For 3rd grade, I decided to start with standard VA:Cr2.3.3- "Individually or collaboratively construct representations, diagrams, or maps of places that are part of everyday life", which my former art PLC and I had turned into "I can represent places from my life in artwork on my own or collaboratively."
The question I asked them on the first day of art class is "Where do artists get ideas?" We brainstormed a lot of ideas and I made sure they realized that ideas can come from the world around us. I told the students that I wanted them to focus on special places in their lives for the first project. I gave each student a planning sheet to help them think of ideas. Condensed version:
Special Place Planning Sheet
Brainstorm some places in your life that are special to you and list them below:
Circle one place that stands out the most.
What is special about the place?
What does it look like? Describe it using adjectives and specific details.
After students had planned their ideas, they were given paper and the option of using any drawing media or collage to complete their work. As students worked, I went around the room giving feedback and helping to solve problems. I just tried to help them figure out how to best carry out their ideas.
Some students made artwork about a place they went on vacation or for a special day with their family.
Some students made artwork about a place they compete like the softball field and rodeo below.
We packed a lot of standards in to this lesson but the students still had choices. With such a small number of class periods for some grades, starting with the standards really helped me focus. I'm always trying to find the right balance of hitting standards and empowering students to work like artists.
"I Can" statements for this lesson:
I can represent places from my life in artwork on my own or collaboratively.
I can use tools and materials safely for a variety of artistic processes.
I can add details to my artwork to enhance the meaning.
I can create artwork that I am proud of using different processes and materials.
I can prepare an artist statement.