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Museum Home Education Search Lesson Plans All Curricula Art & Language Arts: Ideas for the Classroom Lesson Plans Letter from the Chateau
Letter from the Chateau

Grades/Level: Upper Elementary (3–5)
Subjects: Visual Arts, English–Language Arts
Time Required: Long–Term Unit
Two weeks
Author: Robert Allen Karon, 3rd Grade Teacher, Canterbury Magnet School, Los Angeles Unified School District

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Lesson Plans

Lesson Overview

Students write a friendly letter based on their observations of a painting by Poussin. They demonstrate their observation of the painting's content and new vocabulary that they access themselves, using a thesaurus.

Learning Objectives

Students should be able to:
• write a friendly letter in the correct format.
• use a thesaurus to aid and enhance writing.
• use the vocabulary of art elements to describe and discuss a work of art.


• Internet access
• a variety of colored Post-it notes
• several thesauruses
• writing paper and pencils
• an image of Nicholas Poussin's Landscape with a Calm

Lesson Steps

1. Have students observe a laminated image of Landscape with a Calm by Nicolas Poussin and identify nouns, adjectives, verbs, and prepositions that describe or can be found in the painting. Encourage students to identify the elements of art, such as line, color, shape/ form, texture, space, and value.

2. Each student should write the words they come up with on a Post-it note and adhere it directly to the laminated image.

3. Review the words that are placed on the image with the class and discuss their meaning.

4. Using the vocabulary of art, have the class discuss what the painting is about and what the artist is trying to communicate.

5. Give students thesauruses. Have them find and catalogue alternate words for those adhered to the image.

6. Have the class imagine that they are inside the painting.

7. Using the alternate words found in the thesaurus, each student should write a friendly letter home. The letter should be written as if they are somewhere in the landscape.

8. Students share their letters with the class.

Landscape with Calm / Poussin
Landscape with a Calm, Nicolas Poussin, 1650

Standards Addressed

Visual Arts Standards for California Public Schools
Grade 3

Artistic Perception
1.5 Identify and describe elements of art in works of art, emphasizing line, color, shape/form, texture, space, and value.

Aesthetic Valuing
4.3 Select an artist's work and, using appropriate vocabulary of art, explain its successful compositional and communicative qualities.

Language Arts Standards for California Public Schools
Grade 3

Writing Strategies
1.0 Students write clear and coherent sentences and paragraphs that develop a central idea. Their writing shows they consider the audience and purpose. Students progress through the stages of the writing process (e.g., prewriting, drafting, revising, editing successive versions).
1.3 Understand the structure and organization of various reference materials (e.g., dictionary, thesaurus, atlas, encyclopedia).

Writing and Oral English Language Conventions Applications
1.0 Students write and speak with a command of standard English conventions appropriate to this grade level.
1.4 Identify and use subjects and verbs correctly in speaking and writing simple sentences.
1.9 Arrange words in alphabetic order.

"This sequence of lessons was an effective tool in developing vocabulary and inspiring a richly written friendly letter. It further resulted in providing my students with a keen ability to observe with discernment artworks for an extended period." —Robert Allen Karon

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