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UWCSEA Gr6 Art - Unit 1

Page history last edited by Frank Curkovic 8 years, 11 months ago

"Each work grows, stays, decays – integral parts of a cycle..."

-Andy Goldsworthy



Grade 6 Art - Unit 1 "Our World: The Natural Environments" (Drawing & Ceramics)


(image credit)


Enduring Understanding: Observation, practice and approaches to learning help develop skill.


Guiding Questions:


  • What is ephemeral art and why do artists work in this way?
  • What different styles of drawing are there and why? (doodles, realistic, illustration)
  • What is a sculpture? What materials can be used?



  • (How can I produce temporal artwork?)
  • How do you start a drawing?
  • How do you develop ideas?
  • How do we take a good photo?



  • What is Art? Why do artists make art? Why do audiences consider it?
  • Is the intention of the artist important in our understanding of artwork? Why or why not?
  • What makes a good drawing?
  • Where do good ideas come from?
  • Is product more important than process? Why or why not?




By the end of this unit, students will be able to:


  • improve basic drawing skills (observation, hand-eye coordination, simple shapes etc.)
  • use observational skills to render natural objects (leaves, fruits, plants, etc)
  • revise & improve shape, line and tone & gradation skills from Grade 5
  • implement tonal contrasts with differing line techniques (hatching, stippling etc.)



  • utilise basic camera skills such as focus (& camera shake), lighting, composition, macro
  • become familiar with line, texture, pattern, rhythm, movement, emphasis & contrast through photography MOVED TO NEXT UNIT
  • improve iPhoto skills (organising, duplicating photos, contrast, editing etc.)
  • improve their visual literacy and composition building skills



  • become familiar with ephemeral/land art
  • (build an understanding about environmental issues & conservation)
  • to develop an understanding of how and why artists communicate through their work
  • plan & construct a 3D ceramic work of art using a slab with additive & subtractive techniques and methods of construction
  • design and create surface decoration with texture variation as a decorative element
  • apply glaze (& oxides) with a limited palette


Key Terms: 

Drawing: composition, line, texture, pattern, rhythm, movement, emphasis, contrast, hatching, cross hatching, gradation, stippling, cropping, value, gradation


Sculpture: additive, bisque, ceramics, clay, ephemeral, fire, form, glaze, relief, sculpture, shape, slab, subtractive, texture



Artists to Consider:

  • Andy Goldsworthy: a British sculptor, photographer and environmentalist producing site-specific sculpture and land art situated in natural and urban settings.
  • Robert Smithson: an American artist famous for his land art. 
  • Christo and Jeanne-Claude: a married couple who created environmental works of art.
  • Jim Denevan: works with natural materials to create massive scale drawings in sand, ice, and soil.
  • Julian Beever: Street chalk artist, especially 3D illusions.

Ephemeral Art: four characteristics of ephemeral art: time, communicative act, inherent vice and directive intent. Ephemeral art often involves works that do not exist in a steady state, but change or decay slowly.

Is street art ephemeral?


Ephemeral art images gathered on Pinterest here.


2013 Grade 6 student work examples

2014 Grade 6 student work examples



Rubric here


*note: lessons below are subject to change at the discretion of the teacher.

1 week will also involve the student outdoor education visit to Tiamon Island, Malaysia.

This unit will be broken into 2 parts.

Aug-Oct will involve drawing and part 2 will begin after the October break until December and involve sculpture.






Lesson 1 - Intro & Ephemeral Art

Grade 6 Day 1 activity (Pre-assessment)


Table Discussion (document your answers in your sketchbooks):

What is Art? 

(answer here)

Why do artists make art? 

(answer here)

Why do audiences consider it? 

(answer here)

Be prepared to share your answers as a class. 


Watch the following video below. Take notes on what earth art/land art or ephemeral art are.

  • What materials are used?
  • What locations are used?
  • Why do they do this?


Split your groups in half to join another group.

Watch the following video on artist Jim Denevan. Jim Denevan is an artist that uses the natural environment as his canvas.

For example, he may use sand to create his works of art.

After the video, discuss the following in groups: Do you think this is art? Why or why not?


Time permitting:

In different groups, look at the following works of art by Andy Goldsworthy. Discuss the 3 questions below in your group. (5 mins)


  • This type of art is called ephemeral art.
  • View other examples.
  • What do they all have in common?
  • In your opinion, what is ephemeral art?
  • You will be creating ephemeral art whilst in Tioman.


Homework: none



Lesson 2 - Photography

Arrange seating for students.

Warm-up: Table discussion (3mins)

What is ephemeral art and why do artists work in this way?

How can I produce temporal artwork?

Note: Whilst in Tioman, students will create their own ephemeral art.


Whole class discussion:

  • What makes a good photograph? (4mins) & then split groups to share. Then share as a class. (4mins)
  • Are there any rules to help us create and evaluate art? What can we look for? Are there any ingredients to help us? 

Gr6 Elements-Principles of Design (10mins) (*Teacher may do this as a mix and match activity) 

Why is visual literacy important?


Task: The Principled Photographer (15-20mins)

  • Students will be put into pairs.
  • Each group will be assigned a principle of design (line, pattern/repetition, texture, balance, emphasis, contrast/colour)
  • Pairs should venture appropriately around campus attempting to photograph their principle


The Ephemeral Photographer

  • In groups of 3, go outside to gather natural materials.
  • Arrange them into an ephemeral work of art
  • Photograph it 


Conclusion: With your group, write a newspaper headline (headline task info) summarising something you learnt today.


Homework: What is a contour drawing?

**First group go to Tioman week 3



Lesson 3 - Line Weight

**First group go to Tioman

Arrange seating for students.


Warm-up: Continuous Contour Line Drawing (10 mins) (with pen) 

Choose an object to draw from your pencil case.

Flat rectangular objects and pencils are not good choices.

A Continuous Contour Line Drawing is an exercise to help us focus on observing the object & line.

Draw without lifting your pen from the paper.

Use pen so you do not need to worry about erasing mistakes.

Focus on looking at what you are drawing as much as the drawing itself and do not stop moving your hand when you look up.

Below is an example done with a portrait. 


Teacher to explain Unit Outline, Rubric & assessments


Outline Formative Task 1: Line Weight (30-40mins)

  • How can line show depth, weight & texture?

Have students practice drawing wavy lines with varying weight/pressure. 

  • How do we begin a drawing? (Teacher to demo)
  • Your goal is to create a drawing of a leaf using varying line weights.
  • What happens when you draw softly? Press hard?
  • Do not worry about shading. Focus on accuracy and line.
  • View rubric.
  • When complete, do a gallery walk.
  • Self assess your drawings using the rubric.



View the following video below.



Lesson 4 - Shading & Gradation

Warm-up (15 mins):

Draw the following pictured egg.

*Teacher will have to project on the screen or provide photocopies.

Pay attention to shading and gradation (blending of light to dark).

Start lightly and build it up.

Please title and date your work. Your drawing should fill half the page.

(photo source)



What makes a good drawing?

What are tones and gradation?


Formative Task 2:

You will draw a fruit or vegetable.

You are required to focus on your use of line, gradation/tonal variation and perhaps texture.

Review the rubric for the assessment criteria.



Design the cover of your sketchbook. Don't forget to include a photo of yourself.

Sign the expectations sheet if you haven't done so.



Lesson 5 - Shading with Line Techniques

Intro (10mins):

Critique and self-assess Formative Task 2 with the rubric.


Warm-up (10-15mins):


  1. Lines like ocean waves
  2. Lines like rain
  3. Lines like as clouds
  4. Lines thin as thread
  5. Lines round like buttons
  6. Lines jagged as rocks
  7. Lines like dots of snow
  8. Lines like thread dotted with snow
  9. Lines like the rings in a puddle
  10. Lines like the stars shining at night
  11. Lines like grass
  12. Lines that fade out into the background
  13. Lines like wood grain
  14. Lines like a fuzzy sweater 
  15. Lines to show something is getting darker, or lighter 


Consider the last drawing assignment.

How would you draw it, using only line? How would you show tones?


Watch the following video (if teachers feels necessary)


Formative Task 3 (30 minutes):

You will draw a cut open piece of fruit, vegetable or plant/flower.

Look at the patterns and shapes.

Lightly draw your planning lines in pencil.

Next, draw the object in marker or pen, using line weight & line techniques to show texture, tones & gradation. It may prove better to limit yourself to only one line technique.

Refer to the rubric on how you will be assessed.


Final Drawing Assessment (next week):

You are an artist! You have been invited to participate in a group exhibition showcasing the environment.

You are required to create a drawing of a natural object. What could you draw? You should brainstorm a list.

You will be evaluated on effort & how well you draw:

  • accuracy & observation
  • use of line (weight & line technique)
  • tonal value (shading & gradation)

View rubric.

You are permitted to draw realistically in pencil or use varied line techniques with fine line pen. Which do you prefer?

You should also consider how you will frame your composition.

Will you use emphasis? Balance? The rule of thirds? Could you even include repetition? What will be your intent as an artist?

You are permitted to work from a photo, but only if you photograph it yourself!

Your drawing will be approximately A4 size.

Have a look at some Gr6 Drawing Examples to get you thinking.

View some line drawing examples here.

Bring what you plan to draw to the next lesson. 



In pairs or groups, answer the following questions:


Lesson 6 - Summative Drawing Task

You have the entire lesson to complete your summative drawing.

It is due the next lesson.


Homework: Students may attend an open art studio session if they wish.



Lesson 7 - Present & Reflect

Students present their summative drawing & reflect on their strengths, challenges & improvements.

Students should also self-assess their work against the rubric.


Students should set up their Google Drive Folder: "Tutor Group-Name-Art" & share it with the teacher.

Students may also wish to create a sub folder for this unit and photograph their work using Photobooth.


CERAMICS can begin?


iPhoto - finding examples of Elements and Principles in photography

presenting findings on pages doc


Lesson 8

1 lesson lost due to Tioman trip.


October Break x 2 weeks




Lesson 9 - Pre-assessment

Lesson focus: How can we consider the value of materials in art?


Pre-assessment Textural Clay Tile (40mins)

You work for IKEA. IKEA is looking to create a new range of ornamental clay products focusing on texture.

They require you to create a flat slab tile, or a more 3D piece in cube or rectangular format.

You should think like a designer by consider additive/subtractive clay, texture to create a decorative piece.

You can create a pattern or an illustrative picture through clay.

Allow 10 mins for clean up. 


When complete, look at the example of possible textures below & then self-evaluate your creation using the Rubric.


Answer the following questions in your sketchbook as well:

  1. How do you feel about your work?
  2. How could you improve upon this piece?
  3. Are there any elements, research or skills/techniques you can use to further develop your work?
  4. What action will you take? What goals can you make?


Task 2: Outline of unit



Lesson 10

Arrange seating for students: Sit alphabetically

Lesson Focus: How can we create art that will raise awareness? Where do good ideas come from? 


Warm-up: Pixar Story Pitch (10mins)

Look at the following ceramic plate and create a story using the following sentences:

1. Once upon a time there was …
2. Every day …
3. One day …
4. Because of that …
5. Because of that …
6. Until finally …

Look at the piece again.

Now think about what decorative techniques were used on it.


Project Task:

Global Concern groups need your help. They are calling on artists to help raise awareness to their cause.

They desire subtle yet profound work, and wish to avoid cliche. You have been selected to participate in this event.

You will create a slab plate.

Your "sculpture" must communicate a message, a statement or a story, relating to a global concern.

How will you successfully do this? This can be in narrative form, or slightly more conceptual. What do you wish to convey?

You must incorporate design elements and surface decoration.

This can include texture, additive/subtractive clay, glaze (colour) and possibly form.

You must brainstorm, develop your ideas, plan and sketch your piece, experimenting with at least three possible final designs. This will form part of your assessment.

You will pitch these ideas to your peers, recording their feedback be it positive or negative. You will then make your final decision.

You may wish to cater your approach to your possible strengths and weaknesses.

For example, if you enjoy illustration, how can you incorporate this into your work?

You are not encouraged to include text into your work. How will you communicate your message clearly and coherently?

Note: You may have only 1 lesson to form your work. You will then also have 1 lesson to glaze it.


View rubric criteria.


At your tables, discuss the following questions (10 minutes):

What is the project task asking you to do?

What are the requirements to succeed on the task?

What evidence do we need to show?

Document this in your sketchbooks.


Game: divide class in half to brainstorm global concern groups at UWC. (10 minutes) 

Select a global concern and then create a brainstorm for it.

A good brainstorm should include some factual information, as well ideas for imagery, connections to senses, emotions, patterns, colours etc.


Homework: Be prepared to share your brainstorm for the next lesson.



View the following ad for the documentary film Girl Rising.

What do you see?

What do you think about it?

What does it mean? How has imagery been used effectively?


Review brainstorms from previous lesson.

Where do good ideas come from? (10min)

Sitting there and waiting for enlightenment will not help you.

You need to start getting ideas flowing.

What strategies can we use to develop ideas?


Begin creating some thumbnail sketches for your work. Thumbnail sketches are fast and are used to simply test out ideas and layout etc.

Generate as many as you can in 10mins.

The goal is to be quick and experiment.

This is part of your assessment.


Further strategies to elaborate your ideas:

  • Can you empathise or sympathise with your idea? Can you put yourself in its shoes? How can you relate emotionally?
  • How can your design change if you simplify it? Remove certain parts or elements.
  • What would happen to your design if you repeated a shape, a colour or an idea?
  • What would happen to your design if you made it bigger? smaller? changed proportion or dimensions?
  • What would happen to your design if you separated it or used only a part of it? What can you take away to focus on? Can you make your work minimal?
  • What would happen to your design if you twisted your subject out of its true shape, proportion or meaning? Can you make it wider, longer, fatter, narrower? Can you play with scale?
  • How can your subject have symbolic qualities?
  • Can you make it more expressive?
  • How will you incorporate colour?
  • Think back to your pre-assessment task. What was difficult to achieve? What was easy or effective? Were there any limitations that might impact the construction of your current designs? 

If you are still struggling for ideas, think about what you wish to convey about the Global Concern.

Write a short story about it. Select a scene to depict. Can you emphasise an aspect? [This could be like the warm-up Pixar Story Pitch task, but reversed]

Also have a look at the slideshow to assist in generating ideas.

Jot ideas down that you like and/or create thumbnails.



Continue developing thumbnails for your design.

Select your best 3 to further develop into a more coherent piece of work.

This can be sketchy, but more refined than a thumbnail.

At this stage, they do not have to be "perfect." You will pitch these 3 ideas to the class. 

You may need to write notes as to how the clay will be utilised.

For example, if it will be additive or carved out.



Lesson 11

Arrange seating for students: Sit by oldest to youngest

Lesson Focus:  How can we communicate our ideas effectively? 


Pitch planning ideas to class. (20mins)

  • Divide students into groups of 4.
  • Students will have 3minutes to pitch 3 design concepts to their group.
  • Groups member will then have 2 minutes to provide feedback.
  • Document any feedback you receive, be it positive or negative.
  • For the remainder of the class, finalise your choice of design.
  • Include colour and notes on how you will use texture etc.
  • If you gave your design/plan to someone in another class, would they be able to understand it and create the piece?
  • If not, your plan should be improved.


Homework: Have final design ready for next class.

Watch the following 12min video to also get an idea of how to form a slab plate.




Lesson 12

Today we will begin creating our plate.

Watch the following video below to get an idea of the process.

Some steps will differ from the video (example: We do not have chamois leather to smoothen the edges AND, instead of using a card to smoothen the plate, we will use the white spatula cake spreaders.)


Steps to remember:

Materials: clay, 2 pieces of wood, spatula spreader, newspaper, clay slip, tools to create texture

1. Form the clay into a ball to get the air bubbles out.

2. Flatten the clay slightly, but don't press down too hard, or it will stick to the table.

3. Use 2 pieces of wood and roll out the clay so the thickness is consistent.

4. Roll, flip and repeat so it doesn't stick to the table.

5. Place it on newspaper & smoothen both sides using the white spatula spreader.

6. Cut the shape of your plate.

7. Smoothen out the edges.

8. Add your textures/designs. Don't forget to score and use clay slip when adding clay.

9. Roll up the edges and place support around it to hold it up (if you wish).

10. Place your finished piece on the grey wooden boards. You may simply write your full name on a small piece of newspaper and leave it on top.




Lesson 13 **At discretion of teacher. Glazing will have to occur after the holiday.

Lesson focus: How can we collaborate to produce installation art?

What is installation art?

Top 10 Most Stunning Art Installations in 2013 (via My Modern Met)


Option 1: Tape sculptures




Option 2: Ai Wei Wei Sunflower seeds

Sunflower Seeds is made up of millions of small works, each apparently identical, but actually unique. However realistic they may seem, these life-sized sunflower seed husks are in fact intricately hand-crafted in porcelain. 

Each seed has been individually sculpted and painted by specialists working in small-scale workshops in the Chinese city of Jingdezhen. Far from being industrially produced, they are the effort of hundreds of skilled hands. Poured into the interior of the Turbine Hall’s vast industrial space, the 100 million seeds form a seemingly infinite landscape.

Porcelain is almost synonymous with China and, to make this work, Ai Weiwei has manipulated traditional methods of crafting what has historically been one of China’s most prized exports. Sunflower Seeds invites us to look more closely at the ‘Made in China’ phenomenon and the geo-politics of cultural and economic exchange today.




Clay pieces to be fired at this point. 



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