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Exploring the Abstract

1st Grade Lesson Plan

Learning Objectives:
● (VA:Cr2.1.1a) Students will discover different techniques and uses for materials by experimenting
with and combining new mediums as they create abstract works of art using line, shape, and
color.
● (VA:Re7.2.1a ) Students will identify common elements in abstract works of art by comparing
several abstract pieces by various artists.
● (VA:Re7.2.1a ) Students will differentiate between abstract versus realistic genres of art by
analyzing several works of art and noting their differences and similarities.
● (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.1.4) Students will recall and list words or phrases that communicate
feelings by listening to a story and identifying terms that appeal to the emotions.
● (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.1.4) Students will use words/phrases that suggest feelings to make
connections between their artwork and how it expresses emotions by creating abstract works of
art that address a time when students felt very strong emotions.

Materials: Powerpoint presentation, Green by Laura Vaccaro, Niko Draws a Feeling by Robert Raczka,
whiteboard, elements of art posters, paper, rulers, pencils, erasers, stencils, tracers, colored pencils,
construction paper, crayons, markers, oil pastels, exit slips

Vocab: abstract, artistic elements, shape, line, color, mixed-media, realistic, emotion, overlapping,
repetition, pattern

Day 1
● “Today we’re going to be learning three new art words: shape, line, and color. Can anyone tell me
what these are?” Allow students to respond and ask questions, then show example on
Powerpoint.
● “Shape, line, and color can be found everywhere in our daily lives. Let’s read Green by Laura
Vaccaro. It’s a book all about the color different places we see the color green, how many
different types of green there are, and where we can find green in daily life. If you want a
challenge, try to count in your head how many different types of green we see in the book.”
● Read Green. “Did anyone count how many greens were in the book? Where do we see the color
green? Let’s look for examples of shape, line, and color in the classroom; raise your hand if you
see one that you’d like to share with the class. Who can point out a line they see in the room?
Who sees a shape? What colors do you see in the room?” Make list on whiteboard.
● “Today we’re going to use colored pencils and a variety of other materials like stencils, tracers,
rulers, etc. to experiment making shape, line, and color.”Demo using materials. “Take your time
experimenting and using these materials. Think about how you can combine shape, line, and
color, and how you can use tools in different ways. Practice with overlapping, repetition, etc.
Watch how I can layer colors with my colored pencil or press harder to make it darker. You have
the rest of the class to experiment. If you discover something cool feel free to share it with your
neighbor. Do you feel like you know what you need to do in art class today?”
● Students have work time for the rest of the class.
● Cleanup. “Please put your artwork and materials back on the supply table. Make sure your name
is on the back or we won’t know whose is whose. Pencil and colored pencil bins can go back on
the shelf, then come sit on the carpet.” Have students fill out exit slips.
● “Who can tell me what we learned about in art class today?” Let students respond/review, then
fill out exit slips and line up.
Day 2
● · “Can anyone tell me what we talked about last week in art class?” Have students review
shape, line and color. “A lot of artists use shape, line and color in their work, but some artists
ONLY use shape, line, and color—they are called abstract artists. Does anyone know what
abstract art is?” Allow students to guess and answer the question.
● “Abstract art is a type of art that hints at real objects, people, etc. but is not very realistic (like a
photograph for example), and it can show us how an artist thinks and feels. First, let’s look at
some images and you can tell me if you think it’s realistic or abstract.” Show example images
then have students identify realistic vs abstract paintings. “Where do we see examples of our 3
art words in these paintings?” Let students come to the front and point out shape, line, and color.
● “Does anyone recognize anything familiar in these pieces? A person, animal, object, etc.? How
do they make you feel? Abstract art is special because we might all see or feel different things
about a single work of art. Why do you think this is?” Allow students to respond. “Even though
you are all 1st graders and have some similar interests, we’re not all the same. You all have
different likes and dislikes, different experiences, and different feelings. Sometimes we might feel
the same way as someone else, but not all the time. The way the artists use these three elements
can change the way each person feels about a work of art.”
● “Today we’re going to make work that is either abstract or realistic. I want you to make one
abstract piece and one realistic piece. You can make an abstract and a realistic work of art by
experimenting with some of the materials we practiced with during the last class. I’ve also put out
paper scraps and paint for you to experiment with. Does anyone what it’s called when I use more
than one material to make a work of art?” Let students guess. “This is called mixed-media!”
● “When making each piece, remember to think about shape, line, and color.” Demo making an
abstract piece with all materials.
● “I’m also going to make a realistic piece. What kinds of things have we seen artists put in their
pieces? Do you think they make works of art based on what they like? What kinds of things could
you draw to make a realistic work of art? Yourself? Your family? A pet? Your favorite food? You
could put anything in your piece!”
● “Take the rest of the class to experiment with your materials and explore abstract versus realistic
art. Do you feel like you know what you need to do in art class today?”
● Students have work time for the rest of the class.
● Cleanup. “Please put your artwork and materials back on the supply table. Make sure your name
is on the back or we won’t know whose is whose. Pencil and colored pencil bins can go back on
the shelf, then come sit on the carpet.”
● Have students fill out exit slips, then let three students quickly share their favorite art piece. “We
have enough time for three students to show us one piece that they made today; you’ll each get
about 1 minute to tell the class if your piece is realistic or abstract and one thing you like about it.”
Choose three students to share based on good behavior and being respectful when classmates
are talking.
● “Who can tell me what we learned about in art class today?” Let students respond/review, then
line up.
Day 3
● “Can anyone tell me what we talked about last week in art class? Who can remind us what
abstract art is? It sometimes hints at something real (using the three art words we learned about)
but is not realistic like a photograph. What were the three art words that we talked about?”
● Review images from last week. “Raise your hand if you can show me an example of line, color, or
shape in this piece.” Let students come to the front to point out these three elements of art. “Is it
realistic or abstract?”
● “Sometimes artists try to use their artwork to express feelings and not necessarily how something
looks. Today we’re going to read a book called Niko Draws a Feeling, which is all about how
artists use their feelings in their art.” Read Niko Draws a Feeling. Discuss Niko Draws a Feeling
and how artists use their art to express their emotions and thoughts. “What kinds of things did
Niko draw? How did Niko show his feelings through his art? Was his art abstract or realistic? How
did Niko feel when other kids didn’t understand his artwork? Have you ever felt this way?”
● “Let’s look at Niko’s artwork once more. What materials do you think he might have used to make
his artwork?”
● “Let's try making art in the way that Niko does—let's experiment with these art materials (colored
pencils, markers, and crayons) using just colors and lines, to see if we can communicate a feeling
or emotion.”
● Exercise 1: “Think of a time when you felt really strong feelings. Were you super happy or
excited? Were you scared? Were you sad? Were your feelings hurt? Let’s try to express these
feelings with the materials like Niko did.” When finished, allow students to pair and share.
● Exercise 2: “Think of a time when you felt a different strong emotion.” Pair and share.
● “We’re going to do some reflecting on our artwork, so I’m going to call you all up by table and I
want you to bring your favorite piece to the supply table.” Record students explaining what
feelings are being conveyed in their artwork using my prompts/questions.
● Exercise 3: “For the rest of the class period, feel free to start a third drawing or continue working
on the ones you’ve already started. Remember to think of a new strong emotion that you’ve felt
and try to show that in your artwork.”
● Cleanup. “Please put your artwork and materials back on the supply table. Make sure your name
is on the back or we won’t know whose is whose. Pencil and colored pencil bins can go back on
the shelf, then come sit on the carpet.”
● Let three (or more) students quickly share their favorite art piece. “We have enough time for three
students to show us one piece that they made and the feeling that goes with it.” Choose students
to share based on good behavior and being respectful when classmates are talking/presenting.
● “Who can tell me what we learned about in art class today?” Let students respond/review, then
line up.