6th Grade · Art History · Elements of Design · end of year projects · line · pattern

Kusama inspired art installations

Yayoi Kusama is one of the coolest and most unique artists out there. She is a Japanese artist who uses large patterns like dots to fill an entire space (this is called installation art). She has a great passion for what she does, and I thought that her passion may spark an interest in my 6th graders.  So I rolled out the red butcher paper and had the students work in groups to create a pattern that they wanted to blow up to be huge! Each student was asked to create their own pattern and then the group would vote on their favorite one. Many groups chose dots, but some groups got a little more creative and did lines, or hearts. (I wish that I had taken more process photos, because the end result doesn’t do justice of how much work these students put in!) When all of the groups complete this artwork, our class will go out in the hallway and hang these pieces up, creating our own installation art.

** This project is part of a series called the “Art Olympics” which is a series of mini projects designed for the end of the school year. You can read about it here.

Power points:

Kusama project day 1

Principles poem powerpoint

Lesson plan: Coming soon

Project requirements:

  • Cover a piece of red butcher paper with a large scale pattern
  • Use three principles of design Unity, Pattern, and Contrast
  • Lines and shapes are neatly painted
  • only use black or white paint
  • Everyone in the group must participate

I even wrote a poem explaining what these different principles of design meant.

Two are new, and one is old. When we’re done you will know. And the art you will create, will be something awesome, cool and neat. And when the olympics** are through, goodbyes are said, and summer anew, you’ll be 7th graders, grown a foot or two. And it’ll be sun, surf and sky so blue. So now when we count to the end of school 13 more days till you’ll be in a pool. This is the end of my poem now, so please oh please don’t have a cow…. I’ll move on, starting now….


But pattern, pattern you may say. I know this one it’s quite easy.  Lines, dots and shapes it’s true, make these patterns meant to woo….

Chevron, smileys, and stripes, my oh my it’s all the hype.

Repeat a shape one or three then a pattern you will see.


This one tricky I’ll admit, but I promise if you’ll sit- unity’s meaning will come in view. And you’ll be able to use it too!

Unity is easy you’ll see, when everything comes together as family.

All the pieces big and small give sense of one picture after all.


Contrast is fun, it’s dark and light. It’s the difference between day and night.

And the difference between rough and soft, the difference between on the ground and in a loft.

Contrast my friend is everywhere, take note to see it and then share. Tell your friends both high and low, of this knowledge that you know.   

And now my friends tis the true end, and these projects we shall mend. With pattern, unity and contrast…. Onto the kusama project at last.

here is what my classroom has looked like the last week


RED everywhere!!!!


Here are some of what the groups have been working on…



Aren’t these cool!? I LOVE how every group is SO different! I can’t even choose a favorite. So when we are all finished we will hang these up in the hallway side by side to create a really crazy big red wall! Kusama would be proud!


5th Grade · Art History · Elements of Design

Aztec “emoji” lesson

Students will recreate the Aztec sun stone by telling their own story using emojis. They will draw sketches which will be transferred onto scratch board next class period. This lesson plan is based on the concept of ideograms, which are symbols used to tell a story. The Aztecs included many ideograms, as this was a part of their written language. Emojis are essentially ideograms of the 21st century.

Day 1 Lesson plan: AztecArtLesson2 (1)

Day 2 Lesson plan :Aztecday2

Day 3 lesson Plan:AztecArtLessonday3

Handouts:Aztec vs emojis

Powerpoint: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1cl1yUCDpUNub_GFB_ExvA2kngEhNIBnen2dyNA2l2fY/edit?usp=sharing

If you want to know how this lesson plan was developed check out my research blog post here. 


Videos :

Mood Music

5th Grade · Art History · Uncategorized

Aztec Art Research


The Aztecs saw art as precious things, and you were lucky if you owned any. Their artwork was sacred to them. (http://www.aztec-history.com/ancient-aztec-art.html)

This is a website I found with an explanation of Aztec symbols : http://www.aztec-history.com/aztec-symbols.html The Aztec’s used symbols for everything!

Common animal symbols were:

  1. Snakes
  2. jaguars
  3. dogs
  4. animal
  5. birds
  6. insects
  7. frogs (joy)
  8. butterflies
  9. monkeys

Ideograms are “graphical symbol that represents an idea, rather than a group of letters” (The History of Visual Communication)

What does this sound like to you?? Possibly EMOJI’s? “a small digital image or icon used to express an idea, emotion, etc., in electronic communication.”

Here is a comparison of Aztec/Mayan ideograms and emojis






They both are icons that represent a word, and when combined can tell a story.






The History of Visual Communication – Ideograms. (n.d.). Retrieved February 17, 2016, from http://www.citrinitas.com/history_of_viscom/ideograms.html

Aztec Symbols. (2016). Retrieved February 17, 2016, from http://www.aztec-history.com/aztec-symbols.html
5th Grade · Art History

Byzantine Mosaics

Students will learn about Byzantine art and history, and what it is like to work for a patron. Students are commissioned by a patron, in this case the animal shelter, to create artwork to their very specific guidelines.

Lesson Plan:Byzantine Lesson Plan


GAME!: GAME power point


Guidelines this patron set

The Rexburg Animal Shelter would like paper mosaics that are 5 in x 5in big, each with a gold paper background. We would also prefer that students create a border around their mosaic that reflects the animal shelter. Animals can be wildlife, imaginary or pets. It doesn’t matter we LOVE all animals!*

*These are made up requirements. The Rexburg Animal Shelter had nothing to do with this.

Art work that served as an inspiration for this lesson plan (images all found on google image–I do not own any of these images)

And of course the lovely Justinian and his wife


While researching Byzantine art I also came across an artist named Craig Larotonda, His artwork is loosely inspired by Byzantine art. PLEASE NOTE, some works are not appropriate for all audiences. – http://www.revelationart.net/