Grades/Level: Upper Elementary (3–5)
Subjects: Visual Arts, English–Language Arts, Music
Time Required: Long–Term Unit
Thirteen class periods
Author: Kelli Clarke, Fourth Grade Teacher
Robert Louis Stevenson Elementary School, Burbank Unified School District


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Lesson Plans

Lesson Overview

This series of lessons will provide students with an understanding of the Baroque period and help them identify decorative arts and architecture from that period. After studying Baroque paintings, furniture, architecture, and craft guilds, students will create a mixed-media sculpture inspired by Bernard van Risenburgh's Double Desk. Throughout the unit, students will reflect on their experiences in journals.

Learning Objectives

Students will be able to:
• recognize elements of art as they are represented in works from the Baroque period.
• identify Baroque works by recognizing common characteristics of the Baroque.
• write a descriptive essay about Louis XIV.
• work in groups representing different craft guilds to create a mixed-media sculpture.
• reflect on their experiences through journal entries.


• Reproduction of Double Desk by Bernard van Risenburgh II
• Reproduction of Pope Gregory XV by Guercino
• Reproduction of View of the Grand Canal and the Dogona by Bernardo Bellotto
• Reproduction of Cabinet on Stand by André-Charles Boulle
• Reproduction of Portrait of Louis XIV by Workshop of Hyacinthe Rigaud
• Additional images of the Palace of Versailles (Paris), St. Paul's Cathedral (London), the Trevi Fountain (Rome), and St. Peter's Basilica (Rome)
• Student Handout: "My Ultimate Desk Journal"
• Background information about the Baroque period from the following sources:
  — "The Triumph of the Baroque" on the National Gallery of Art website
  — "Musical Terms for the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries"
      on the Metropolitan Museum of Art website
  — "French Decorative Arts during the Reign of Louis XIV (1654–1715)"
      on the Metropolitan Museum of Art website
• Musical selections from the Baroque period:
  —The Four Seasons by Vivaldi
  —The Brandenberg Concertos by Bach
  —Canon in D major by Pachelbel
  —Water Music Suites by Handel
• Colored pencils or crayons
• White paper
• Chart paper and markers
• Teacher Handout: Sample Rotation Schedule
• Cardboard boxes
• Packing or masking tape
• Empty paper towel/wrapping paper rolls
• Brown construction paper
• Scissors
• Modeling compound such as Crayola® Model Magic®
• Gold acrylic paint
• Paint brushes
• Glue

Lesson Steps

Part 1: Introduction to the Baroque (two class periods)

1. Show a reproduction of Bernard van Risenburgh's Double Desk.

2. Generate a class discussion by posing questions about what the students think it is. Ask the students the following questions:
• What might the object be used for?
• What do you see that makes you say that?
• What kind of person might use it?
• What do you see that makes you say that?

After the discussion, briefly tell students about the work (e.g., it might have been considered the "ultimate desk" at the time).

3. Provide each student with the student handout "My Ultimate Desk," a student journal. On page 1 of their student journals, have students draw a picture of their own "ultimate desk." On page 2 of their student journals, have them write a description of their desk and compare it to the Double Desk.

4. To help students identify characteristics of the period, give students information about the Baroque period and show reproductions of furniture, art, and architecture, including Pope Gregory XV by Guercino, View of the Grand Canal and the Dogona by Bernardo Bellotto, and Cabinet on Stand by André-Charles Boulle as well as the additional images of the Palace of Versailles, St. Paul's Cathedral, the Trevi Fountain, and St. Peter's Basilica. Show students one of the featured Getty works of art. Ask students the following questions:
• What kinds of lines do you see in the works of art?
• What elements from nature can you find?
• Do the objects give you any clues about how people might have lived at the time the objects were created?

5. Post the reproductions of the remaining four featured Getty works of art in your classroom. Below each reproduction, list the three questions from step 4. Divide students into groups to meet near each reproduction. Give students five minutes to answer the questions. Ask each group to agree on a single adjective to describe their work of art and share this with the class.

6. Refer students back to their "ultimate desk" drawings and the Double Desk, and guide a discussion about who would use a piece of furniture like the Double Desk. Show a reproduction of Rigaud's Portrait of Louis XIV. Using a pair-share strategy, have students share observations about Louis XIV. Then on page 3 of their student journals, have students complete the "Interview with…" activity from the perspective of Louis XIV. Ask students to switch roles and synthesize the information they gathered during the "interview." On page 4 of their student journals, have students write a descriptive article about the subject as though they conducted an interview.

Part 2: Baroque Music Maps (one class period)

1. Refer students back to the reproductions of Baroque period art, furniture, and architecture, as well as their one-word adjectives for the works of art. Play two or three excerpts from the music of the period (see the "Materials" list). Ask students whether some of the words used to describe the works of art could be used to describe the music (e.g., fancy, swirly, grand, etc).

2. Using the overhead projector or a chart, demonstrate how to map the music with different lines to represent different sounds, tempos, and feelings the music might elicit. For example, zig-zag lines could represent a fast tempo; thick or dark lines in large shapes could represent loud music; and small, delicate swirls could represent softer or slower music.

3. Encourage students to compare and contrast this music to popular music that students know.

4. Tell students to complete the "Music Mapping" activity on page 5 of their journals. Using colored pencils or crayons, have them use the top half of the page to map an excerpt of a musical selection, and the bottom half for a second selection. Have students compare the mapping lines to the lines they found in the images earlier.

Part 3: Craft Guilds: Create a Desk (approximately eight class periods)

1. Introduce the definition of craft guilds from the Baroque period. Explain that a fancy piece of furniture such as the Double Desk would be commissioned through a shop owner, a marchand-mercier. It would then be sent out to different guilds to be built and finished according to the marchand-mercier's plan (like today's general contractors and craftspeople who build a house or building). Explain that royalty would have had their own furniture makers finish the process.

2. Explain to students the role of the marchand-mercier: The marchand-mercier would meet with the customer, assess needs, design the furniture, and contract different guilds to finish the piece. The guilds consisted of: the carcass builders, who built the main frame or structure of the piece; the veneer makers, who created the wood-inlay and other decorative veneers for the surface of the piece; and the gilt-bronze mount makers, who created gold-covered bronze trim pieces to decorate the piece. Each guild was dependent on the one that worked before it to make sure the project was accurate and consistent with the marchand-mercier's design.

3. Have students form guild groups with four students per group. These groups will stay together, but their task will change each day so they can experience each guild involved in the process (see the "Sample Rotation Schedule"). Remind students that guild members depended upon one another to complete their tasks successfully.

4. Direct students to page 6 in their journals and have them complete the "Desk Design Plan." Explain that the basic design is provided, but they will design the veneers and gilt-bronze mounts.

5. Following the design, the second activity is carcass-building. Each guild group will get a box (body), four empty paper towel rolls (legs), strong tape (packing or masking tape), and scissors. Their task is to attach the legs to the body, making sure the desk can stand by itself. Students should label the bottom of each box with a different letter of the alphabet (to facilitate the group rotations). On page 7 in their journals, have students reflect on the process under the heading "Carcass Building: Reflection."

6. Remind students of the elements of nature found in works of art they discussed during the first class period. Discuss the prevalent theme of nature in Baroque art. Have students go outside to look for natural items (e.g., leaves or flowers) that they can sketch as inspiration for the veneer designs. Have students sketch these things on page 8 of their student journals.

7. Tell the guild groups to discuss their veneer ideas and agree upon a design for their veneer that will be repeated on each side of the desk. Give each group a piece of plain white paper to draw their design. Encourage simplicity as the designs will be copied and then cut out. Collect designs and make four or five copies of each on brown construction paper. Return copies of the designs to guild groups.

8. Give each guild group enough brown construction paper to cover a "desk" (a lighter or darker brown than used for the veneer). Follow a rotation schedule so students are not attaching their veneers to the same desk they constructed during the carcass-building step. Each group will work on covering a desk with the brown paper, and then gluing their cut-out veneer designs. When finished, have students write their reflections on the veneer-making process on page 9 of their student journals.

9. Review the responsibilities of the mount makers. Demonstrate with Crayola® Model Magic® how to sculpt and form a mount over the edge of a table. Guild groups will meet to discuss where to place their mounts. Then have students create mounts for their desks. (Following the rotation schedule, each group should be working on a different desk.) Once the designs are finalized, let them dry overnight.

10. Have guild groups use gold acrylic paint to paint their mounts. Allow time to dry.

11. Instruct guild groups to use glue to attach their mounts to the desk. Then direct students to page 10 of their journals to write their reflections on the mount-making process.

Part 4: Guild Job Descriptions (two class periods)

1. Have students turn to page 11 in their journals to write a reflection of the overall process of building the desk. Tell them to identify which part of the process (or which guild job) they thought was most important. After students have written their reflections, take a class survey to identify how many students chose each of the guild jobs as their favorite. Encourage students to share why they chose the job they did.

2. Divide students into new groups, according to the jobs they chose as most important (larger groups may be divided into smaller groups). On page 12 in their journals under "Job Description Brainstorming," have students list characteristics, qualities, and skills that these guild members would need to be successful.

3. Then on page 13 of their student journals, have the groups work together to write "Job Descriptions" for their jobs.

Double Desk / van Risenburgh
Double Desk, Bernard van Risenburgh II, about 1750.
Gift of J. Paul Getty


Students will be assessed on:
• understanding elements of art, particularly line, through their discussions of various Baroque works.
• descriptive articles on Louis XIV based on their incorporating information from the "Interview with..." activity.
• understanding craft guilds' responsibilities through the role-playing activity, focusing on the cooperative aspect of the process.
• completeness of their journal entries describing the different activities.


Advertising: Following the job-description writing activity, each "job group" can design and create a sign advertising their guild. These signs can be hung from the ceiling above the desks to create a great display for an open house.

Math: Have students measure the paper used to cover the box, applying knowledge of measurement and geometry (area, angles, geometric solids), and mathematical reasoning (breaking a problem into simpler parts, comparing exact and approximate solutions).

Standards Addressed

Common Core Standards for English Language Arts

Grades 3–5

3.4 With guidance and support from adults, produce writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task and purpose.
3.5 With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, and editing.
4.4 Produce clear and coherent writing (including multiple-paragraph texts) in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
4.10 Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences.
5.4 Produce clear and coherent writing (including multiple-paragraph texts) in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
5.5 With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach. (Editing for conventions should demonstrate command of Language standards 1–3 up to and including grade 5.)

3.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 3 topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.
4.3 Ask and answer questions about information from a speaker, offering appropriate elaboration and detail.
5.3 Summarize the points a speaker or media source makes and explain how each claim is supported by reasons and evidence, and identify and analyze any logical fallacies.

3.1 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
3.2 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
3.6 Acquire and use accurately grade-appropriate conversational, general academic, and domain-specific words and phrases, including those that signal spatial and temporal relationships (e.g., After dinner that night we went looking for them).
4.3 Use knowledge of language and its conventions when writing, speaking, reading, or listening.
4.6 Acquire and use accurately grade-appropriate general academic and domain-specific words and phrases, including those that signal precise actions, emotions, or states of being (e.g., quizzed, whined, stammered) and that are basic to a particular topic (e.g., wildlife, conservation, and endangered when discussing animal preservation).
5.6 Acquire and use accurately grade-appropriate general academic and domain-specific words and phrases, including those that signal contrast, addition, and other logical relationships (e.g., however, although, nevertheless, similarly, moreover, in addition).

Visual Arts Content Standards for California State Public Schools

Grade 3
1.0 Artistic Perception
1.5 Identify and describe elements of art in works of art, emphasizing line, color, shape/form, texture, space, and value.

4.0 Aesthetic Valuing
4.1 Compare and contrast selected works of art and describe them, using appropriate vocabulary of art.

Grade 4
1.0 Artistic Perception
1.5 Describe and analyze the elements of art (color, shape/form, line, texture, space and value) emphasizing form, as they are used in the works of art and found in the environment.

3.0 Historical and Cultural Context
3.1 Describe how art plays a role in reflecting life (e.g. in photography, quilts, architecture).

4.0 Aesthetic Valuing
4.1 Describe how using the language of the visual arts helps to clarify personal responses to works of art.

Grade 5
1.0 Artistic Perception
1.3 Use their knowledge of all the elements of art to describe similarities and differences in works of art and in the environment.

3.0 Historical and Cultural Context
3.2 Identify and describe various fine, traditional, and folk arts from historical periods worldwide.

4.0 Aesthetic Valuing
4.2 Compare the different purposes of a specific culture for creating art.

English–Language Arts Content Standards for California Public Schools

Grade 3
1.0 Writing Strategies
1.1 Create a single paragraph:
a. Develop a topic sentence.
b. Include simple supporting facts and details.

2.0 Writing Applications
2.2 Write descriptions that use concrete sensory details to present and support unified impressions of people, places, things, or experiences.

Listening and Speaking
1.0 Listening and Speaking Strategies
1.7 Use clear and specific vocabulary to communicate ideas and establish the tone.

Grade 4
1.0 Writing Strategies
1.1 Select a focus, an organizational structure, and a point of view based upon purpose, audience, length, and format requirements.

2.0 Writing Applications (Genres and their Characteristics)
2.1 Write narratives:
a. Relate ideas, observations, or recollections of an event or experience.
b. Provide a context to enable the reader to imagine the world of the event or experience.
c. Use concrete sensory details.
d. Provide insight into why the selected event or experience is memorable.

Grade 5
1.0 Writing Strategies
1.2 Create multiple-paragraph expository compositions:
a. Establish a topic, important ideas, or events in sequence or chronological order.
b. Provide details and transitional expressions that link one paragraph to another in a clear line of thought.
c. Offer a concluding paragraph that summarizes important ideas and details.

Music Content Standards for California Public Schools

Grade 3
3.0 Historical and Cultural Context
3.1 Identify the uses of music in various cultures and time periods.
3.4 Identify differences and commonalities in music from various cultures.

4.0 Aesthetic Valuing
4.3 Describe how specific musical elements communicate particular ideas or moods in music.

5.0 Connections, Relationships, Applications
5.1 Identify the use of similar elements in music and other art forms (e.g., form, pattern, rhythm).

Grade 4
3.0 Historical and Cultural Context
3.2 Identify music from diverse cultures and time periods.
3.4 Compare musical styles from two or more cultures.

Grade 5
3.0 Historical and Cultural Context
3.2 Identify different or similar uses of musical elements in music from diverse cultures.
3.4 Describe the influence of various cultures and historical events on musical forms and styles.