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Lesson Plans

Re: First grade

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Mark Alexander (mamjam)
Sun, 14 Sep 1997 13:05:01 -0500

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I teach at a small K-8 school, with a total enrollment of about 130
students. There is one division of each grade, with the exception of K-2,
who are all in one room. Art is held in the K-2 room in the afternoon,
right after lunch and recess, so I don't get the Kindergarten folks who go
home before lunch. There are 25 1-2 students (10 Kindergarten), and an
average of 16, 3-8 grade students per class. Except for grade 4 and 8, I
meet every grade once per week, for an hour and fifteen or twenty minutes.
The grades 4 and 8 have art for forty minutes, twice per week, which isn't
as much fun as the longer periods, but still is much better exposure to art
than most kids in this area get.

In the 1-2 class, we always begin with a 15 - 20 minute discussion in the
rug corner. There is also an aid who works with them all day who stays
there to help me. This discussion period on the rug is very important
because I can review prior learning, connect to other lessons they are
doing, show reproductions or original art and talk about art history, and
get them thinking about art. Usually I do my demonstrations on the rug,
too, where I can get them focused on me, rather than at the big tables
where their focus is on their friends and their projects. Sometimes I read
a story to get them motivated or to give them something to illustrate.

That leaves about an hour for art production, cleanup and closure. I think
that an hour is just about perfect, and most of the students agree. While
there are a few who finish quickly and this is sometimes a problem, most of
them are comfortable with using the whole hour to make their art. Those
that finish early may do a free drawing, but I try not to offer projects
for early finishers that are more attractive than the main project of the

If a majority of the class has completed their work early, I often
incorporate a class critique at the end of the period. I use the PRAISE,
QUESTION, PROPOSE format to get them to look carefully at and think about
their art work and the art work of their classmates, and they Love it!

Some projects just don't take as long as I thought they would, but the
reverse is more often true. When they are all finished early and a class
critique isn't practical, I play artistic hangman with them. At this level
we're limited to just color, or line, or shape names. In other grades we
can do bigger words/concepts. The game is just like hangman, but instead of
a gallows I use a big matboard palette with laminated paper patches of the
primary and secondary colors and black and white. When they guess the wrong
letter I put a color on the palette, and they 'hang' it the whole set of
colors gets put up.

When you come right down to it, I'd still rather increase the art time than
decrease it, and I even get them for longer periods than most. I hope this
helps with the first grade question. I'd love to see more activity ideas
for early finishers, even in the other grades.


Mark Alexander
1-8 Art on the Cart
Lee H. Kellogg School
Falls Village, Connecticut 06031

"We are healthy only to the extent
that our ideas are humane."
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

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