Grades/Level: Adult Learners
Subjects: Visual Arts, English–Language Arts, ESL
Time Required: Single Class Lesson

Author: Getty Museum Education Staff

For the Classroom

Curriculum Home
Lesson Plans
Still Life Overview and Vocabulary
Decorative Arts Overview and Vocabulary
Photography Overview and Vocabulary

Lesson Overview

Students learn about and discuss decorative arts objects and their functions.

Learning Objectives

• Students will identify different types of decorative arts objects.
• Students will indicate the uses for which various objects were made.
• Students will learn the difference between aesthetic uses and functional uses.
• Students will use new vocabulary.


• Image of Régence Room designed by Jacques Gaultier and Armand-Claude Mollet
• Image of Writing and Toilette Table by Jean-François Oeben
• Looking at Decorative Arts Student Worksheet 4
• Looking at Decorative Arts Student Worksheet 5
• Picture dictionary or realia or cutouts of rugs, chairs, tables, teapots, etc. (optional)

Lesson Steps

• Explain to students that people surround themselves with objects that serve both functional and aesthetic purposes.

• Display Régence Room.

• Point out the objects that are present in the room. Introduce the vocabulary to students.

• Employ early production strategies to help students use this vocabulary:

1. Ask yes/no questions (Is this furniture?)
2. Ask or questions (Is this furniture or ceramics?)
3. Ask wh- questions (What objects are displayed on the furniture?)
4. Make open-ended statements (The textiles are . . .)

• Write the vocabulary on the board.

• Ask students to explain the functional uses of the different objects. (For example, the chair is used for sitting, the desk is used for writing, the clock is used for telling time, etc.)

• Explain to students that objects also have an aesthetic function. (For example, to decorate, to bring beauty or pleasure, to display wealth, etc.) The aesthetic value of an object depends on a number of factors, including its authorship (who made it?), design (what does it look like?), history (who owned it?), materials (what is it made of?), rarity (how many were made?), and technique (how was it made?).

• Ask students to speculate about the aesthetic uses of the objects in the room.

• For reinforcement of the vocabulary and concepts, use Student Worksheet 4. Distribute the worksheet to students and have them fill in the blanks with the correct vocabulary words.

• For a more discussion-oriented activity, use Student Worksheet 5. Distribute the worksheet to students. Display Writing and Toilette Table. Have students speculate as to the uses of this object. (The Writing and Toilette Table could be used as a table, for decoration [the tabletop is decorated with a still life], for writing, and for grooming oneself [toilette].)

• Using realia or a picture dictionary, teach the names of different forms of decorative arts (for example, rug, screen, teapot, etc.) and their functions (for example, using a rug to cover the floor, using a screen to divide a room, using a teapot to serve tea, etc.).

• Using two everyday objects (for example, a Styrofoam coffee cup and a ceramic coffee cup), have students think of questions that can be used to compare the objects' aesthetic value (for example, which material is more permanent, which design is better, etc.).

Régence Room / Gaultier and Mollet
Régence Room, Jacques Gaultier and Armand-Claude Mollet, about 1725