Grades/Level: Lower Elementary (K–2)
Subjects: Visual Arts, English–Language Arts
Time Required: 3–5–Part Lesson
Four 45-minute periods
Author: Monette Morgan, Second Grade Teacher
Community Magnet School, Los Angeles Unified School District


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Lesson Plans

Lesson Overview

Students will study the pastel drawing Waiting by Edgar Degas and discuss the story Degas may be telling through the body language and clothing of the people in the work of art. They will then create a pastel drawing depicting a time when they had to wait for something and compose a brief narrative based on this memory.

Learning Objectives

Students should be able to:
• tell a story inspired by details depicted in a work of art.
• create a pastel drawing that tells a story.
• describe the setting, characters, and event depicted in their artwork by writing a brief narrative.
• compare and contrast their own artworks to the pastel Waiting by Edgar Degas.


• Image of Waiting by Edgar Degas
• Four sheets of large chart paper
• Four postcard-sized reproductions of Waiting by Edgar Degas
• Student Handout: Graphic Organizer
• Light-colored construction paper
• Oil pastels
• Ruled writing paper
• Blank copy paper

Lesson Steps

1. Discuss Waiting by Edgar Degas with the class by asking students the following questions:
• Who do you see? What do you notice about the way they are dressed?
• What are they doing? How do you know? What do you notice about the way they are sitting? What are they doing with their hands?
• What do you think is the relationship between the two women? Why do you think so?
• What do you think each woman is thinking?
• Where do you think the women are? Why do you think so?
• Does anything you see happening in this work of art remind you of an event in your life?

Chart students' responses on four different sheets of large chart paper, organizing them into four categories: "Setting," "Characters," "How do they feel?", and "What are they doing?"

2. Tell students that Edgar Degas is the artist who made the work. Explain that Degas liked to draw and paint ballerinas, but did not always depict the dancers when they were looking their most graceful. He liked to draw and paint them during rehearsal rather than when they were performing on stage. Ask students to describe how depicting dancers on stage would be different from depicting them during rehearsal. Ask them to speculate about why the artist would have been interested in painting dancers this way. Explain that the title of the artwork is Waiting. Ask each student to consider what they think the women are waiting for and have them write down three possibilities.

3. Divide students into groups of 4 or 5. Give each group a postcard-sized reproduction of Waiting. Instruct students to work in their small groups to discuss what they think is happening in the image. Tell students that they should assign roles to each person in their small group: one student should be a recorder, one student should be the storyteller, and the rest of the students should be the story creators. Encourage the story creators to use their imaginations to come up with one story about the two women in the artwork. Remind them to describe the characters and setting in their story with specific details.

4. After students are finished devising a story, ask the storyteller in each group to share their story with the entire class.

5. Ask students to think of a time when they were waiting for something. Where did they wait? Who were they with? How did they feel? What did they do to pass the time? What else do they remember about that day? Pass out construction paper and oil pastels and tell students to create a pastel drawing inspired by their memory. Explain that Degas used pastels to create Waiting.

6. When students have completed their drawings, tell them they will each write a personal narrative inspired by their own drawing. Just as they did in small groups, each student should describe the characters and setting in their story with specific details. First pass out the graphic organizer. Tell students to look at the details in their artwork and write down all the details that describe the setting and characters, as well as how they felt and what they did to pass the time. Can they think of any more details about the day? If so, instruct them to add those details to their graphic organizers.

7. Pass out writing paper and pencils. Tell students to write four complete sentences about their experience of waiting.

8. Tell students to compare and contrast their works of art with Waiting by Edgar Degas. Pass out blank copy paper and have them draw a Venn diagram on their paper. Instruct students to work with a partner. Have pairs choose one of their drawings to compare and contrast with Degas' work of art. They should work with their partner to write down everything they see that is similar and different in the two works of art. Pairs should then complete the same activity using the other student's artwork. Instruct students to share their findings with the class.

Waiting / Degas
Waiting, Edgar Germain Hilaire Degas, about 1882. Owned jointly with the Norton Simon Art Foundation, Pasadena


Students will be assessed on their ability to depict setting, characters, action, and feelings in their artworks and narratives. Their narratives will also be assessed by their ability to write in complete sentences. Students will also be assessed on the accuracy of their Venn diagrams used to compare and contrast student artworks to Waiting by Edgar Degas.

Standards Addressed

Common Core Standards for English Language Arts

Grades K–2

Informational Text
K.9 With prompting and support, identify basic similarities in and differences between two texts on the same topic (e.g., in illustrations, descriptions, or procedures).
1.9 Identify basic similarities in and differences between two texts on the same topic (e.g., in illustrations, descriptions, or procedures).
2.9 Compare and contrast the most important points presented by two texts on the same topic.

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.
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.3 Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to narrate a single event or several loosely linked events, tell about the events in the order in which they occurred, and provide a reaction to what happened.
1.3 Write narratives in which they recount two or more appropriately sequenced events, include some details regarding what happened, use temporal words to signal event order, 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 2

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

3.0 Historical and Cultural Context
3.1 Explain how artists use their work to share experiences or communicate ideas.

4.0 Aesthetic Valuing
Derive Meaning
4.1 Compare ideas expressed through their own works of art with ideas expressed in the work of others.

Language Arts Standards for California Public Schools

Grade 2

3.0 Literary Response and Analysis
3.1 Compare and contrast plots, settings, and characters presented by different authors.

2.0 Writing Applications (Genres and Their Characteristics)
2.1 Write brief narratives based on their experiences:
b. Describe the setting, characters, objects, and events in detail.

Written and Oral English Language Conventions
1.0 Written and Oral English Language Conventions Sentence Structure
1.1 Distinguish between complete and incomplete sentences.

Listening and Speaking
1.0 Listening and Speaking Strategies
Organization and Delivery of Oral Communication
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.
1.8 Retell stories, including characters, setting, and plot.

Listening and Speaking
2.0 Speaking Applications (Genres and Their Characteristics)
2.1 Recount experiences or present stories:
a. Move through a logical sequence of events.
b. Describe story elements (e.g., characters, plot, setting).

"Students came up with incredible stories for Waiting… Students described setting and events very well. They had more trouble describing characters. They wrote how the characters felt, but not exactly who they were… Creating their story in picture form first seemed to help them solidify and articulate their ideas. The Venn diagram certainly met my expectations. They really could see what was similar and different between their own artworks and Waiting."
—Monette Morgan