the University of Virginia are very much like Monticello -- each has a dome and lots of light and columns in buildings very much spread out over the land, so students can appreciate the trees and shape of the landscape as well as the shapes of the buildings.
Fourth Grade - Visual Arts - Lesson 13 - White House & Capitol Building
Note for the Teacher
This and the next art lesson follow the American History Core curriculum for December.
Observe the architecture of the Capitol and the house of the president.
Consider the location and design of Washington, D.C.
Complete a written activity.
Classroom-size map of the U.S.
Photographs of the Capitol and the White House, see Suggested Books below
Materials for activity
Fisher, Leonard Everett. The White House. New York: Holiday House, 1989.
Filled with archival photographs of The White House at different periods and anecdotes about presidential families living in it, this is an engaging historical account for students.
Munro, Roxie. The Inside-Outside Book of Washington, D.C. New York: Dutton/Penguin, 1987.
Except for one final page of information about each of the buildings that is pictured, this book is entirely composed of Munro's detailed paintings of public buildings from all sorts of interesting perspectives -- from above, from inside as well as outside -- and gives an excellent sense of the architecture of the public buildings in our capital.
Prolman, Marilyn. The Story of the Capitol. Chicago: Children's Press, 1969.
A good history of the Capitol and of the planning of the capital city. Drawings by Bob O'Malley are definitely less important than the text, which is not too difficult for fourth graders to read on their own.
Hilton, Suzanne. A Capital Capital City: 1790-1814. New York: Atheneum, 1992.
Much more thorough than most books for young people about D.C., this combines a lively style of writing with a solid historical approach. The text is too difficult for fourth- grade readers, but they would enjoy hearing portions of it read aloud.
Ask the class the name of the capital of the United States (Washington D.C. -- have someone show it on the map); then ask the name of the location of the first two temporary capitals (New York City and Philadelphia -- have someone find them on the map). Ask the students: Why do you think no one considered making Chicago or San Francisco the capital city? (Accept any answer that indicates knowledge that U.S. lands and population were still in the East at the time.) Tell the students that many states wanted the capital to be located in a city in their home state, but it was decided to build the capital city about halfway between Massachusetts and Georgia in an area that had never been made a city before. Say to them: This was the very first city in the world to be created specifically as a national capital.
Tell the students that all of this happened during the time that Thomas Jefferson was Secretary of State under President George Washington. Ask them: What did you learn about Jefferson in the last lesson that would make him eager to see a capital built for the United States of America? What was the art form he thought was best encouraged for our American democracy? (architecture) Tell them that all the while Jefferson was in France, serving as Minister from the new United States of America, he collected plans of public buildings and plans for large cities with public spaces, so he had lots of ideas for the new American capital, which was named for our first president.
Tell the students that Washington D.C. started out as a ten-mile square of swampy land along the Potomac River. The man Washington chose to plan the city was from France and had volunteered to serve with Washington during the Revolutionary War. His name was Pierre Charles L'Enfant. He was an engineer, and his father had served as a court painter to the French king, Louis XIV, at Versailles, the luxurious palace in Paris that housed the king and queen. You can imagine that L'Enfant may have had all kinds of ideas about building a home for the President of the United States that looked more like a palace than a house, and he had to be convinced to modify his plans. Jefferson in particular gave all kinds of advice to L'Enfant, showed him plans he had collected in Europe, and suggested that the capital city have very wide, straight avenues lined with trees and that all the streets be laid out at right angles to one another. To these plans, L'Enfant added the idea of incorporating into the design for the capital city a series of circles that would radiate out along the route between the two most important buildings in the capital, which were to be the Capitol building and the president's house.
L'Enfant took so long coming up with a plan and a map for the capital city that eventually Washington fired him. The job of surveying the lots in the district had to be done in order to sell them to raise the money for building the public buildings. That job fell to Andrew Ellicott, who was assisted by a free black man named Benjamin Banneker, who was a wonderful mathematician and astronomer. By the time all of this was completed, there were still no plans for the great house of the president and the house where Congress was to meet.
Eventually, Jefferson convinced President Washington to hold a contest for the design of the house of the president, and he himself entered, along with eight others, and he signed his plan as Abraham Laws. Jefferson's plan did not win, but a man from South Carolina named James Hoban did, and what we know now as the White House was for a long time the largest, most elegant house in the country. It was built with bricks that were dug from the clay soil in the area and fired in a brickworks that was set up right at the building site to fire bricks for all the public buildings. The work was done primarily by African American slaves plus a few white apprentices. Stone for facing the brick was dug further along the Potomac, again by African American slaves. When winter came, the natural moisture in the stone froze and cracked the stone. In order to prevent this, the stone had to be sealed with a special whitewash, which is how the president's house acquired the name of the "white house." (Show the students a photograph of the White House and have them identify some of the architectural features and relate it to Greek and Roman buildings they have seen.)
The president's house has been changed, improved, and enlarged time and time again throughout our history. Usually this was for the sake of comfort -- when the first president to live there (John Adams) moved in, there were neither indoor bathrooms nor running water -- or for more space or to improve a roof that perpetually leaked. During the War of 1812, however, the president's house was burned by the British troops (late in the summer of 1814), and the original architect and builder, James Hoban, had to begin rebuilding it in March of 1815.
Next, show the students a photograph of the Capitol. Ask them: What geometric shape do you see on the Capitol building that makes it look so different from the president's house? (dome) Where else in American architecture of the time have we seen a dome? (Jefferson's Monticello, The rotunda of the University of Virginia) Ask the students whose house the Capitol is (Senate, Representatives, Congress). Tell them that it too was designed on the basis of a contest, advertised in the newspaper, offering $500. to the winning design. Jefferson again submitted a plan under a false name, but no one was chosen. Finally, a man named Thornton was asked to submit a plan, and it was Thornton who designed the building with two wings united under a central dome. Not many people had heard of Thornton as a designer or architect, because he was a doctor. He had many problems in the building of the Capitol, and it took from 1793 to 1800 simply to complete one wing of the building. Like the White House, many many changes have been made to the Capitol over the years, and, like the White House, it too was burned by the British during the War of 1812 and had to be rebuilt. It was during the rebuilding that the central dome or Rotunda was finally built. The Supreme Court and the Library of Congress were originally housed in the Capitol. It was after the fire, which destroyed all of the books in the Library of Congress, that Jefferson offered to sell his own great collection to form the core of a new Library of Congress.
During the Civil War, the Capitol was used at first as a barracks for the Union troops, then as an emergency hospital. At the end of the Civil War the great dome was finally completed, with both an inner and an outer shell of cast iron. Finally, a statue of a woman 19 and a half feet tall was placed on the very top of the dome. She has a sword in her right hand, a wreath in her left hand and is named "Armed Liberty." Even today, the Capitol building continues to grow and change as the country does, and it has its own architect who reviews and then designs all of the changes that the Congress votes to make.
Divide the class into groups of 5 or 6 students each with the assignment of composing an advertisement for a newspaper that announces a contest (competition) for designing a public building. It might be the house of the president, the building for its legislature, its high court, or even its main library. Things the students might want to include would be recommendations for parks, trees, landscaping, access to public transportation, what sculpture might decorate such a building. Have one person in each group act as scribe to take down the text of the advertisement.
Fourth Grade - Visual Arts - Lesson 14 - The Great Seal & The Statue of Justice
Identify The Great Seal of the United States.
Identify the way in which a seal marks wax, clay, or pieces of paper and authenticates them.
Identify and interpret the images on The Great Seal.
Recall the term symbol and its meaning.
Identify and interpret symbols included in Statue of Justice (optional).
Create booklet about the Great Seal of the United States (optional).
Dollar bills, 1 per group
Magnifying lenses, at least 1 per group
Questionnaire about the Great Seal of the United States, attached
Reproduction of any one form of Statue of Justice (optional), see Note to Teacher below
Paper, writing tools, and heavy paper for booklet cover (optional)
Note for the Teacher
The Statue of Justice is based on the image of Themis, the Greek goddess of justice. As produced in various pieces of sculpture, she may or may not be blindfolded, usually holds a sword, and often holds a pair of balance scales as well. Many different law firms, public buildings of law and justice, as well as commercial organizations have adapted this image to their purposes. It is extremely difficult to find one image in books about Washington D.C., although it seems clear that the one referred to in the Core Knowledge sequence was originally a bas relief sculpture for the Supreme Court when it was first housed in the Capitol building. Any reproductions that contain the basic elements would be suitable for illustrating this portion of today's lesson.
Start the lesson by asking the class what is pictured on the front of a dollar bill (bust of George Washington). Ask: What is pictured on the back? (2 sides of the Great Seal of the United States, the chances are slim the students will know this) Have the students divide into a few groups and give each group a dollar bill and a magnifying lens.
Give each group one of the Questionnaires and have them work together to answer all of the questions. When they have finished, write the numbers from 1 to 10 on the board and write the answers the students have given you, discussing them as you go. Tell them that symbols represent visually ideas and ideals that often have complicated meanings. They rarely mean just one single thing. (Review the symbols they studied in World Religions, in First and Second Grades. Also review the American flag as a symbol.)
During the course of the class discussion, be sure to ask the students to consider each of the following:
Why is the number 13 shown so often in the Great Seal?
What do you think the symbolic meaning of the olive branch with 13 olives is?
What is the meaning of the arrows?
What do you think of when you see a pyramid?
What is the significance of 1776?
Finally, ask them why they think the inscriptions are written in Latin
(Ancient Rome as a great republic, and as a civilization that contributed
to systems of law, accept any thoughtful ideas).
Tell the students the meanings of the three Latin inscriptions (out of many, one on the banner on the front; He has favored our undertakings and A new order for the ages on the back) in terms of the ideals of the founding fathers of our country. Tell the students that it was not easy to agree upon the design for the Great Seal of the United States. Ask them whether they know what the purpose of a seal is (to make documents legal -- tell them about the use of seals in the Middle Ages, when dies were specially cut for an individual that could be pressed into sealing wax, which would mean that the person receiving the letter knew that it was genuinely from the person who sent it and if the seal had been broken, they knew the letter had been tampered with; discuss its function on United States currency and official documents, such as treaties and bills passed by Congress) Tell them that a committee of the Continental Congress was chosen on July 4, 1776 to create the design for the Great Seal, but it took nearly 6 years (June 20, 1782) for a design to be accepted. The Secretary of State was named keeper of the seal in 1789, and the metal die for the Great Seal can be seen, in a special case made out of mahogany, in the exhibition hall of the Department of State in Washington, D.C.
Ask the students: What have you made in art this year that functions the same way as a seal? (mark of a silversmith, printer's mark, person's initials) Review with them the process they used to make these and how the design for the Great Seal had to be created in reverse in order for it to print as they see it.
If there is time and you have access to one or another reproduction of the Statue of Justice, guide the students through a similar process of identifying the images of a woman dressed in Greek toga, the fact that she is based on the Greek goddess of justice whose name is Themis, identifying the scales of justice, what the weighing of things has to do with the law and with justice, discussing the meaning of the blindfold if it is there ("blind justice"). Finally, ask the students to tell you what other great symbolic female figure we have in the United States in a very public place (Statue of Liberty, woman with a sword on top of the Capitol building) and what they remember about her appearance and the symbolic meaning of the images they can recall.
Allow the students to choose either the Great Seal, the Statue of Justice, or the Statue of Liberty for the subject of a booklet. Tell them they are to highlight each aspect of their subject, one at a time, make a drawing of it, and write an explanation of its meaning.
For example, if a student has chosen the Great Seal, there would be a picture of an eagle, how it functions in the seal and the attributes we associate with the eagle such as its fierceness, its keen sight, etc. Next might be a drawing of the shield with an explanation of the number of stripes, etc. A heavy piece of 11 x 17 paper could be used enfold and cover the pages of the booklet and the name written in fancy or decorated letters with the student's "printer's mark stamped in the lower right hand corner.
The Great Seal of the United States
1. What bird do you see?
2. How many stripes are on the shield?
3. What is in the bird's right claw? How many?
4. What is in the bird's left claw? How many?
5. How many stars are in the "sunburst" over the bird's head?
6. What language is written on the banner?
7. What is the incomplete geometric shape?
8. How many rows of stones are there?
9. What language is written at the very top and bottom?
10. Express the Roman numeral as an Arabic number.
Fourth Grade - Visual Arts - Lesson 15 - Winter Holiday Card
Create a holiday card appropriate to the season.
Use a pine cone to print a wreath.
Recall printing techniques from earlier lessons.
Recall Vikings from Third Grade literature and history lessons.
Construction paper, white and colored, 1 piece per student; blank scrap paper, 1 per student
Thick tempera or printer's ink in green or white; extra green for practice and experiment
Acorn caps, halved walnut or hickory nut shells, dried milkweed pods, optional for printing
decorations on wreath
Brushes and tempera paint in white or red
Johnson, Linda Carlson. Our National Symbols. Brookfield, CT: The Millbrook Press, 1992.
This book provides an excellent review of the symbols the students discussed in the last lesson and provides a link to thinking about the use of symbols for artistic designs and greeting cards, such as they are asked to do in today's lesson. The opening chapter provides an unusually clear and rich discussion of symbols. The chapter titled "Symbols of a New Nation" discusses the symbols the students studied in the last lesson and adds to their thinking about the eagle and reproduces an early, rejected design for the Great Seal.
Tell the students that they are going to make winter greeting cards for sending to friends and family. Ask them what symbols they think of in December that might go on greeting cards (stars, crosses, crèches, menorahs, accept all answers and invite the students to explain to the class where they think the symbols come from or what they signify).
When they have all had a chance to respond, tell them that one of the oldest symbols for winter holiday time is the evergreen. Tell them that long before people in northern Europe were converted to Christianity, they used evergreen trees and boughs as a symbol that promised that green would return when the winter season passed. Say: For those people, such as the Vikings and Norsemen (recall from Third Grade), who knew very little at the time about seasons and scientific reasons for the dying and rebirth of plants and deciduous trees, it seemed mysterious and even magical that trees would seem to die in the winter, and new leaves appear each spring. They observed the days growing shorter and dimmer as winter approached, and so they used branches of evergreens to remind themselves of the promise of springtime.
Ask the students: What do we do with evergreens in winter that is related to this very ancient practice? (Christmas trees, wreaths to hang on doors, hang mistletoe in doorways) Tell the students that they are going to create wreaths on their greeting cards, using pine cones to print and create the circular shapes. Give them a choice of either making a green wreath on white paper with red bow or a snowy, white wreath on colored paper with a bow of a different color.
Give each student a large piece of white scrap paper and say to them: Before you make the actual card, you will first experiment printing a wreath with an inked pine cone. Remind the students of other printing they have done -- their initials, for example -- and point out that they do not need to be concerned with reversals in this case. They are simply to ink the cones and press firmly, with a slight rolling motion to make each segment of the circular wreath. Encourage them to experiment as they go and to enjoy the fact that each printing of the pine cone may look just slightly different than the last, which is true of all prints -- the relative amounts of white and colored areas can always vary. It just makes the print more interesting.
To make the actual card, begin by folding a clean piece of construction paper in half.
This will give a total of four sides or "pages."
The art work -- the print from the cone -- should go on page 1. It will have to be smaller than the wreath done on scrap paper, and this can be accomplished by inking just the top, thinner part of the cone to form portions of the wreath. Caps of acorns, halves of nut shells, and/or dried milkweed pods can be inked and used to print decorations on the wreath and a bow painted at the top. A short message, with the student's signature, should be written on page 3; if the message is a long one, it can be begun on page 2, continue on 3, and finish on 4. If the students still have the initials they printed in November, they may want to print them in a corner of the card underneath the wreath. If those initials are too large, the student can simply write in his or her initials in one of the lower corners.
Fisher, Leonard Everett. Monticello. New York: Holiday House, 1988. (0-8234-0688-1)
Fisher, Leonard Everett. The White House. New York: Holiday House, 1989 (0-8234-0774-8)
Hargrove, Jim. Thomas Jefferson. Chicago: Children's Press, 1986. (0-516-01385-8)
Hilton, Suzanne. A Capital Capital City. New York: Atheneum, 1992. (0-689-31641-0)
Komroff, Manuel. Thomas Jefferson. Lakeville, CT: Grey Castle Press, 1991. (1-55905-083-7)
Meltzer, Milton. Thomas Jefferson: The Revolutionary Aristocrat. New York: Franklin Watts, 1991. (0-531-11069-9)
Moscow, Henry. Thomas Jefferson and His World. New York: American Heritage, 1960.
Munro, Roxie. The Inside-Outside Book of Washington, D.C. New York: Dutton/Penguin, 1987.(0-14-054940-4)
Prolman, Marilyn. The Story of the Capitol. Chicago: Children's Press, 1969.
Richards, Norman. The Story of Monticello. Chicago: Children's Press, 1970.
Paul, Ann Whitford. Eight Hands Round: A Patchwork Alphabet. New York: HarperCollins, 1991. (0-06-024689-8)
________. The Seasons Sewn: A Year in Patchwork. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1996. (0-15-276918-8)
Robins, Deri. Step-By-Step Making Prints. New York: Kingfisher Books, 1993. (1-85697-925-3)
Turner, Robyn Montana. Faith Ringgold. Boston: Little, Brown, 1993. (0-316-85652-5)