Grades/Level: Lower Elementary (K–2)
Subjects: Visual Arts
Time Required: 2–Part Lesson
Two class periods
Author: J. Paul Getty Museum Education Staff

For the Classroom

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Lesson Overview

Students will examine and discuss the tapestry Chariot of Triumph and its symbols and create their own personal symbols for their own tapestry design.

Learning Objectives

Students should be able to:
• discuss the use of tapestries, in particular a portière and its function.
• analyze symbols on the tapestry and decide who and what they represent.
• create their own design for a tapestry using symbols that represent their identities.


• Image of Tapestry: Chariot of Triumph by the Gobelins Tapestry Manufactory
• 12 in. x 18 in. watercolor paper or heavy drawing paper
• Drawing pencils
• Watercolor palette
• Watercolor brushes

Lesson Steps

1. Click on the thumbnail of the image above for information and "Questions for Teaching" about the Chariot of Triumph tapestry.

2. Define symmetry for students and identify and discuss symmetrical patterns found in the tapestry.

3. Explain to students that they are going to create their own tapestry using symbols that represent their identities. Their tapestry design should also incorporate symmetry.

4. Discuss with students what symbols they could use that best represent their identities. It could be things that they are good at (for example, sports) or an animal that they are fond of. Remember, the symbols on the Chariot of Triumph tapestry are designed to pay tribute to the military victories of Louis XIV. Symbols such as the sun (representing the sun god Apollo and Louis as the Sun King) represent the king in this tapestry.

5. Discuss the coats of arms of France and Navarre. These are used to represent the territories under the rule of Louis XIV. The coat of arms of France was the three fleurs-de-lis ("flowers of the lily," the symbol of the French monarchy) on a blue background, while the coat of arms of Navarre, a region in the south of France near the border of Spain, is represented by double-linked chains on a red background.

6. Using 12 in. x 18 in. paper, have the students draw out their designs for a tapestry. Color can be added to their design using watercolors.

7. When students have finished their design, have them write a few sentences describing the symbols that they used and explaining what they represent in their tapestry design.


Students will be assessed based on their completion of the project and their inclusion of symbols that represent their identities, a symmetrical design, and their written description of their design and its meaning.


Discuss with students how long it would have taken to weave a tapestry that was 11 feet 4 1/2 inches high and 8 feet 9 1/4 inches wide. Tell students that one weaver produced about three square yards per year. For more information, read about the Gobelins Tapestry Manufactory.

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.
1.1 Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade 1 topics and text with peers and adults in small and larger groups.
1.4 Describe familiar people places, things, and events, with relative details expressing ideas and feelings more clearly.
2.3 Ask and answer questions about what a speaker says in order to clarify comprehension, gather information, or deepen understanding of a topic or issue.
2.4 Tell a story or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking audible in coherent sentences.

Visual Arts Content Standards for California Public Schools

Grade 2

2.0 Creative Expression
Creating, Performing, and Participating in the Visual Arts
Students apply artistic processes and skills, using a variety of media to communicate meaning and intent in original works of art.
2.5 Use symmetry (bilateral or radial) to create visual balance.
3.1 Explain how artists use their work to share experiences or communicate ideas.
3.2 Recognize and use the vocabulary of art to describe art objects from various cultures and time periods.

4.0 Aesthetic Valuing
Responding to, Analyzing, and Making Judgments About Works in the Visual Arts
Students analyze, assess, and derive meaning from works of art, including their own, according to the elements of art, the principles of design, and aesthetic qualities.
Derive Meaning
4.1 Compare ideas expressed through their own works of art with ideas expressed in the work of others.
4.3 Use the vocabulary of art to talk about what they wanted to do in their own works of art and how they succeeded.