Art Lesson 3rd Grade

Name: Whitney Fehr

Date: 02/10/10

General Information I want the kids to be able to pick out basic symbols and artistic elements when looking at works of art. That way when they create their own works they will be able to apply techniques that real artists use.

Subject: Famous works of art, the meaning of symbols and colors in art, and possible explanations for works of art.

Length of Lesson: One 1 hour session and one 40 minute session, two day lesson.

Grade Level: Third Grade

Short Description/Summary: The students will be taught what symbols are and how they relate to art. They will then have the chance to play one of several art games on the computers (internet). There will then be a discussion in class about symbols (that the games gave them some knowledge of), how to find them in art, and what they might mean.

Student Learning

Connection to standards:

Utah K-12 Core Curriculum: Visual Arts 3rd grade, Standard 3 (Expressing): The student will choose and evaluate artistic subject matter, themes, symbols, ideas, meanings, and purposes.

Objective 1: Explore possible content and purposes in significant works of art.

  • Explain possible meanings or interpretations of some significant works of art.
  • Invent possible stories that may explain what is going on in these same works of art

Objective 2: Discuss, evaluate, and choose symbols, ideas, subject matter, meanings, and purposes for their own artworks.

  • Group significant works of art according to theme or subject matter.
  • Judge which works of art most clearly communicate through the use of symbols.
  • Create symbols in art that express individual or group interests.
  • Create a work of art that uses a similar subject matter, symbol, idea, and/or meaning found in a significant work of art.
    • Select some art for public display around the school.

NETS-T: 3. Research and Information Fluency: Students apply digital tools to gather, evaluate, and use information.

Objectives: Students will be able to identify symbols in famous art works. They will be able to decipher the meaning of objects, colors, and the setting in pictures.


  • Discussion (day one): After a short lecture and computer time (for the kids to go over the websites) we will discuss the different symbols that we talked about in class and that they came across on the websites. We will do this by going over examples, some of the pictures will be things that they may have come across others will be new pictures that they will have to use their new knowledge to decode.
  • Review (homework): On the teacher’s blog, each student will be required to post an idea of what they are going to draw. They will need to express possible symbols and colors they will use and what they might mean.
  • Work Sample (day two): After the lesson and the discussion the kids will get the chance to create their own masterpieces using the different symbols they have learned about. They will turn that in along with a short paragraph describing what the things in their pictures represent.

Lesson Preparation Teachers will need to reserve a computer lab for at least a 20 minute slot or use computers in their rooms. They will also need to go to the library and check out pictures of famous works of art (at least 6), and books on symbols if they are available, or have pictures ready to project (find them on-line). For the work sample the students will be required to complete the teacher will need to have drawing paper, crayons, writing paper, and a couple of examples.

Technology Resources Required: Every kid needs the chance to use the internet for about 20 minutes.

Background for teachers: Teachers will need to research the pieces of artwork that they intend to show the class. Make sure they know the major symbols in each and their possible meanings. Each library has a different selection of art works to choose from, however the third grade core suggests:   Factory Worker’ by Mahonri Young, ‘Channel Three’ by Edith Roberson,  ‘Riders of the Range’ by Paul Salisbury, ‘The Cradle’ by Berthe Morisot,  ‘My Gems’ by William Harnett,  ‘Enamel Saucepan’ or other works by Pablo Picasso,  ‘Man in the Golden Helmet’ and other works by Rembrandt van Rijn, ‘La Grande Jatte’ by Georges Seurat, and ‘Summertime’ by Romare Bearden. Also be familier with the websites that the kids will get to use.

Setup Make sure you have computers available and make sure you have famous works that you are familiar with. Also have art supplies ready on the second day of the lesson.

Time Lesson Plan
10 minutes

60 minutes plus homework time

30 minutes


• Get the students attention by turning the lights off and projecting a piece of art on to a screen at the front of the room. Then start asking them questions that don’t necessarily have a right answer. For example: How does this picture make you feel. What does this artwork remind you of? What do you like or not like about this?

• To activate prior knowledge ask more subjective questions like: Does anyone know what this is or who painted it? Does this remind you of something you have seen before? What did you learn about famous art last year? Etc.

• To connect this lesson to lessons they have already had make sure that you listen when they tell you what they know and base the after computer discussion around that knowledge.


• In order to develop this lesson the teacher will need to introduce the subject (symbols in art) and be able to figure out what the students already know about the subject. They will then need to let the children explore the subject for about 20 minutes on their own (via the internet websites provided). Afterwards the teacher will need to be able to talk the kids’ trough the meanings and symbols in several famous paintings. On the second day of the lesson the teacher will need to be able to do a quick review and assist the kids as needed with their own paintings. This will be easier if the students have done their homework posts and the teacher has read them.

• The technology resources used in the lesson are as follows: projector hooked up to the internet, computer lab time for the class, and a blog (the kids should have previous knowledge and possibly a set time to use the blog).

• This lesson targets deep learning on several levels. At the beginning the students are asked to define, recall, name, and recognize. For example: Does anyone recall seeing this painting before? Do you remember anything about it? Can you name the artist? Etc. After the on-line portion of the lesson they will again be asked to recall, what they learned on the websites. They will also be asked to discuss different symbols and colors and restate things we have gone over in class. For example we may look at the same painting that we looked at at the beginning of class but use their new knowledge to interpret it. They will also be asked to compare and contrast different paintings. For their homework the students will be required formulate a plan for their own picture. They will do this by composing a paragraph that details the design they have come up with. (this paragraph will be submitted on the blog.

In the next part of the lesson they will be asked to create the piece that they discussed in their blog paragraphs. When they are down they will get to present their pictures to a small group. The group will have the chance to evaluate it and the artist will have the chance to explain it.


• After each group has gone over everyone’s picture they will get to pick one person from their group to share with the class. These kids can either present their own or have someone from their group present it for them. Then the lesson will end.


• The summative assessment is the children’s paragraphs and art works. If they make sense and go along with what they were taught then they probably understood symbols in art. Formative assessments include the discussions, the paragraph and the group critiques.


• In order to adapt this lesson to students with differing abilities the following steps will be taken:

  • gifted and talented students will have the option to go through library books on symbols that the teacher will have pre-checked out. They will also be given some other websites that they can explore further.
  • The Louvre and The Met
  • Kids with special needs: their individual needs will be met and they will be partnered up if they need to be (possibly with a gifted student.
  • It has be played by ear, the teacher needs to keep her eyes open and be able to help both those that are struggling and those that are bored.

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