Grades/Level: Lower Elementary (K–2), Upper Elementary (3–5)
Subjects: Visual Arts, English–Language Arts, ESL
Time Required: Single Class Lesson
1-hour class period
Author: J. Paul Getty Museum Education Staff

When Art Talks Contents

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Thirty-Second Look Activity (RTF, 248KB, 2pp.)

Lesson Overview

Students will identify new vocabulary using a work of art. They will generate a list of descriptors for that vocabulary using a texture/touch activity. They will then apply their new vocabulary, including adjectives, to a class poem about the textures they see in the painting.

Learning Objectives

Students will be able to:
• describe what they see and, as a class, build a list of new vocabulary.
• identify and articulate textures both implied and felt based on their observations of a work of art.
• apply new vocabulary to a class poem exercise.


• Reproduction of A Hare in the Forest, Hans Hoffmann
• Background Information about A Hare in the Forest
• Chart paper (optional)
• Markers (optional)
• Bags that include one object from nature (e.g., leaves, thistle, stick, grass, bark, earth, fur, etc.) (1 bag per 2 students)
• Student Handout: "Tactile Poem Template"
• Pens or pencils

Lesson Steps

1. Introduce the definition of habitat: a place where an animal or plant normally lives. It is often identified by a dominant plant form or physical characteristic.

2. Introduce and display the reproduction of A Hare in the Forest by Hans Hoffmann to the class. Prompt discussion with the following questions:
• What animals can you identify in this work of art?
• How would you describe the habitat or space they live in?
• When you think of this animal, is this the type of place you would imagine it would live?

3. On chart paper or on the board, list student responses in a word bank that has two columns, one for identification of objects they noticed in the painting, and one for adjectives (the adjectives column should be on the left, and the objects column on the right). Students will use words from the second column to record objects in the painting. If they cannot come up with the word in English, have students say the word in their own language. Call on other students to help when a student is having difficulty identifying or finding the word to identify an object or animal in the picture. You can also explore some of the differences between hares and rabbits in the extension activity at the end of this lesson.

4. Inform students that adjectives are words that describe something, such as an object (noun). Pass out the bags that have a texture for student pairs to feel. The set of class bags should include textures that correspond to objects in the painting, such as soft and furry items, a feather, different types of leaves from smooth to rough, a thistle, a stick, grass, bark, possibly some earth, etc. Hand out one bag to pairs of students and instruct them not to look inside. Then have the students reach inside their bag, feel the object, and describe its texture to their partner.

5. Next call on each pair to refer to the artwork and identify where they see an object or animal that might feel like the texture in their bag. When students think of an adjective describing the texture of an object in the painting, add it to the descriptor/adjective column in the word bank, next to the object it is describing; some objects will have more than one adjective associated with it. It also may be necessary to add the object to the identification column. Students may need help coming up with words, and other students could be called on to help.

6. Download, make copies of, and pass out the student handout "Tactile Poem Template" to each student, along with pencils or pens. As a class, review the poem template and fill in the descriptor words and objects that the students found in the work. Each student should fill in the vocabulary words from each column of the word bank listed on the board on their template.

The poem begins as in the example below:

In the painting A Hare in the Forest:

I feel a ____________ ____________.
                (adjective)          (noun)

7. Once the poem is collaboratively written, read it aloud as a class.

A Hare in the Forest/Hoffmann
A Hare in the Forest, Hans Hoffmann, about 1585


Students will be assessed based on their participation in the class discussion, sharing with their partner, and contribution to the class poem exercise.


Begin by reminding students about the definition of a habitat. When you think of a hare, is the habitat depicted in the painting the type of place in which you would imagine a hare would live?

You could use this opportunity to discuss the differences between rabbits and hares:

  • A hare is much larger than a rabbit and has longer hind legs and longer ears. When a hare is born, it has a full coat of fur, and its eyes are open. A mother hare has her young (called "leverets") on the open ground, and a hare can live on its own an hour after birth.
  • Rabbits are smaller, and their young, called "bunnies," are born hairless and blind. Since bunnies are born helpless, rabbits must create a nest of grass and stems with a layer of fur that a mother rabbit plucks from her own body. This is how a mother rabbit keeps her bunnies warm, hidden, and safe from predators.
  • Rabbits burrow in the ground and stay hidden during daylight hours, while hares stay on the surface among plants, and usually try to escape enemies by running. In the painting A Hare in the Forest, the hare is surrounded by the types of food it eats, such as bark, buds, small twigs, and shoots. As a class, research more of the differences between the two animals.

To introduce new vocabulary about textures, have students go out of the classroom to do texture rubbings. Have the students do rubbings based on the textures identified in A Hare in the Forest—leaves, bark, grasses, rocks, etc. Ask students to label the rubbings with the object from which they made their rubbing and a descriptor of the texture, such as bumpy, rough, etc.