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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1st Grade – Sakura: Japanese Cherry Blossoms…through a straw!

1st Grade – Sakura: Japanese Cherry Blossoms…through a straw!

Description of the Unit – (Not a unit per se, as we only spend a couple of class periods on this.) Students celebrate the arrival of spring by creating Sakura, or Japanese cherry blossoms, in the most amusing way…

A photo of Hanami is the tradition of celebrating the Sakura, the arrival of Japanese cherry blossoms
Hanami is the tradition of celebrating the Sakura, the arrival of Japanese cherry blossoms
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Kindergarten – Halloween Shadow Puppets inspired by Wayang Kulit puppets

Kindergarten – Halloween Shadow Puppets inspired by Wayang Kulit puppets

Description of the Unit – When I was about eight years old, an uncle of mine returned from working abroad in Jakarta, Indonesia, and brought back a pair of Wayang Golek rod puppets. These two-foot tall dolls both frightened and fascinated me, with their elaborately painted, expressive faces and beautifully dyed, patterned clothes. Many years later I learned that these puppets were related to another Indonesian puppetry art-form: the Wayang Kulit shadow puppets. These puppets are mostly two-dimensional and are manipulated in front of a diaphanous, backlit screen. The puppets themselves have designs and patterns cut into them making them look almost lace-like, adding to the characteristics of individual puppets.

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7th Grade – Movement, Repetition and Balance with Jean Dubuffet’s Hourloupe

7th Grade – Movement, Repetition and Balance with Jean Dubuffet’s Hourloupe

Description of the Unit – Emphasizing movement, balance and repetition with Jean Dubuffet’s Hourloupe

This unit revisits a second-grade unit which also focused on the Hourloupe to practice line and pattern; here we go further to practice the above-mentioned principles of design.

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6th Grade – Architectural Foil Repousse inspired by artist Stephen Wiltshire

6th Grade – Architectural Foil Repousse inspired by artist Stephen Wiltshire

Description of the Unit –

Students will learn about the life and work of artist Stephen Wiltshire. Using his incredibly detailed drawings of buildings and cityscapes, students will create a mini architectural drawing that they will then transfer onto foil.

Artist Stephen Wiltshire working on one of his cityscape panoramas
Artist Stephen Wiltshire working on one of his cityscape panoramas
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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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4th Grade – Suzanne Valadon and subjective approaches

4th Grade – Suzanne Valadon and subjective approaches

Description of the Unit –

This unit will be guided by both technique and style. Students will observe the work of Impressionist painter Suzanne Valadon and discuss ways in which her paintings, particularly of animals, are impressionistic. How does Impressionism differ from realism?

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