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Learning to Look: Elements of Art MMR 2017-2018

Page history last edited by Julie Olson 2 years, 2 months ago



Learning to Look: Elements of Art (grades K-2)




60 minutes in length

5 stops



In this tour, students will discover how artists use line, shape, color, and texture to create works of art. Students will learn how artists across time, place, and cultures use these elements to communicate with the viewer. Recommended for grades K-2, this tour integrates the Common Core Standards for English Language Arts with the North Carolina Visual Arts standards.



  • Understand characteristics of the Elements of Art, including lines, shapes, colors, and textures

  • Interpret a work of art, using visual evidence to back up their ideas

  • Students engage in discussions around works of art, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly







Welcome students. Introduce them to the Mint Museum.


What do you know about art museums?

How do we act in a museum?


Let them know that they will be spending the next hour exploring some of the Elements of Art: line, shape, color, and texture. Share that the Elements of Art are the building blocks used to create art. Encourage students to consider that in every piece of artwork that we will look at today the artist has thought carefully about how these elements of art work together.


Explain how looking closely and deeply helps you notice more things. Inform students that they will be looking at each work of art silently before discussing the work as a group. Ask them to listen to and consider other students viewpoints and to raise their hand if they have something to share. Encourage everyone to participate in the discussions.



Let students know that throughout the tour they will be trying to create interpretations, or explain the meaning behind, works of art. Explain that interpretations of an artwork can grow and change as you continue to look and think more deeply. Add that they may be able to contribute to what is known about the artwork through careful looking. Acknowledge that people may have different interpretations of a picture and that is fine. Strengthen students’ understanding of the word interpretation by using it throughout the tour. For example, “Thank you Joey, for sharing with us your interpretation of this piece.”









Work of Art: Huipil, Faja, Corte, Cintas (Women’s Outfit of Blouse, Waist Wrap, Wrap Skirt, Hair Bands), Huipil, Faja, Corte, Cintas (Unmarried Young Woman’s Outfit of Blouse, Waist Wrap, Wrap Skirt, Hair Bands), Camisa, Faja, Pantalones (Male Outfit of Sleeved Shirt, Sash Belt, Trousers)

Goals:line, movement, vertical, horizontal, diagonal


A line is an identifiable path created by a point moving in space. Imagine that your finger is a pencil and draw a vertical line in the air. Encourage students to mimic you. Explain that, like a tree, a vertical line reaches for the sky. Now draw a sideways line, or a horizontal line. Try drawing diagonal, zigzag, wavy, curvy, and wiggly lines.


Let’s take a minute to look at this piece. What do you see?

What type of line do you see in this piece?

What words would you use to describe these horizontal lines? How do they make you feel? Compare with the vertical lines.

Activity:Find the line

Students draw lines (horizontal, vertical, diagonal, expressive, thick or thin, short or long) that they see in the pieces.





Work of Art: Kplekple Mask, for the Goli Masquerade

Goal: shape

Explain:Shape is a flat area surrounded by edges or an outline. Show or point out basic shapes (triangle, square, rectangle, and circle) in the room. Use hexagon and trapezoid with first and second graders.


Let’s take a minute to look at this work of art. What do you see?

What shapes can we find in this work of art?


  • Most of the shapes we’ve found are geometric shapes but there are other shapes that don’t have names - they are called organic shapes, like the kinds of shapes you would see in leaves, clouds, or people. Organic shapes are often rounded and irregular, unlike most geometric shapes. Ask students to be on the look-out for organic shapes as they walk through the museum.

  • This mask is used for the Baule “Goli” masquerade in Cote d’Ivoire. Goli is performed at the funerals of prominent men.

Activity:Create a Mask

Have students draw their own African mask using no more than 4 geometric shapes.







Work of Art: Queen Charlotteby Alan Ramsey

Goals: texture, portrait


Let’s take a minute to look. What do you see?

What do you think the queen’s clothing would feel like?


All objects have a physical texture. If we could touch this canvas, it would feel smooth and flat, but if Queen Charlotte stepped out of the painting and stood before us, the texture of her clothing would feel very different. Artists use color, line, and value (lightness or darkness of a color) to imply textures. The artist was able to use paint to make the textures look real to us.

Hands on: Queen Charlotte’s Texture Cards

Put these items in a bag. Instruct one student to reach into the bag and choose one item without looking at it or removing it from the bag. The student should use his or her best words to describe how this item feels. Instruct the other students in the group to identify an object in the painting that they think would feel the same as the item being described. Once a few students provide their responses, the student should take the object out of the touch bag and allow the other students to feel it. As a group, have the students reassess which item in the painting might feel the same way.








Work of Art: Sunny Day in Veniceby Henri Martin

Goals: color


Let’s take a moment to look. What do you notice about this work of art?

What colors do you see?

What words would you use to describe the color?

What time of day do you think it is? What season?








Work of Art: Vessel by Hiroshi Sueyoshi

Goals:texture, surface, material


Let’s take a minute to look at this work of art. What do you see?

What is the surface like on this piece?

What kind of textures can you see?

What material do you think this work is made of?















How do artists use color, shape, texture, and line?

Did you have a favorite work of art? Why?


Thank students for participating and encourage them to return to the Museum with their families.


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