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Exploring the World with Peter SIs


Date: Sat Jul 19 2003 - 15:44:07 PDT

Lesson Plan
"Exploring the World with Peter Sis"

Subjects: art, language arts, social studies
Grade Level: 5-8
Time Needed: five 35-50-minute class periods
Lesson Submitted: Jill Swedlow (

Goal: Explore how different objects can be combined to create a
three-dimensional sculpture that represents a specific mood or feeling

About the artist: Tibet: Through the Red Box (written and illustrated by
Peter Sis) tells the tale of SIs' father, a photographer who was lost in the
Himalayas for almost two years. Sis created this book from his father's diary
found in the "red box," from childhood memories and from stories his father told
him on his return. Through this journey, Sis discovers his father and the
magical world he inhabited. Peter Sis is an international award-winning artist,
writer and filmmaker.

Read about the artist and his work; discuss how that information affects our
understanding of the work.
Find and select objects expressive of a personal mood or feeling.
Create a sculpture that contains symbolic object

expressive: something that communicates feelings or moods
symbol: an image that stands for something other than its literal meaning
found objects: existing objects that an artist exhibits as art


Provide students with everyday objects such as soil, shells, dried flowers,
Elmer's All Purpose Glue
sketch paper

Discussion Questions

What is your initial response to the work?
What materials has the artist used? What do you think the materials
Do the materials have anything in common?
What questions would you like to ask the artist?

Ideas for Activities:

Explore the important role that materials and colors play in artwork. This
lesson focuses on the themes of exploring identity and representing our world.

Students will determine what objects they will incorporate into their
sculpture to help communicate their message.
Talk to students about concepts of overlapping and layering and it may be
connected with 3D art.
Arrange objects to create a three-dimensional sculpture.
Encourage students to write about their work. Ask the following questions:
What did your objects represent? What is the overall impression of your work?

Additional Connections:

Language Arts
Ask students to compile a list of adjectives and adverbs that come to mind
after reading and viewing Peter Sis' book.
Then have them create poems based on the artwork.

Social Studies
Tibet's strategic importance, straddling the Himalayan between China and the
Indian subcontinent, made it irresistible to China, which invaded in 1950.
Tibetans have never had it easy. Even so, the deliberate cultural strangling
inflicted by the Chinese government since 1950 rates as the harshest burden
Tibet's native inhabitants have been forced to endure. Have students investigate
the steps taken by the Chinese government during this time period. Then have
them create a comparison chart tracking key moments in the Tibetan history.