The Big Idea: Architecture is the art of designing buildings.

Core Knowledge:

V.  Architecture
• Understand architecture as the art of designing buildings.
• Understand symmetry and a line of symmetry, and observe symmetry in the design of
some buildings (such as the Parthenon).
• Noting line, shape, and special features (such as columns and domes), look at
The Parthenon


Where can we find copies of the Parthenon?

Nashville, Tennessee

Class 1 Parthenon:

Purpose: Observe symmetry in the Parthenon and deepen that experience by designing and symmetrical building.

Here is what the Parthenon would look like if we look from above. Each circle represents a column.

From a bird's eye view

Columns support the roof of the building. Of the three types of Greek columns, the Parthenon uses the Doric type:

Doric column

The Doric column is the simples of the 3 Greek columns. It is a shaft with no base. Sitting like a crown on the shaft is the capital. Doric capitals are the plainest; a circle topped by a square. It’s plain but powerful!

For more information see Mr. Donn’s lessons.

Other famous columns…

Thomas Jefferson's home- Monticello!

Project: Building challenge! You and your team are important architects. Design a building that has a special purpose, such as a place where children can meet to talk about ideas or play games. On one side of your paper draw a plan of the building. On the other side draw what the building would look like three dimensionally.

Columns Project:

Class 1 (above discussion of Parthenon, symmetry and plans).

Class 2

Review the purpose of columns, especially the Doric order. Review Parthenon in Athens. Show students some local buildings that use columns to support it (our school, State Capitol building, local banks, etc.).

Using cardboard tubes, each student will build a Doric column.

a. Clean anything off of your tube. Write your name on a slip of paper and put it inside the tube.

b. Paint the tube white. In our classroom we have many baby food jar lids. Paint those white to use as the saucer-shaped part of the capital. While those are drying, cut out the part to top the column.

c. Hot glue the lid to the column.

I’ll make a stylobate and our entire class will place their columns on this. Then on top of those columns we’ll place a roof.

Your building must:

1. Use columns to support a roof.

2. Be symmetrical from either an above view or from the front.

Class 2 Parthenon follow up: add to what we know about the Parthenon. Finish our columns. Draw capitals on the tops, lines going up and down

What are those grooves going up and down on the columns?

Why are they there?



Class 3 Frank Lloyd Wright, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.

Newspaper Challenge: In 20 minutes re-create the Guggenheim Museum. If you can do that, create a copy that could hold a dictionary!

Class 4 South American Architecture:

South American:

Mayan temples at Copan-

Posted in Second Grade | Leave a comment

Free Education and Free Rice

We signed up on Free Rice as OllertonsArt and our goal is 20,000 grains donated by the end of May! Today we earned 230 grains. We’re going to start a group called Monticello Academy!

When the bell rings at the end of the day, students clean up their projects and wait for their names to appear on the “carpool list”. It’s not the  most exciting time during the day, but yesterday my 4th graders discovered how much good we can do during that time!

By trying to use our time wisely, we found a website that allows us to learn about subjects like chemistry, geography and ART and at the same time, donates FREE RICE for every correct answer. Yesterday we helped donate over 300 grains of rice!

Click below to see which subjects you can study, and at the same time, help feed poor people

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Art of the United States

the Big Idea: Early American artists reflected the spirit of the new nation and how it wished to see itself portrayed.

Washington Crossing the Delaware

Emanuel Leutze

True stories?

Posted in Fourth Grade | Leave a comment

“Feed Our Future”

logotype: a graphic representation of or symbol of a company name or trademark and is often uniquely designed for quick recognition.

The Event is: 18 May 2011, 7pm

A charity fundraiser. Proceeds go to the local food bank.

By our Art Department. We’ll auction student-created ceramic vessels and give away soup to eat from your new bowl!

The Logo contest is:

Design a logo to be featured on advertisements for this event!

A simple figure.

1 to 3 colors.

Due this Friday (29 April).


What makes a good logo?

Simple and memorable. Try this exercise in pop culture:

What is the logo for the sports company Nike?

What is the logo for the car company BMW?

What color does Coca-Cola use for it’s logo?

A good logo intelligently uses the following elements:

Figure: the form, shape or outline of something in a composition. Usually a human, but sometimes an animal or an object.

pattern: lines, colors or shapes repeated.

balance: when composition appears unified; creates a sense of stability

symmetry: having both sides exactly the same


The Project is: 

Create a mini-mug to donate to this art event.

Objective: Work with the clay intelligently, figuring out proper timing for slipping/scoring the clay as well as various stages of dryness. Be able to follow directions to know the proper time for each step.

Three parts to the mini-mug:

Body- The walls of the vessel

Bottom- the lowest part of the vessel

Handle- the part we use to hold the vessel

included 5th grade State core:

Objective 1
Explore a variety of art materials while learning new techniques and processes.

Objective 2
Predict the processes and techniques needed to make a work of art. (Follow steps to create the body, bottom and handle of the mug).

Objective 3
Handle art materials in a safe and responsible manner.

(Carefully handle the clay dust and clean up afterward).


slab- clay which has been made flat by rolling.

throw- forming clay on a potters wheel, or in this case creating a slab.

Posted in Fifth Grade | Leave a comment


Big ideas: Grade 1 artists will study a few of all the generally recognized elements of art. In this lesson they will study texture.

Objective: Study and recognize texture as an element of art.

Week 1 Real Texture

Project: Create an artwork that has 3 different kinds of real texture.

Students will measure and cut a square from a textured wallpaper sample. They will then add to that texture by choosing from different materials including yarn, beads, paper scraps, and sand.

Week 2 Implied Texture

Objective:  Study and recognize visual or implied texture as an element of art.

Project: Students will use basic printmaking, crayon rubbing and drawing techniques to create implied textures.

An implied texture is how something appears to feel, not how it actually does feel. For example, a picture of a porcupine is smooth. It looks like it would be prickly, but the picture itself is smooth.

Assessment: Verbal feedback- asking questions and looking for correct answers. Visual feedback- thumbs up/down.

What purpose did this basket have for Indian Americans? What was its job?

What would it feel like to hold this basket in your hands?

What are some words we can use to describe how it would feel?

How is the basket different from ones you might have touched before?

Will someone come up and feel this basket?

What does it feel like?

Why doesn’t it feel rough?

What shapes do you see on this basket?

How many colors are used in this basket?

Students will create implied textures. Have 4 different stations:

1. Rubbing plates- to make rubbings of texture plates

2. Drawing textures- draw what it would look like, fill up the entire page.

3. Drawing textures- draw what it would look like, fill up the entire page. (Two tables will do this. One with soft, silky texture, one with a rough, prickly texture).

4. Stamping- using foam or sponge stamps to repeat a shape that creates a visual texture.

5. Find an object in the room and make a rubbing of that surface.

Students will collect 5 papers throughout the class period. These papers will stay in the studio and be used next week to create a collaged piece.

Extension from Week 2 implied textures

Using textures created last week, students will measure different size shapes and layer them, gluing them down to create visually stimulating collages.

Cross curricular: Using their math and ruler skills to measure a rectangle or triangle, students will draw a texture and in one area use a rubber stamp or sponge stamp to create a texture to cut and layer on top of that area.


texture- an artwork’s real or implied surface quality, such as rough, smooth, slippery, etc.

“Another quality of texture is its interaction with light. Examine the rought surfaces of the young girl’s bodice in the reproduction of Degas’ Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen Years. Notice how the heavily textured areas of the bronze and muslin refract or abosrb the light as compared ot the girl’s smooth, metal cheek or silk reibbon that reflects it.”

Week 4 Real texture Collage

Project: Artists will create collages from squares of cardboard. While maintaining the square format, students will tear, cut and peel the cardboard to reveal and create at least 3 textures.

These will be covered with paint, so that texture is focused on.

Look for example at this large artwork by sculpture Louise Nevelson.

Louise Nevelson's artwork, unknown viewer

Posted in First Grade | Leave a comment

Tibetan Sand Mandalas


Goal: Experience part of Tibetan Buddhist culture.

Project: Create a meditation wheel or mandala that has personal significance.

Important ideas: An important system of philosophy developed among ancient Asian cultures. Buddhism teaches:

1. Pain, suffering and sadness are natural parts of life.

2. Desire is the cause of suffering.

3. Overcoming desire is the only way to end suffering. Reaching that state is called nirvana.

4. Achieving nirvana is possible by following the Eightfold Path.

week 1- Mental focus- generate a pattern or shape.

Look at examples:

week 2- physical focus- add colors of sand to mandala



Week 1- study circles and how to draw them using compasses. Study mandalas through coloring pages. Talk about what shapes we see in the mandalas and explain some of the symbolism represented through the 8 Auspicious (promising success, fortunate) Symbols of Buddhism.

The 8 Auspicious Symbols...why on the feet?

Why on the feet?

Week 2

A great website for activities, practices and crafts having to do with Buddhism:

Week 3

Objective: Create a small scale sand mandala, which will be “wiped away”.

Project: Draw three shapes, one inside of the other. Choose colors to fill those shapes. You may “draw” patterns or pictures on top of those shapes using different colors of sand.

Tibetan monks often spend long hours working on their mandalas, only to let nature blow them away, or “ruin” them.

Second grade team request:

Read The Magic Paintbrush.

What would you paint if you had a magic paintbrush and anything you painted became real?

Posted in Second Grade | Leave a comment


These very intelligent artists have been studying shape, and are now ready to move into form.

Here’s what we’ve been working on:

Creating forms out of salt dough–different colors.

Creating a class form out of oil-based modeling clay.

Creating a personal form out of clay.

We fired the clay.

Glazed the forms.

Forms waiting to be fired

Fired the form

And now...


Posted in First Grade | Leave a comment


This is the week of the Operas! We finished painting our scenery, and we’re gearing up for a unit on stories and storytelling. We just started working with a high school on an American Indian reservation. I’ll be visiting that school next week. As we write stories to send to them, we watched an example of a great story:

Harold Lloyd’s clock scene from Safety First

One third grader said, “If Justin Beiber were up there, I’d climb that building fast!”

Another third grade artist said, “They should call it ‘climb-a-building’.”

Our ideas for collaborating with the American Indian high schoolers.

Petersen's notes for collaboration

Dunn's ideas for collaboration

The wonderful third graders are planning the set design for their operas. All completely designed by them! Next week we’ll be painting! Each photograph represents the brainstorm from each class. These kids are SMART! 

Posted in Third Grade, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Talk to Me…

Wow! So a colleague emailed me a link to this website:

I clicked on it.

I chose Uffizi gallery.

I looked at some art CLOSE UP.

I was inspired, went home and started to paint.

So tell me, talk to me,

What Inspires You?

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

American Art-landscapes


Project: Three important ideas to America in the 1800’s; discovery, exploration, and settlement.

Week 1 (14-18 March) DISCOVERY

– Lesson about expectations and abilities

– Prep paper, drawing boards and pencils. Go outside and draw the landscape.

18 March 2011 So something silly happened today before we went outside to draw. One of our students was excused for a few minutes and we couldn’t wait for him, so I wrote a note on the tile floor  outside the studio door thinking, “He’ll find us outside, writing on the floor is a good idea, this is dry erase marker, it’ll come off.” He found us without a hitch, happily drew for the whole time and life was good. We tramped back to studio and I rubbed the message with my foot and it didn’t come off! I got Windex, scrubbed, lamented, etc. Finally a few 5th grade artists saved my bacon by spitting on it and kicking at the message repeatedly with their sneakers. It worked! The little geniuses. So I gave them erasers and they cleaned it off. I need to keep these guys around…

-Horizon, what things we discovered from working outside. Look at Thomas Cole’s The Oxbow. Cross the street to parking lot to draw the view of the sun over the river.

landscape by Thomas Cole 1836

Part of the Hudson River school of painting

30 March- Today one of the students said something so insightful as we were hanging out drawings from our cloudy drawing period…

I just didn’t have the instinct today.” -Caden

What did he mean by that?

Week 2 (21-25 March) EXPLORATION

-Look at Albert Bierstadt’s Rocky Mountains. Revisit river to make landscape drawings, or if we already did that, go to the other side of school for mountain view.

-Pounce transfer drawings to canvas board.

Another "Hudson River school" painting called "The Rocky Mountains"

by George Caleb Bingham

Compare this work to "The Rocky Mountains, Lander's Peak". What do the artists want us to think about the West?

What is happening in this painting?

What mood does this painting suggest to you?

How did Bingham create the sense of a calm early morning?

Compare this work to The Rocky Mountains, Lander’s Peak. What do the artists want us to think about the West?

Get a closer look at this work:

Can you find which river the "Fur Traders" were descending?

What Native Indian tribes were in the Missouri River at the time of the painting? Check out this map:

Week 3 (28 March-1 April) SETTLEMENT

-Finishing pouncing drawings. Begin painting. Talk about layers of color, light, shadow.

-Visit one of the sites, paint outside!

What else was happening in America in the first half of the 1800’s?

Thoreau and Walden

We’re working on our landscapes and they look great! We’ve been inspired by the colorful backgrounds of Tim Gagnon. Check out his video to see the obvious influence: 

I wanted to post these pics at the beginning of the post, but I hope people will scroll this far down on the page to check it out.

The big idea of this project: As the young nation expanded in the 1800’s, Romantic idealism permeated much of American art.

Posted in Fifth Grade | Leave a comment