Grades/Level: Lower Elementary (K–2)
Subjects: Visual Arts, English–Language Arts
Time Required: Single Class Lesson
45 Minutes
Author: Michele Weiner, First Grade Teacher
Haskell Elementary School, Los Angeles Unified School District


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Lesson Plans

Lesson Overview

Students participate in a "thirty-second look," followed by a class discussion about Jan Brueghel's painting The Entry of the Animals into Noah's Ark. Students then use description words and complete sentences to write about their favorite animal in the painting; draw the animal using line, color, and shape; and present their work to the class.

Learning Objectives

Students should be able to:
• identify and use shape, color, line, and texture in artworks.
• use descriptive words and complete sentences when writing.
• use grammar, sentence structure, punctuation, and capitalization correctly.


Thirty-Second Look activity
• Chart paper
• Paper that is blank on the top half for drawing, and lined on the bottom half for writing.
• Pencils, crayons, and colored pencils

Lesson Steps

1. Explain to the students that they will look at an artwork for 30 seconds and then it will be taken away and they will have to try to remember what they saw. Follow the steps for the "Thirty-Second Look" activity.

2. Following the activity, discuss the picture with the class in detail, focusing on shape, color, and texture. Explain that this artwork is a landscape because it is in an outdoor setting. Ask students the following questions, and have them use as many adjectives as possible when answering:
• What do you see in the work of art in front of you?
• What parts of it do you like best? Why?
• Look at the colors. What color did you see first? What other colors do you see?
• Do you see shapes in this work of art? What types? Where do you see these shapes?
• Where do you see texture? How would you describe the texture you see? How does the artist use line and color to make the paint look like soft fur, hard shell, rough skin, or stiff feathers? What makes you say this? What is your evidence?

3. Instruct students to choose their favorite animal from the painting. Students will share this choice with a partner in class and explain their reasons for their choice by speaking in complete sentences and using describing words. (e.g., "I like the leopard because it is spotted and looks playful.") Once students have shared with their partner, have one or two volunteers verbally tell the class what their favorite animal is and explain why, using a complete sentence and description words. The teacher should write their answers on chart paper or the board to model what is expected of the students.

4. Students should understand that complete sentences and description words are the goals for this exercise of writing about their animals. Pass out pieces of paper that are blank on the top half and lined for writing on the bottom half. Have students work independently and write 3–4 sentences (depending on their level) describing their favorite animal and explaining why it is their favorite in the bottom half of the sheet of paper. Students should include at least one sentence that describes the texture of the animal's skin, fur, or feathers.

5. Once they have completed their writing, students should draw their animal in the top half of the sheet of paper. Instruct students to focus on shape and color in their drawings. Students should try to replicate the texture of the animal's skin, fur, or feathers using color and line. Students may look at the original painting as a reference.

6. When the drawings are finished, have students present their work to the class and share their writing and drawing. Have them describe how they used line, color, shape, and texture in their drawings.

Noah's Ark / Brueghel the Elder
The Entry of the Animals into Noah's Ark, Jan Brueghel the Elder, 1613

Standards Addressed

Common Core Standards for English Language Arts

Grades K–2

K.1 Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about kindergarten topics and text with peers and adults in small and larger groups.
K.4 Describe familiar people places, things, and events, with prompting and support, provide additional detail.
1.3 Ask and answer questions about what a speaker says in order to gather additional information or clarify something that is not understood.
1.6 Produce complete sentences when appropriate to task and situation. (See grade 1 Language standards 1 and 3 for specific expectations.)
2.1 Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade 2 topics and text with peers and adults in small and larger groups.
2.4 Tell a story or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking audible in coherent sentences.

K.2 Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to compose informative/explanatory texts in which they name what they are writing about and supply some information about the topic.
1.2 Write informative/explanatory texts in which they name a topic, supply some facts about the topic, and provide some sense of closure.
2.4 With guidance and support from adults, produce writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task and purpose. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 1–3 above.)
2.10 Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences.

Visual Arts Standards for California Public Schools

Grade 1

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

Creative Expression
2.1 Use texture in two-dimensional and three-dimensional works of art.
2.7 Use visual and actual texture in original works of art.

Historical and Cultural Context
3.2 Identify and describe various subject matter in art (e.g., landscapes, seascapes, portraits, still life).

Aesthetic Valuing
4.1 Discuss works of art created in the classroom, focusing on selected elements of art (e.g., shape/form, texture, line, color).
4.4 Select something they like about their work of art and something they would change.

Language Arts Standards for California Public Schools

Grade 1

Writing Strategies
1.2 Use descriptive words when writing.

Listening and Speaking
1.5 Use descriptive words when speaking about people, places, things, and events.

Writing Application
2.2 Write brief expository descriptions of a real object, person, place, or event, using sensory details.

"The students were quite excited and enthusiastic about the 'Thirty-Second Look.' I explained it as a memory/thinking game. The students were anxious to name the animals they remembered seeing. The students also liked sharing their work during what we call 'writing seminar.' This lesson would work great during the 'Animals' unit in the Open Court Reading 2000, Level 1. I waited too long, unfortunately, but next time I will do this lesson during that time."
—Michele Weiner