Grades/Level: Lower Elementary (K–2)
Subjects: Visual Arts, English–Language Arts
Time Required: Single Class Lesson
One 60-minute class period, with follow-up lesson
Author: Elizabeth Cervantes, Limited Contract Teacher
Carlos Santana Arts Academy, Los Angeles Unified School District
Karen Martinez, Second Grade Teacher
Carlos Santana Arts Academy, Los Angeles Unified School District


Curriculum Home
Lesson Plans
See All Student Work

Lesson Overview


Using a "Thirty-Second Look" activity, students will look closely at and describe the painting A Centennial of Independence. The students will read their ideas and note line, shape, and other details. Then students will create a favorite outdoor memory inspired by the painting, using crayons and the elements of art to guide their work. They will also make connections to the theme of "teamwork."

Learning Objectives

Students will be able to:
• observe and name details of the painting as well as line and shape in the painting.
• read sentences describing details of the painting and elements of art in the artwork.
• create a favorite outdoor memory inspired by the painting, using crayons, white drawing paper, blue paper, and green paper.
• write a sentence about their artwork.


• Reproduction of A Centennial of Independence by Henri Rousseau
"Thirty-Second Look" activity
• Computer, projector, white board, or document reader
• Story about teamwork (e.g., "Teamwork" unit in the California Treasures textbook) (optional)
• 8 1/2 x 11–inch white drawing paper
• 1/2 sheet of blue construction paper; 1/2 sheet of green construction paper (cut in landscape orientation)
• Glue sticks
• Crayons or colored pencils
• Teacher Resource: "Detail of A Centennial of Independence"

Lesson Steps

1. Display the reproduction of the painting A Centennial of Independence and introduce the artitist who created the painting, Henri Rousseau. Adapt the "Thirty-Second Look" activity to use with the painting. Have students observe the reproduction of the artwork for 30 seconds and describe details they remember. Also, ask students to identify two elements of art—lines and shapes—they see in the painting. Tell students to describe what kinds of lines and shapes they see. Have them take turns reporting their findings in a sentence:

    "I saw (or noticed) __________."

Record students' responses on the board under one of two categories: Details or Elements of Art.

2. Display the reproduction of the painting again and give students the opportunity to look more closely. Ask students if they see anything else in the painting that they did not see before. Next, ask if any of their earlier responses should be corrected. Have them read their earlier responses on the board. Ask them to verify if what they saw is actually in the painting. Students may give a thumbs up to indicate "yes"; they may shrug to indicate "I'm not sure"; or they may shake their heads to indicate "no." Also, point out an important line in the painting—the horizon line.

3. Encourage students to look at the artwork more closely. Ask them the following questions:

  • What's going on in this painting? What do you see that makes you say that?
  • What are the figures doing? What do you see that makes you say that?

4. Have students participate in a Think-Pair-Share activity. Assign student partners. Tell them to take turns asking their partners and responding to the following questions:

  • What's going on in this painting? What do you see that makes you say that?
  • What are the figures doing? What do you see that makes you say that?

5. Next, ask students how A Centennial of Independence connects to the theme of "teamwork." You may also wish to connect to a story the students read previously that is related to the theme of teamwork. Ask them where in the artwork they see people doing something that requires teamwork.

6. Tell students they will each create drawings of their own memory of working in a team to do something outdoors. Ask the class to share ideas of outdoor activities that require teamwork (e.g., playing a team sport, playing in a marching band).

7. Pass out to students the white drawing paper, 1/2 sheet of blue construction paper, 1/2 sheet of green construction paper, glue sticks, and crayons or colored pencils.

8. First, students will create the background for their drawings. Remind students that the sky and ground meet at the horizon line. You may wish to use hand motions to reinforce student learning about the horizon line by moving your right hand in an arc up and above the head to demonstrate the sky, and moving your left hand from below the waist to demonstrate land. Have both hands meet to demonstrate the horizon. Demonstrate how to create a horizon line by taking the 1/2 sheet of green paper and the 1/2 sheet of blue paper, and then joining them together at the horizon. Tell students the green paper should be placed as the bottom sheet. Allow students to glue the pieces of colored paper onto the white paper.

9. Inform students that they will now add people to their artwork. Have them first look at the reproduction of A Centennial of Independence for inspiration. Then display the detail of the figures in the foreground of the painting (see the Teacher Resource). Point out the shapes in the figures, such as ovals for heads and rectangles for legs. Explain that they can create a figure by using basic shapes.

10. Ask students if they can see the entire face of a person in the detail, or if they see only a profile. Then demonstrate how to draw a profile of a face while saying: "First out at the forehead, then in at the eyes, out at the nose, in and out at the lips, out at the chin, and in at the neck." Direct the students to trace the profile of their own faces while using the same words and motions.

11. Model how to create a figure using basic shapes and "thinking aloud" while demonstrating. For example, you might say, "I am drawing an oval for the head, a short rectangle for the neck, a larger rectangle for the torso, and four thinner rectangles for the arms and legs."

12. Remind the class that we know the figures in the painting are working together to dance during a celebration because they are all holding hands and dancing around a tree, and there are music and colorful flags for decorations. Then select one of the examples of teamwork written on the board and show students how to draw "clues" that will show the activity being depicted. For example, students could draw a basketball hoop and basketball or musical instruments.

13. Have students use the crayons or colored pencils to draw the people on the green and blue backgrounds of their drawings. Encourage them to add clues that will show the kind of activity that the people are doing together.

14. Remind students to write their first and last name in the bottom right corner on the front of their artworks. They should also give their art work a title.

15. Next, have students write a sentence about their work of art. They can use the following sentence frame: "_______________ use teamwork to ______________." You may wish to add the sentences below the artworks or attach them to the back.

16. Display students' artworks around the room.

A Centennial/Rousseau
A Centennial of Independence, Henri Rousseau, 1892


When the students have completed their work, look at a variety of the finished artworks with the whole class, and evaluate the work together, based on whether each includes the following:
• An example of teamwork that takes place outside
• People made up of a variety of shapes and lines
• A horizon line
• A sentence describing how the people use teamwork
• A title and the artist's name


Create a classroom-wide mural showing teamwork by having students each draw one large figure on butcher paper. Cut and paste the figures onto a large wall-sized blue-and-green bulletin board. Students add other details after the figures have been glued onto the bulletin board background.

Standards Addressed

Visual Arts Content Standards for California State Public Schools

Grade One
1.0 Artistic Perception
1.3 Identify the elements of art in works of art, emphasizing line, color, shape/form.

English–Language Arts Content Standards for California Public Schools

Grade One
Written and Oral English Language Conventions
1.1 Write and speak in complete, coherent sentences.

English–Language Development Standards for California Public Schools

Levels 2 and 3
Listening and Speaking
LS 4 Ask and answer questions using phrases or simple sentences.

"I was able to use the lesson with first- and second-grade students, and the students were able to make oral, written, and drawn personal connections to the art and to the themes."
—Elizabeth Cervantes