Grades/Level: Lower Elementary (K–2)
Subjects: Visual Arts, English–Language Arts, Science
Time Required: Long–Term Unit
6 to 7 weeks
Author: Sue Tavetian, 2nd Grade Teacher, Clover Avenue Elementary, Los Angeles Unified School District

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Lesson Overview

Reindeer / Heo
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Students discuss how the environment influences animal characteristics by looking at Hans Hoffmann's painting A Hare in the Forest. After the discussion, students research an animal that uses camouflage, paint that animal within its environment, and write a sentence describing its habitat. Students use this as a basis on which to write a sequential narrative about their animal and its relationship to its environment. This lesson is an extension to the Open Court Reader second grade unit on animal camouflage called "Look Again."

Learning Objectives

Students should be able to:
• Identify and discuss animal characteristics that are influenced by the environment.
• Identify physical attributes of an animal that are caused or influenced by the habitat it lives in.
• Use line, color, and shape to describe objects in nature and the environment in a watercolor painting.
• Write three paragraphs that describe an animal and its habitat and how it uses camouflage to survive.
• Give an oral report to the class about a specific animal and its habitat.

Materials

Open Court second grade texts: Reader Textbooks, Comprehension and Language Arts Skills, and Inquiry Journal (optional)
• Various research tools: encyclopedias, books, and magazines, the Internet, and images of animals in their natural environments
• White construction paper, pencils, permanent markers, watercolors, crayons, and brushes
• Writing paper, pencils, and/or word-processing software and a printer
• Binding supplies to make a class book from finished works (optional)

Lesson Steps

1. As part of their Open Court curriculum, students should have read about animal camouflage in the unit "Look Again." Students should have learned about different kinds of camouflage and why some animals need camouflage to survive. While reading selections in the text, discuss the various reasons animals use camouflage and how they blend into their environment (through blending with background colors, using mimicry, and breaking up their own coloration to blend in with the environment).

2. Have students to look closely at A Hare in the Forest and discuss what they see. Start with a 30-second look: Tell students to look quietly at the painting for 30 seconds and try to remember as many details as they can. Then cover the image and have students name as many things as they can remember seeing. List everything the students observed in the painting on a chart. Then show the image again and have the students point out things they missed. Add these items to the chart and bring to their attention the animals and plants they missed. Ask students why it is hard to see these creatures. Talk about how the different creatures hide in the wild.

3. Ask the class if they have seen a hare before. Does this look hare look real? How did the artist make the hare look real? Discuss the use of color and line in the picture. What colors does the artist use to paint the hare? Are those colors used in other parts of the painting? If so, where do you see them used? Does the hare stand out as the main focus? Why or why not? How does color help the hare survive in his habitat? How will this environment change in winter? What type of camouflage do you think the hare will use to survive in the winter? What other objects are included in the painting? Do these objects look real? Describe the kinds of lines you see in the picture. Lines depict texture and movement and define shapes. Does the hare look like it is moving? Why or why not? Do animals hide well when they are still and quiet? What other objects are included in the painting? How are they similar to or different from the hare? What other colors do you see in the painting? Are they also camouflaged?

4. Have students pick one animal that uses camouflage. Students will conduct research to find out what type of a habitat the animal lives in and how it uses camouflage to survive in that environment. They may use various reference materials such as encyclopedias, periodicals, books, and Internet resources. Some educational Web sites have games that teach about animal camouflage.

5. Students will use a pencil to draw their animal on construction paper. Encourage students to use as much of the paper as possible. Students should focus on creating the forms (limbs, wings, beaks, etc.) and use lines to create texture (fur, feathers, scales, etc.) of their animals. They will then fill in details of the animal's habitat, such as plants and geological features, that they have learned about in their research. Students should try to depict the illusion of depth in their drawing by using overlapping shapes, relative sizes (larger for objects in the foreground and smaller for objects in the background), and placement of details. When they are satisfied with their drawings, students should outline their pencil drawing with crayons to create a crayon resist. Students will use watercolors to fill in their drawing in their picture. Colors should correlate with those of the natural environment of the animal.

6. Review the writing of topic sentences, organizing sequential statements, note taking, and "place and location" words as found in the Open Court Comprehension and Language Arts Skills for this unit. Using the Hoffman painting, practice using location words by having students describe where objects are placed in the painting. Chart the responses of the students to serve as examples such as, "The hare is in the middle of the forest." Or, "The blue flower is above the branch on the left." On a piece of writing paper, ask students to write a few sentences that use descriptive words to explain the location of their animal in the environment that they painted. Students will publish the final sentence by typing it in computer lab or by writing in their best handwriting.

7. Students will then use their published sentence, their research, and their drawing as starting points for a three-paragraph essay that describes their animal, the environment in which it lives, and how it uses camouflage to survive. Students should use their painting as a reference for what is described in their narrative.

8. Students will revise their story by adding more descriptive details and improving sequence. Students may refer to their paintings and research to expand on details. After drafts are edited, students should word-process their essays using a computer and print them out.

9. Create a class "I Spy" book with students' paintings and essays. The introduction for each painting and essay group should state, "Where is the _____?" (Fill in the animal's name.) The next page will be a student's painting. Following each painting will be the printed sentence and essay by that student.

Hare in the Forest / Hoffmann
A Hare in the Forest, Hans Hoffmann, about 1585

Standards Addressed

Visual Arts Standards for California Public Schools
Grade 2

Artistic Perception
1.3 Identify the elements of art in objects in nature, the environment, and works of art, emphasizing line, color, shape/form, texture, and space.

Creative Expression
2.2 Demonstrate beginning skill in the use of art media, such as oil pastels, watercolors, and tempera.

Language Arts Standards for California Public Schools
Grade 2

Writing
1.1 Group related ideas and maintain a consistent focus.
1.4 Revise original drafts to improve sequence and provide more descriptive detail.
1.5 Organize presentations to maintain a clear focus.
1.6 Speak clearly and at an appropriate pace for the type of communication (e.g., informal discussion, report to class).
1.7 Recount experiences in a logical sequence.
1.9 Report on a topic with supportive facts and details.

Science Standards for California Public Schools
Grade 2

Life Sciences
2c. Many characteristics of an organism are inherited from the parents. Some characteristics are caused by, or influenced by, the environment.

"This is an extension to the Open Court Reader second grade unit on animal camouflage called "Look Again." Children have a tendency to color in their entire picture with crayons instead of leaving parts to watercolor for a resist effect. Make sure to discuss the animal's habitat (surroundings) in order for children to draw it accurately. Children will need good prompting questions to help them write their research report and the teacher will need to scaffold an appropriate format to follow." —Sue Tavetian