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Museum Home Education Search Lesson Plans All Curricula Art & Language Arts: Ideas for the Classroom Lesson Plans And Then What Happened?
And Then What Happened?

Grades/Level: Upper Elementary (3–5)
Subjects: Visual Arts, English–Language Arts
Time Required: 2–Part Lesson
3 class periods
Author: Carla Buchanan, Third Grade Teacher, Edison Elementary, Burbank Unified School District

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Lesson Overview

Once Upon a Kite / Makiling

Students will use nouns, verbs, and adjectives to describe details visible in two paintings depicting two different landscapes: one calm, and one stormy. They will write a narrative inspired by the paintings, paying attention to transitional words or phrases and sensory details. Students will then use color and line to create their own calm or stormy landscape.

Learning Objectives

Students will be able to:
• use nouns, verbs, adjectives, and sensory words to describe details in two paintings.
• write a narrative with a clear beginning, middle, and end.
• use transitional words and phrases in a narrative.
• identify how color, line, and movement are used to help tell stories in paintings.
• apply their knowledge of descriptive language and artistic elements to create a landscape depicting the weather.


• Image of A Storm on the Mediterranean Coast
• Image of A Calm at a Mediterranean Port
• Chart paper
• Drawing paper
• Colored pencils
• Watercolors and paint brushes

Lesson Steps

Part 1: Calm and Stormy Stories
1. Display an image of A Storm on the Mediterranean Coast and allow students to take the time to look closely at the work of art. Ask students what they would hear if they were in the painting. Have the class use their voices, hands, or objects at their desks to make each sound that is mentioned. For instance, the sound of rain could be imitated if students pat their laps rapidly, alternating hands. The sound of wind could be imitated with rustling papers. After students provide four or five sounds, tell each student to choose one sound to make in order to bring the painting to life using the whole class. Have all students make their chosen sound at once.

2. Discuss the painting further using the following questions:
• What other sensory details do you notice in the painting?
• Can you name nouns that describe things in the foreground? What do you see in the middle ground? In the background?
• What adjectives can you use to describe the scene?
• What verbs can you use to describe what people are doing?
• What is happening in this painting? What do you see that would make you say that?

Chart each response on the board under the categories of "nouns," "verbs," and "adjectives."

3. Display an image of A Calm at a Mediterranean Port and repeat Steps 1 and 2.

4. On chart paper, have students compare and contrast the paintings using a graphic organizer of your choice (i.e., a Venn diagram or Thinking Maps® such as a Double Bubble Map). Which details are included in both paintings? Which details are different?

5. Tell students that they will write a first draft of a narrative that takes place in the scenes depicted in the two paintings. The narrative begins in the scene depicted in A Calm at a Mediterranean Port, and the narrative must end in the scene depicted in A Storm on the Mediterranean Coast. Have students concentrate on what changes from one painting to the other. Allow students to work with a partner to brainstorm ideas for what happened in the middle of the story.

6. For the first drafts, tell students to skip a line after every sentence. They will use the skipped lines later when inserting transitional words or phrases. For now, students can use the word "then" as a transition between events in their stories. Invite a few students to read their stories aloud to the class.

7. After students complete their first drafts, have them cirlce each time they used the word "then" in their stories. Ask students to work with a partner and brainstorm transitional words and phrases that they could use instead of the word "then." Invite students to share their ideas and write them on the board. Provide additional transitional words and phrases that were not already mentioned (i.e., "eventually," "suddenly," "for fear that," "as a result of").

8. Have students refer to the list of transitional words and phrases on the board and replace every "then" in their stories with a more interesting transition. Invite students to read their revised stories aloud to the class. Discuss which versions are more interesting to hear—the versions with "then" as transition, or the versions with other transitional words and phrases.

Part 2: Calm or Stormy Paintings
1. Return to the images of A Calm at a Mediterranean Port and A Storm on a Mediterranean Coast. How does the artist show that the setting is calm? How does the artist show that the setting is stormy? How does he use color, movement, and line to help tell the story? Point out that there are more diagonal lines and a lot of movement in the painting of the storm, and more horizontal and vertical lines in the painting of the calm setting. Also point out that the sky takes up a large portion of each canvas, which helps viewers to see all the details included to paint a stormy or calm sky.

2. Pass out drawing paper and colored pencils, and tell students they will be creating landscapes. Each student must choose whether he or she will paint a stormy or calm landscape. Have each student use colored pencils to draw objects in the foreground and middle ground of his or her landscape. Instruct students to leave a large portion of their papers blank for the sky, which they will be painting later. As they draw, remind students that more diagonal lines should be included in a stormy landscape and more horizontal and vertical lines should be included in a calm landscape.

3. When students' drawings are complete, pass out watercolors and paint bruushes. Instruct students to paint a wash of color for the sky. Tell students who are creating stormy landscapes that they should not just paint the sky black. Tell them that they should paint areas of light and dark, as seen in Vernet's painting. Students who are creating calm landscapes can use primarily light colors and horizontal and vertical lines.

A Storm / Vernet
A Storm on the Mediterranean Coast, Claude-Joseph Vernet, 1767


Assess students' writings based on whether they followed instructions for the topic, included transitional words and phrases other than "then," and wrote a clear beginning, middle, and end. Assess their works of art based on whether they were able to show a calm or stormy landscape through line and color.


Have students write about their own paintings. What happened before the scene? What happened afterwards? Remind them to use transitional phrases and sensory details.

Standards Addressed

Visual and Performing Arts Content Standards for California State Public Schools

Grade 3

Artistic Perception
1.1 Perceive and describe rhythm and movement in works of art and in the environment.
1.3 Identify and describe how foreground, middle ground and background are used to create the illusion of space.

Creative Expression
2.3 Paint or draw a landscape, seascape or cityscape that shows the illusion of space.

English—Language Arts Content Standards for California Public Schools

Grade 3

1.0 Writing Strategies
1.1 Create a single paragraph.

Writing Applications (Genres and Their Characteristics)
2.1 Write narratives.
2.2 Write descriptions that use concrete sensory details to present and support unified impressions of people, places, things, or experiences.

Listening and Speaking
1.0 Listening and Speaking Strategies
1.3 Respond to questions with appropriate elaboration.

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