3rd grade – Personification of feelings with Mies van Hout’s “Happy”

3rd grade – Personification of feelings with Mies van Hout’s “Happy”

“Happy” by Mies van Hout

Activity statement – If “sad” had a color, what color would that be? If “confused” were expressed in lines, what kind of lines would those be? By exploring the associations of color and lines to certain feelings, students will imagine little creatures that personify those feelings, much in the style of Mies Van Hout’s book “Happy”.

Description of the Unit – Together in class we explored and discussed Mies Van Hout’s picture book “Happy”. In this book Van Hout has colorfully illustrated a number of different fish, each with clearly gestural lines personifying a different emotion (also helped by the expression on each fish’s face). In this book, each emotion is represented in the fish through use of color and line. The students discussed why they thought a particular fish was represented by certain colors or lines to describe a particular feeling. Students shared their own synesthesia around feelings, conveying what colors and types of lines they associate with a certain feeling.

©Mies van Hout
©Mies van Hout

I then gave the students black paper and some oil pastels and invited them to choose a feeling written on one of many index cards I had prepared for them. As an added learning tool, each feeling was written in both English and Spanish, since our students start learning Spanish in Kindergarten. This way they can learn new vocabulary while working on their creature. Having chosen a feeling, each student imagined his/her own little creature that, through (sometimes carefully, sometimes spontaneously) considered lines and colors, personally represented said feeling in the eyes of that student. This kind of metaphorical thinking might seem sophisticated for 3rd grade, but because this is visually expressed, they are better able to make the connection between color, line and feeling.

3rd grade – personification of feelings à la Mies van Hout’s “Happy” : happy and shy

Objectives –

Students will:

  • Explore Mies Van Hout’s “Happy”
  • Discuss the kinds of colors and lines they associate with particular feelings
  • Create creatures that personify feelings via the use of artistic elements

Goals – Students should…

Understand:

  • What is meant by a color representing a feeling
  • What is meant by a line (straight, squiggly, jagged, feathery, etc.) representing a feeling

Know:

  • Ways to interpret a feeling through elements of art.

Be able to:

  • Create a creature that personifies a feeling through the above mentioned artistic elements.

3rd grade – personification of feelings à la Mies van Hout’s “Happy”: furious and relaxed

3rd grade – personification of feelings à la Mies van Hout’s “Happy”: Joyful

Resources and materials –

  • Mies Van Hout’s book “Happy”
  • Index cards with a variety of feelings (mine are both in Spanish and English so that they can learn some new Spanish vocabulary)
  • Black cardstock
  • Oil pastels in a variety of colors
  • Chalk pastels in a variety of colors
  • Flash cards with a diverse array of feelings in both Spanish and English

Questions – (While looking through “Happy” by Mies Van Hout) Why does this fish represent (Y) feeling?

(For example: “what do you notice about the lines on the [confused] fish? [They’re squiggly/shaky]. Why do you think its lines are so wobbly? How do you feel when you are confused?” etc.,)

What does the (particular color) say about (Y) feeling?

What makes these lines relate to (Y) feeling?

What color do you think of when you think of (X) feeling? What kinds of lines?

Evaluation –

Did students:

Understand how color and line can be associated to a give feeling?

Talk about what colors and lines they imagine when they think of a given feeling?

Create creatures that represented a variety of feelings?

Informal:

  • Student questions
  • Group discussions
  • Oral responses to essential questions
  • At least two compete creatures, with the feeling they represent
3rd grade – personification of feelings à la Mies van Hout’s “Happy”: Enraged
3rd grade – personification of feelings à la Mies van Hout’s “Happy”: Shocked
3rd grade personification of feelings à la Mies van Hout’s “Happy”: Angry
3rd grade – personification of feelings à la Mies van Hout’s “Happy”: Loving

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