Third and fourth grade students are very social and feel a strong need to belong to a peer group. They are eager to please and cooperate with a teacher, but can also work independently. They have begun to develop the visual acuity to recognize details and to understand how objects are depicted in two dimensions. As a result, their drawings will include greater detail than those of younger children. They can see the difference between two- and three-dimensional space, but may not be able to represent the third dimension themselves. Advanced students will begin to experiment with concepts related to three-dimensional rendering such as color and size difference, overlapping, and one-point perspective.

These students find realistic works of art easier to understand than abstract ones. They understand and experiment with composition, and recognize symmetry and asymmetry. They can also distinguish between genres of art such as portrait, landscape, and still life.

When looking at works of art, these students want to know why and how things were made, how long it took to make them, and, if functional, how they work.

When looking at a work of art, students are able to:

  • discuss differences and similarities in form and shape of body parts and architectural elements.
  • identify three-dimensional forms such as cubes, spheres, and cones.
  • find examples of line repetition and pattern.
  • understand viewpoint, such as "bird's eye" (something depicted as if from a very high vantage point) and "worm's eye" (something depicted as if from a very low vantage point).
  • explain basic perspective using foreground, middle ground, and background.
  • identify genres such as portrait, still life, and landscape; and media such as marble, paint, photography, wood, etc.

Suggested Lessons

New Forms from Old
Buildings, Buildings Everywhere

Suggestions for Discussion
Students at this age like to talk and listen. They are able to interpret and speculate about meaning, interact as a group, and respond to questions. Thus, discussions work well at this age. Independent discussion of a specific idea in small groups can also be effective. Discussions in which students articulate how a work of art makes them feel and what they like or do not like about it will build critical thinking skills and vocabulary.

Suggestions for Art Production
Manipulative media, such as weaving and clay, help refine small muscle growth, which leads to greater control in handling tools. Group projects like murals and quilts can be successful with this age group because they reinforce social connections and offer a sense of belonging to a group.

Two-dimensional production:
Students at this age like to create works of art from their own stories and imaginations. Pairing a writing assignment with an art assignment will make this connection. Students are ready to practice basic skills for representing three dimensions, such as single-point perspective or adjusting size to pictorial space (large in foreground, small in background).

Three-dimensional production:
Art projects such as origami, macramé, beadwork and jewelry making, and papier-mâché satisfy students' interest in how objects are made and refine fine motor skills.