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Lesson Title:

Introduction to Still Life Lesson - Part 1

Focus on Visual Perception of Line and Shape; Contour Line Drawings of Still Life Objects (Part I in three part series)
Author: Lucy Andrus
Grade/Age Level: Elementary and Early Middle School
Written here for:
3rd Grade Inclusion Class

Conceptual Basis For This Lesson:

Unit/Theme, Relation of Lesson to the Unit, Major Concepts to be Learned:

This lesson will introduce a three part series on drawing as part of our unit, The Language of Visual Art, as the children begin drawing objects for their still life compositions. The focus is on visual perception of line and shape, as children learn to develop their aesthetic eye. “Seeing with the eye of an artist” will develop the ability to render objects through perception and understanding of the lines and shapes that compose them. In the process, development of eye-hand coordination is enhanced. The still life series will also develop basic skills needed for elementary art criticism (description and formal analysis). For this lesson, the children will study and draw desired objects for their still life images, color them, and cut them out.

Relation to Life:

The art elements are seen in every object in the environment, and developing our abilities to perceive them enhances our abilities to comprehend the variety of visual symbol systems that pervade our world. Awareness of the principles of art helps to develop general skills that allow us to make sense of incoming information and organize visual stimuli into meaningful constructs.

Learning Standards

Goals Specific to Lesson/Unit (reflecting NYS standards, & targeted learning areas. See Abbreviation Key at end):

The students will:

  1. Increase awareness of basic art elements (AC, AP, Std. 3, A/C)
  2. Develop awareness of how artists use these elements to compose images (AH, AC, Std. 3)
  3. Cultivate visual literacy by increasing awareness of these basic visual elements in everyday environments (AE, A/C)
  4. Develop aesthetic sensibilities (AE, AC, Std. 3)
  5. Develop perceptual/motor skills: eye-hand coordination, visual tracking (AP, Std.1, P/M)
  6. Increase attending skills (W/S)
  7. Develop descriptive language skills (AC, Std. 3, C)
  8. Increase cooperative behavior skills (W/S, S)
  9. Develop memory recall skills (A/C)

Performance Objectives for Observational Assessment (reflecting goals):

The students will be able to:


  • Name/recall the basic elements of line, shape, color, texture Goal 1, 9
  • Describe/recall at least three characteristics of a line Goals 1, 7, 9
  • Name a line and shape seen in the immediate environment Goal 3
  • Define geometric and free-form shape Goal 1
  • Define the terms: horizontal, vertical, diagonal Goals 1, 7, 8
  • Describe one use of line and shape by an artist in the exemplars Goal 2, 7
  • Attend to the discussion without disruption Goal 6, 8


  • Describe at least 2 lines and 2 shapes seen in still life objects Goals 1, 2, 7
  • Practice drawing at least 2 objects on practice paper Goal 5
  • On good paper with black marker, draw at least 4 different objects Goals 2, 3
  • Color the objects using oil pastels Goal 5
  • Use scissors correctly to accurately cut out the objects Goal 5
  • Assist with materials clean-up as directed Goal 7


  • Recall basic art elements (line, shape, color, texture) Goal 1, 9
  • Describe at least one drawn object and the lines/shapes used to render it Goals 2, 3, 7

Tools Needed For Application

Vocabulary (in student-friendly terms):

  • Free-form shape: a shape we use our imaginations to make up
  • Geometric shape: a shape that we all recognize, that has a name
  • Still life: a picture of objects from everyday life; an arrangement of non-living, non-moving (“still”) objects from everyday life
  • Texture: the way something feels when you touch it


  • Teacher-made: a line drawing in progress and corresponding objects being drawn; elements and principles charts; large display board w/marker to demonstrate, teacher product of a finished still life
  • Art Resources: actual objects (vase, bowl, fruit, candlestick, etc.) that show line and shape fairly easily; still life artworks emphasizing line and shape such as those by Henri Matisse, Claude Monet, Evelyn Stewart, etc.

Materials and Preparation:

  • Large portable drawing pad/display board and black marker for demonstration
  • Envelope for each S/T containing paper, cardboard to lean on, and pencil
  • Bag with 8 still life objects, one given to each S/T during step 10 of procedure (below)
  • Thick lead drawing pencils and erasers
  • Manila papers for group for practice and final drawings: cut some to app. size of objects
  • Black Sharpie markers
  • Oil pastels
  • Masking tape
  • Wet wipes or bucket/sponge/towels


Procedural Steps:


1. Lead teacher opens with Hello Song, and a recall of artist behaviors...who can tell us a way that an artmaker behaves?

2. What do artists need to do to make good artwork? (think carefully about what they’re doing, experiment and try new things, don’t quit when they make a mistake, keep going and discover a new way, etc.

3. Teacher asks children what things artists need to know to about to make art having them recall the four basic elements of art and last week’s activities that focused on learning qualities of lines.

4. Who can tell us something that lines can do? Review the four qualities: variety, direction, show emotion, make shapes.

5. Teacher focuses on element of shape, defining two basic kinds:

  • Geometric - these are shapes we all recognize, shapes that have a name. Who can come and draw a shape that has a name? (use portable display board)
  • Free-form - these are shapes we see in nature or shapes we use our imagination to make up, they have no particular name anyone would automatically know (have another child demonstrate on display board).

6. Recall that elements of art are all around us...who looked for lines and shapes this past week? If we are going to be artmakers, why is it important to be able to see the lines and shapes in things around us? (one reason, to be able to draw these objects).

7. Teacher and children explore the art exemplars for ways in which artists have used line and shape to make their images and designs. Teacher points out and defines still life.

8. Teacher presents idea of drawing and asks children if anyone is not sure that they can draw...maybe is afraid to draw something...or would like to be able to draw something that looks real.

9. Teacher explains that no one can draw well unless they can look at the object they want to draw and be able to the elements of art in that object...this is the art behavior of being able to “see with the eye of an artmaker, being able to see elements of line and shape and color and texture in every object". Cite examples with group:

  • Leader demonstrates by holding up an object (orange) and asking children what is it. Yes, we know it's an orange, but now let's look at it with the eye of an artmaker and figure out what elements of art can be seen in the orange, and see if we can figure out what elements we would have to use to draw it...can we use our eyes to follow around the shape of the orange and see the kind of line that is there making up that shape?
  • Leader demonstrates using finger to trace outline of orange.
  • Leader then draws object, demonstrating the process of starting with line, following outer edge of object with eye, keeping pencil on paper, drawing some, then looking back at object, then drawing more, etc….notice how much my eye is looking at the orange, then at what I am drawing, really looking to see the orange’s lines and shape.
  • Repeat with vase and/or other still life object.

10. Leader asks S/T's to repeat this again in their small groups by taking one object and doing the same as above with their children.

11. Upon completion of demonstrations, teacher gathers everyone's attention back to the front and recalls that in order to draw a picture of an object, we must be able to see what elements it contains. We must be able to use these elements to make a picture of the object.

12. Teacher suggests that we break up into our small groups and practice more drawing of objects (practice first and S/T’s check to see if concepts applied before proceeding to final drawings). Teacher explains that if we are able to do some good drawing work today, then next week we can create our own still life compositions, like the artist's picture we have seen. Teacher defines still life as an art form (see Vocabulary above).


13. All proceed to work stations, where children will first practice drawing one displayed object on a large sheet of paper together as a group. Working together, S/T's have children examine the object and "find" it's lines and shapes as we did above, then draw it in their own space on the group paper using pencil. S/T's talk the children through this process and repeat it until children are able to achieve the objective...start with line, keep pencil on paper, follow the outer line of the object with your eye, draw it as you go, stop every few seconds to look at the object again, and then draw, look back again, continue drawing, etc.

14. When ready, S/T's give each child a black Sharpie and a sheet of good paper that is sized app. to match the object so you can use the physical space of the paper to help children “draw big” and fill the paper with the object;. (Children are to draw only one object on each sheet of paper). S/T can size and cut the paper for each object on the spot as needed. Children proceed to draw their objects. Stress that while drawing, keep their pencil on the paper as much as possible, and keep looking from object to drawing as they go. Children draw as many objects as they can on good sheets of paper, and at least 4 different ones. Children can draw the same object over again for practice as needed. S/T put names on back of drawings.

15. If there is time, children can begin to add color to their drawn objects using the oil pastels. Once objects are drawn and colored, they can be cut out using the scissors.

16. When finished, children clean up fingertips from oil pastels if necessary (use scrubby side of damp sponge to remove oil pastel). Children can assist by bringing some drawings up front for display and discussion, and helping to put the oil pastels away properly in their slots/boxes.


17. All reconvene in large group in front for closing. Leader has children recall major concepts: 4 basic elements of art; seeing with eye of an artmaker, etc., and asks children to identify and describe use of line and shape in the drawings on display.

18. Leader gives a preview of the continuation of this lesson for next week as we work to complete a still life (show final product). Next week, we will learn about and create a pattern for a wallpaper background, and a table!

19. Sing Good-bye Song. Nametags collected.


In addition to observation of the performance objectives stated above, questions to ask include:

  • Were students able to draw/depict the essential line composing the objects?
  • Did students improve their ability to look at the object more often while drawing (rather than drawing from memory)?

Curriculum Connections:

A main idea would be to see if there are other classes where children can see/identify any of the elements of art, for example, in language arts class, children read sentences that are placed in a horizontal "line"...children practice printing and writing letters that require use of straight and curvy lines going in different directions...’lining up’ to go somewhere…children can identify what certain colors mean in other class or school-wide activities (symbols, school colors).

Abbreviation Key

NYS Standards for the Arts:
AH = Art History Std. 1 = creating, participating in art
AC = Art Criticism Std. 2 = knowing art materials and processes
AE = Aesthetics Std. 3 = responding to works of art/artists
AP = Art Production Std. 4 = knowing cultural dimensions of art

Needs Assessment Areas for Developing Skills and Abilities:
A/C    = academic/cognitive M/P = motor/perceptual  E = emotional
C        = communicative status W/S = work/study habits S = social
Pre-V = prevocational skills  L = living skills  

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