Fifth Grade - Visual Arts - Overview

The Visual Arts lessons for K-2 were written in connection with an ongoing set of slides, generously contributed by the Baltimore Museum of Art and The Walters Art Gallery for the use of our pilot schools. This means that, although we followed the Core Knowledge Curriculum insofar as the topics we covered, the particular works of art the children viewed were not always the same as those named in the Core curriculum. As often as possible, we presented works of art by the same artists recommended by Core, but we were bound by the limitations of the two collections whose slides we used.

We have decided to change our approach for Third through Fifth Grade art lessons. Ideally, we would like the children to be able to have large color reproductions of the recommended Core artworks hanging on the classroom walls, so they may be compared one with another and appreciated over a longer period of time than is possible with slides. With that goal in mind, the Visual Arts lessons for Grades 3-5 will be written following exactly the particular artworks recommended by the Core Knowledge monthly scope and sequence.

In the Fifth Grade, these recommended artworks often interconnect with History/Geography lessons for the year. This means that after a basic review plus a glimpse at pre-Columbian art during the month of September, the students will beging to study the kind of perspective that developed during the Renaissance in Italy, contrasting painting and sculpture of the period with similar subjects from medieval art. They then look at some representative paintings from the slightly later Renaissance in northern Europe. They will also look at artworks relating to feudal Japan. For the rest of the year, the art lessons will follow the course of the American History curriculum, beginning with the Hudson River school of painters, some landscape painters of the American West, and then artworks relating to the Civil War period in this country.

In addition to giving basic Teacher Background for each artist whose works the students look at, we will suggest books that are useful for teachers and those that are suitable for the age of the students. These will be listed and annotated for individual lessons, and we always check to make sure that they are available in the Enoch Pratt system. Until we have a better solution, you will need to find reproductions in books and periodicals of the art works the students study. We will try to list books and page numbers where colored reproductions can be found. Other useful materials for reproductions are catalogs from exhibitions, auctions, and businesses that sell art prints. These can be found at no cost at all if you look for them and ask friends and colleagues to save them for you. Often you can find old adult art books at tag sales or second hand book stores for very little money whose reproductions of art works are not out of date even though the text and condition of the book may be. These materials can be used again and again in the classroom for their color reproductions of paintings and sculpture.

Two relatively new books highly recommended for a school book budget are:

Beckett, Sister Wendy. The Story of Painting. London & New York: Dorling Kindersley in association with the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1994.

Sister Wendy is known to many for her frequent, short spots on PBS television. Her book is eloquently written and provides excellent background material for anyone teaching art. She deals chronologically with the history of painting in Western Europe and to some extent in America as well. The color reproductions are large and excellent and can be easily shared with the students in the classroom. Side bars tie the art works in with the general history of the period and country of origin.

Massey, Sue J. And Diane W. Darst. Learning to Look. A Complete Art History & Appreciation Program for Grades K-8. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1992.

Fifth Grade - Visual Arts - Overview

This book, written expressly for children and their art teachers, is filled with questions to ask about specific paintings and includes both color reproductions and 48 slides of paintings from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, most of which are part of the Core Knowledge Curriculum.

Fifth Grade - Visual Arts - Lesson 1 - Review of Color

Review elements of art.
Review warm and cool, primary and secondary colors.
Experiment with various shades of a single color.

Chart paper (optional)
White paper for paintings, 1 for each student
Pencils and tempera paints
Saucers or other small containers for mixing shades of paint
Cups of water for washing brushes when changing shades

Note for the Teacher
Material about warm, cool, primary, and secondary colors has been part of the Core visual arts curriculum beginning with Kindergarten, and the study of color was expanded in First through Third Grades. Similarly, the elements of art have been identified in lessons from First through Third Grades. Hopefully, even fourth graders who have not previously followed the Core Knowledge curriculum, will have been introduced to some of this material through other curriculums. If not, you may have to supplement the September lessons, filling in with additional information and examples to illustrate some of the concepts. Since this first lesson is primarily about color, there are many simple books suitable for students to browse through themselves, with texts simple enough that they can read on their own.

Suggested Books
Student Titles
The students will have seen most of these books in earlier grades; here they can be browsed and/or easily read by 5th graders by way of reviewing concepts about color.

Carle, Eric. The Very Hungry Caterpillar. New York: Scholastic, 1969.

________The Tiny Seed. New York: Scholastic, 1970.

Ehlert, Lois. Color Zoo. New York: Harper Hollins, 1989.

Emberly, Edward. Green Says Go. Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1968.

Jonas, Ann. Color Dance. New York: Greenwillow Books, 1989.

O'Neill, Mary. Hailstones and Halibut Bones. New York: Doubleday, 1961.

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

Yenawine, Philip. Colors. New York: Delacorte Press, 1991.

Give the class some information about the kinds of art they will be looking at in the coming months. Tell them: Once we have reviewed the elements of art in the first three lessons, you will find the art lessons supplement the things you are learning in History and Geography this year. First we will do a project inspired by the achievements of the Inca Empire in South America. We will look at developments in painting, sculpture, and architecture during the Italian Renaissance, followed by some Renaissance paintings from northern Europe. Later in the year, when you are studying American History, we will look at artworks from the Hudson River School of painters, then paintings from the American West. Finally, we will spend time looking at the new art of photography plus other artworks from the period of the American Civil War and then some examples of a kind of printing technique called lithography that was popular in the nineteenth century.

Tell the students that today you need their help to make a list of the elements of art--those special terms we use when we look at works of art, whether those are paintings, sculptures, or architecture. Give the students some hints if they need them so that they come up with the elements: color, line, shape, texture, space and light. (They have also been introduced to the concept of mass as it applies to three-dimensional works such as sculpture and architecture. You may want to add that to the list.) Brainstorm with them about each element so that you can jot a few descriptive words for each element on the list (e.g. for texture, the words might be rough, smooth, soft, hard, etc.; for line, horizontal, vertical, curved, wavy, zigzag etc. for shape, circular, square, triangular; etc.) If you prefer to have this posted in the classroom for the first few weeks of the year, the list with the elements and their descriptive words could be put on chart paper.

Next, draw the following chart on the board and ask: What colors do these letters stand for? (clockwise: yellow, green, blue, purple, red, and orange; you may want to write them out next to their respective circles) What do you notice about the circles? (3 smaller, 3 larger)What do the 3 larger have in common? (primary colors) Are those 3 also the warm colors? (no) What are the warm colors? (reds, oranges, yellows--think of the sun, fire) What are the cool colors? (greens, blues, purples--think of a lake, a mountain, leaves of a tree)

What do the colors red, yellow, and blue have in common? (primary colors) What about purple, orange, and green? (secondary colors) What does that mean? (Secondary colors are produced by mixing two primary colors.).Ask: Who can put into words what the chart is telling us about the relationship between primary and secondary colors? (blue + yellow = green; yellow + red = orange; red + blue = purple) Be sure that the students can see what the chart is demonstrating: that, in each case, a secondary color is placed between the two primary colors that make up the secondary color.

Ask: How else can we make changes in a color? How could we lighten or darken it? (create different shades of a color--add a bit of white to lighten the shade, a bit of black to darken the shade) If possible, show some examples from the Suggested Books that illustrate the variety of shades that are possible within one color. Tell the students to think carefully about the color they like the very best as you distribute the paper.

Pass out the paper and have each student choose a color plus black and white to work with. Make sure they each have enough saucers or other shallow containers for mixing the various shades to use in their paintings plus cups of water for washing their brushes. Tell the students that they are going to experiment with making a painting with only one color. They can use as many shades as they like, darkening the color with a bit of black and lightening it with a bit of white. Demonstrate enough for them so that they are forewarned about how little black will overdarken the color. Show them how much easier it is to darken than lighten a color, so they need to go bit by bit with the darkening process. Remind them that they will need to find out how to differentiate between shades that are very close by their placement in the painting. Suggest That they can either make a drawing with a light pencil stroke first if they wish, or simply begin with the color itself, allowing the various shades to suggest a design for their placement.

When the paintings are completed be sure to hang them on the wall. A few students especially interested in color and design might be asked to hang the paintings in a way in which the particular arrangement of the monochromatic paintings creates its own interesting design.
***Color wheel adapted from Gene Baer, Paste, Pencils, Scissors & Crayons. West Nyack, N.Y.: Parker Publishing Company, 1979.

Fifth Grade - Visual Arts - Lesson 2 - Review of Landscape Painting

(Activity for this lesson adapted from Core Knowledge Unit by Linda Horn, Core Knowledge Charter School, Parker, Colorado)

Review the definition of a landscape painting.
Review problems for an artist special to landscape painting.
Experiment with foreground, middle ground, and background in landscape painting.
Create illusion of depth in a two-dimensional artwork.

Photographs and/or reproductions of well-known landscape paintings, see Suggested Books and suggestions in Overview
12 x 18" white paper, 1 per student
Tempera paints and brushes
Saucers or other shallow containers for mixing paint
Construction paper, scissors, and glue
Chart paper (optional)

Suggested Books
Florian, Douglas. A Painter. New York: Greenwillow Books, 1993.

A minimum of carefully worded text and a wide variety of styles and mediums beautifully illustrated by the author. The book can be read be read by fifth graders. The last page shows the materials most painters use, including tubes of different kinds of paints and their characteristics.

Waters, Elizabeth & Annie Harris. Royal Academy of Arts Painting: A young artist's guide. London: Dorling Kindersley, 1993.

Beautiful, large book with very clear format that lends itself to showing the whole class. It concentrates on the elements of painting and has practical applications to try for each of the elements it discusses. Color photographs of real-life objects and reproductions of artworks are outstanding. Text is complex, but illustrations are inspiring and instructive.

Aukerman, Ruth. Move Over, Picasso! A Young Painter's Primer. New Windsor, MD: Pat Depke Books (in association with the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC), 1994.

Good color reproductions of paintings and suggested activities in the style of each.

Note for the Teacher
Students following the Core Knowledge Sequence have been exposed to various examples of landscape painting since Kindergarten. In First and Second Grades they looked at landscape paintings in a more formal way, and in Third Grade they study ways of creating the illusion of depth in a two-dimensional painting. If your students have not had these lessons, you may have to supplement this review lesson with additional information and examples.


Show the students examples of well-known landscape paintings and ask: What kind of paintings are these? (landscape painting) Ask: Can landscape paintings have people in them? (yes, but they are usually very small and unimportant) Who can give me a definition of landscape painting? (Accept any answer that indicates that, although there may be people, animals, and other objects in a landscape painting, it is the land itself, the scene as a whole, that is most important.

Show the students some more examples of landscapes and ask: What do you think would be the most difficult things about painting a landscape? Discuss and then list the answers on the board or on chart paper under the heading Landscape Painting. The list should include the problem of light (can't control out of doors-it's changing constantly with time and weather) the problem of creating the illusion of depth, or a third dimension, in what is really only a two-dimensional artwork; which parts of the painting should be sharply in focus to create a foreground, middle ground, and background, and how painters unite those three areas (usually with a diagonal line in the form of a river running through, a coastline, a bank of trees, or a similar solution). Make sure that you spend time discussing each of these problems and point out the way various painters have solved the problems by showing them examples.

One of the ways that the students will notice that painters use to create depth in a landscape painting is by making those things in the background very small; those in the middle ground, somewhat larger; and those in the foreground, largest. Tell the students they will create landscapes using both paint and paper in which they will wrestle with the problem of creating the illusion of depth.

Pass out paper and a paint brush for each student. Allow the students to pick one color of tempera plus white paint. Then have them follow your instructions.

1. You will paint three irregularly shaped, wavy horizontal stripes on your paper. They might represent mountains, water, sky, whatever you would like. The top stripe will be the lightest shade of your color, so you will need to start with some white and add just a small amount of the color to it.

2. The middle ground will be a darker mixture with less white, and the foreground horizontal will be darker still.

3. Lightly, with pencil sketch in two or three simple objects that you want to have as part of your landscape (such as a tree, a house, or a figure). For each object, choose some colored construction paper and cut three in varying sizes from very small to very large. Place and glue the smallest objects in the background, the medium ones in the middle ground, and the largest in the foreground.
Have the students compare their landscapes with one another to see how each person has solved one of the major problems of creating a landscape painting. Tell them they will be studying a lot more about creating the illusion of depth in future art lessons when they look carefully at what painters call perspective.

Fifth Grade - Visual Arts - Lesson 3 - Review of Portrait Painting

Look carefully at some illustrations of well-known portraits.
Compare and contrast the results of changing the source of light for a portrait.
Make choices about expression for self-portrait.

Reproductions of portraits and self-portraits, see Suggested Books below
Mirrors and hats brought from home by each student
Some small flashlights (from science kits, squeeze or disposable would all work)
Drawing paper and crayons, colored pencils, and/or markers for each student

Suggested Books
Beckett, Sister Wendy. The Story of Painting. London & New York: Dorling Kindersley in association with the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1994.

Examples of portraits throughout.

Clarkin, Maura A. National Gallery of Art Activity Book. New York: Harry N. Abrams in asociation with the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Many examples of portraits from different periods included here.

Rice, Melanie & Chris. I Like Painting. New York: Warwick Press, 1989.

Combines examples of children's work with that of famous painters in various categories. Sections on Portraits, Family Portraits, and Painting People are particularly useful for this lesson.

Shapiro, Irwin. The Golden Books of America: Stories From Our Country's Past. New York: Golden Press, 1957.

This book has on pp. 212 and 213 large, clear black and white reproductions of the striking effect of two very different kinds of lighting on the head of the Lincoln statue referred to in the lesson.

Note to the Teacher

The students will need to be told beforehand that they will each need a mirror and a hat for this art lesson. Any hand mirror will work, since they are going to do self-portraits. Have a few on hand for those students who forget. The hat should be one that each student feels most accurately expresses him or herself, and they should have a good time deciding on one to use.

Those students who have followed the Core Curriculum before will have had many opportunities to look closely at slides or reproductions of well-known portraits from Kindergarten through Fourth Grade. For those new to the Core Curriculum, simply drawing their attention to the many portraits that surround them is one way to heighten their observational powers. The many Stuart portraits of Washington are all around us (in banks, on our paper money) as are many portraits of other historical figures. More than any other kind of art, portraits are probably the most familiar and accessible. Simply use the elements of color, line, texture, shapes, and light as tools for looking at any portrait with the students.


Show the students examples of well-known portraits in order to initiate a discussion about differences among them. You may want to make a list on the board or on chart paper of the considerations a portrait painter must make. The list might include formal or informal; full figure, three-quarters, or face only; light or dark background; surrounding objects; clothing; etc.

Ask for a definition of self-portrait (subject and artist are the same person).

Ask: What do you know about the structure of your own face, even without looking in your mirrors? Have the students close their eyes and feel the planes of their faces. Guide them through an exploration that includes the ridge of the brow, the shape of the cheekbones, the prominence of the nose, the soft area within the cheeks, and the way chins go in as well as out. Have them experiment with frowning and smiling to see how that changes the shape and feel of their faces.

Next have the students share the flashlights, so that each one has a chance to observe the marked differences in the way the angle of the light changes the expression of their faces. Ask: Which way does your face look flattened? (flashlight directly in front of face) Which way makes your face look the most sculpted, most three-dimensional? (flashlight on one side or the other) What happens when you put the flashlight under your chin and shine it up? (makes the face look like something out of a "horror movie") Let the students observe one another in pairs with these various experiments as well as viewing themselves. If you have access toa book that shows the famous illustration of the two lighting treatments of the Lincoln face for the statue in the Lincoln Memorial, show it to the students now.

The students will know already that they are to make self-portraits, since you have prepared them by having them bring mirrors and hats from home for the project. Nevertheless, you could allow them at this time to choose a few items from their desks that they might want to include in their self-portraits. They will not have all of the choices they have discussed above because of the limitations of the classroom and the size of hand mirrors, but they can also use their imaginations to elaborate on what they see.

Next, have the students put their hats on and see the changes that produces in their expression and overall appearance. Have them choose an expression that they want to convey--smiling and happy, angry, sad, dreamy, focused and try to "arrange" their faces to look convincing of that expression. Finally, they will have to decide whether to create a self-portrait in profile, full or three-quarter face.

Pass out paper and drawing materials to each student and give them time to complete their self-portraits. Take the time to admire and talk about them when everyone has finished. Be sure and have the students sign their names so they are visible when you have hung them around the room as a kind of "rogue's gallery."

Fifth Grade - Visual Arts - Lesson 4 - Incan Roads & Town Planning

Note for the Teacher
This art lesson should not be taught before History Lesson 5. The students will benefit from having had an exposure to some of the achievements of the Incas before undertaking this art project.

Review geographical information about location of Incan civilization.
onsider the architectural achievements of the Incan civilization.
Explore the needs of city planning.
Recognize the importance of roads/means of transportation to city planning.
Plan a city or other community.

Classroom size world map or map of South America
Roll of heavy brown paper from which to cut pieces 3 x 4'
Legal pads of lined paper, 1 for each group of 4
Drawings and photographs of ancient Inca buildings and cities (see Suggested books, below)

Suggested Books
Student Reference
Baquedano, Elizabeth. Eyewitness Books: Aztecs, Inca & Maya. New York: Knopf, 1993.

Visual materials are wonderful for showing the class.

Howard, Cecil. Pizarro and the Conquest of Peru. New York: American Heritage, 1968.

Excellent photographs of Incan artifacts and views of ancient roads, walls, cities of Machu Pichu and Cuzco. Not for text, but for sharing visual material with class and for teacher reference.

Mason, Antony. The Children's Atlas of Civilizations. Brookfield, CT: The Millbrook Press, 1994.

Good maps and visuals for supplementing this lesson.

Odiijk, Pamela. The Incas. Morristown, NJ: Silver Burdett, 1989.

Part of The Ancient World Series, the illustrations are good.

Ask for volunteers to show on the map the boundaries and extent of the Incan Empire at the time that Pizarro conquered it (present-day Colombia to Chile). Ask: What is the name of the country where the Incan Empire was centered? (Peru) Who can tell us some geographical observations about that land? (extremely mountainous, most of it coastal, accept any reasonable observations) Does anyone remember approximately when the Incan Empire began to be a finely-working civilization? (ca. 1200--it might be present on the timeline from History lessons) Who remembers what we call that period in history? (Middle Ages, medieval--from Fourth Grade History lessons)

Remind the students that one of the remarkable things about the Incan Empire is that

apparently no one went hungry. Some people were assigned to work in the fields growing food; everyone worked very hard, crops were distributed among all the people, and if there was a year when the weather and season were favorable to corn, etc. the extra food was dried and stored for times of need.

Show the students photographs/illustrations of the walls of Machu Pichu so that they can observe for themselves the way the stones of these walls were rounded and fitted so carefully that they have lasted all these hundreds of years. Tell them that the stones were so well fitted that, without any kind of mortar or cement, most of the stones would not even allow the blade of a knife to slip between them. Ask: What kind of art do these stone walls remind you of? (sculpture) Why is that? (3-dimensional, massive, beautiful)

Another remarkable thing about the Incan civilization that made it work well was the building of two complete systems of roads (illustration, p. of book) that stretched for several thousand miles and joined all parts of the Empire so that food and supplies could be easily distributed and people and their animals (llamas and alpacas predominantly, which were used to produce wool for clothing) could move about when necessary. What famous ancient civilization in Europe was especially well known for bulding a remarkable system of roads? (Rome--students studied in Fourth Grade History) What did the Romans use their roads for? (transporting food, weapons, soldiers) What geographical feature do you think made it harder for the Incans to build their roads than the Romans? (presence of huge chain of very high mountains the length of the Empire)

Tell the students that they are going to work in groups of four to create cities or other communities that will work as efficiently as possible and provide for the needs of all the people. Brainstorm with them to discover what kinds of things they need in their own city. Write on the board the items they come up with, having discussed what the importance of each item is. For example, you might ask what they need roads for? (get to the store for food, visit friends and relatives, etc.) Ask: What about public transportation--the light rail, buses, trains--how important are they to your idea of a good city? Where would public transportation be in relation to the roads? What about schools and where will they be in relation to where the people live? What about garbage? Where will that go? Encourage the students to continue discussing these things in their groups of four.

Give each group of students a large piece of brown paper and colored markers with the following instructions.

1. For each group, one person will lie down on the paper with arms, legs, and other parts of the body arranged to create an irregular shape.

2. Using a large, colored marker, another person in the group will trace loosely around the body to create the basic city or community.

3. Using various colors of markers, take turns adding a system of roads to serve the areas where people live, where the schools and health services are, where the food is produced, etc.

4. As the students make their communities, circulate around the room, encouraging and reminding groups of things they may need to consider.

5. When everyone has finished, have each group choose someone to be their spokesperson to

present that group's plan to the rest of the class.

Additional Activity
Those students who find this kind of planning particularly challenging and interesting would enjoy working with a software program on the computer called Sim City (the latest version is Sim City 2,000). If your school owns the software and the student(s) have access to the computers, it makes a good supplement to the activity the students have completed. They will have to think about population, raising taxes, and other economic issues that complicate the task of city planning.