Category: 5th grade

5th Grade – Play Props and Scenery

5th Grade – Play Props and Scenery

Description of the Unit – Students will conceptualize, design and build props and set pieces for their end-of-year performance. This unit can help anyone who has some kind of event or play to put on and is looking at how students can take full control of the process.

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5th Grade – Print Advertising (and cultivating visual literacy)

5th Grade – Print Advertising (and cultivating visual literacy)

Description of the Unit – Students will take a critical look at a variety of award-winning print ads, exploring the ways in which the ads use elements and principles of design to sell a product, and as such cultivating visual literacy by understanding mechanism of persuasion. Using what they have learned, students will work in groups to create an ad (for a real-world product but imaginary brand) that works to catch the eye and persuade the viewer to buy the product they are selling. To test the ads’ effectiveness, we have a school-wide contest to choose the most effective, persuasive and visually interesting ad.


These two ads for Samsung cameras use famous figures (Vincent Van Gogh and frida Kahlo) and a bit of humor to draw its audience and tell a story
These two ads for Samsung cameras use famous figures and a bit of humor to draw its audience and tell a story
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5th Grade – The Eye of the Dragon!

5th Grade – The Eye of the Dragon!

Description of the Unit –

Students will use a variety of artistic techniques to create a bright, vivid and wildly textured magnified dragon eye. When you look through the students’ dragon eyes below, note how remarkably unique each one is: it speaks to the fact that by 5th grade, many students are really beginning to hone in on their personal artistic styles!

5th grade art lesson - magnified dragon eye
5th grade art lesson – magnified dragon eye
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5th Grade – Yayoi Kusama’s Pumpkins

5th Grade – Yayoi Kusama’s Pumpkins

Description of the Unit –

Yayoi Kusama is one of my favorite contemporary artists. Her irreverence, originality, rebelliousness and whimsy have won my heart, as have her personal struggles with mental illness. An artist whose work always surprises and delights, I love to bring her life story and work to my students.

Together we explore and discuss the work of this seminal Japanese artist, whose pioneering installations have enthralled visitors to her work over the last several decades. Using her iconic polka-dotted pumpkins as inspiration, students will emphasize the elements of line, color and shape, and well as principles of pattern, repetition and movement, in their own brightly colored pumpkins.

The indomitable Yayoi Kusama at work
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5th Grade – Alexander Calder and Kinetic Sculptures

5th Grade – Alexander Calder and Kinetic Sculptures

Description of the Unit –

Students will explore the whimsical, yet ordered and divinely balanced kinetic sculptures of Alexander Calder, using his work as inspiration for their own kinetic sculpture.  

Alexander Calder working on one of his kinetic sculptures, and his piece Antenna, 1940
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5th Grade – Weaving an Ojo de Dios

5th Grade – Weaving an Ojo de Dios

Description of the Unit –

Students will learn about the Huichol tradition of weaving an “Ojo de Dios” and practice weaving one of their own, attempting more complicated patterns and techniques as they progress.

Activity statement –

Upon the birth of a baby, Huichol (an indigenous Mexican group) parents weave a beautifully colored and elaborate “Ojo de Dios”, signifying health and protection throughout the child’s life. The child adds to this very Ojo de Dios with each new birthday starting at about age 5. Beginning with a simplified Huichol weaving style, students will create an Ojo de Dios, which will develop their hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. With each new Ojo de Dios a student attempts, he/she will practice more complicated weaving techniques, create more elaborate color and shape designs, and improve their overall finished product.

I have a short video on making an Ojo de Dios here:

The Huichol of Nayarit, Mexico with an Ojo de Dios
Where the Huichol are located
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5th Grade –  Nighttime one-point perspective

5th Grade – Nighttime one-point perspective

Description of the Unit –

Students create a basic nighttime one-point perspective drawing that includes a vanishing point and a horizon line.

5th grade 1-point perspective drawing

Problem/Activity statement –

As objects recede in space, they become smaller to our eye, and eventually meet at a point. A horizon line meets at a vanishing point to separate sky and ground. Students will observe different examples of cities one-point perspective to begin to get a sense for how we perceive things up close and at a distance, as well as to learn to identify whether the perspective is high (“bird’s eye view”) at eye-level, or low (Cat’s eye view”). Additionally, students are challenged with expressing the qualities of color and light at night.

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