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3rd Grade: Elements of Art: Light in Artworks/Lesson Organizer

Lessons taken from What Your Third Grader Needs to Know and the 3rd Grade Core Knowledge Teacher Handbook
The Big Idea: Artists use the elements of light and space to create pictures. The unique way the artists combine the individual elements as

Elements of Art Domain Vocabulary:

Background: The part of the scene that appears to be farthest from the observer
Balance: In art, when composition appears unified or equal (same on both sides); creates a sense of stability
Depth: The distance from front to back
Design: The way the different elements work together in a piece of art
Figure: The form, shape, or outline of something in a piece of art, usually a human, but sometimes an animal or object
Folk Art: Works made by self-taught artists who have not had formal artistic training
Foreground: The part of a scene that appears to be nearest the observer
Genre Scene: Composition that describes everyday life
Height: How tall something is
Middle Ground: Area in a painting that appears to be between objects in the foreground and the background
Pattern: Lines, colors and/or shapes repeated again and again
Symmetric: Having both sides exactly the same
Three-dimensional: Having height, width and depth
Two-dimensional: Having height and width
Width: The distance across an object

What Students Need to learn:

1. Observe how artists use light and shadow (to focus attention, affect our emotions, etc.) in art: Ruby Green Singing, and Vermeer’s

At a Glance:
1. Light and shadow affect the way we see and feel about an artwork.
2. Students should have opportunities to explore the elements of art in art projects.

Higher Order Thinking

# Method Objectives Materials
Caught in the Light: Students will be introduced Q. How do you feel Reproductions of Ruby Knowledge,
Light in artworks: Ruby Green, The Milkmaid, with on a bright and Green, The Patterns
a focus on Belshazzar’s Feast and explore how light sunny day? Milkmaid, Modeling
affects feelings in artworks.

Think about waking up in a bright sunny day. Sunlight

pours into your room. The sunlight makes every detail
Q. How do you feel
stand out and every color seem brighter. You feel
on a dark and cloudy
Bright and alive.
Think about waking up on a dark and cloudy morning.
Your room looks gray and blurred. How do you feel?
Q. Have you ever
been surprised by a
Light can affect the way we feel. It can lift your spirits
flash in a dark
and help you feel happy. Without light we can feel sad Belshazzar’s Feast
stormy sky?
and dreary. The way artists use light in their paintings
can affect your emotions as well. a flashlight
After the flashlight
angles o the facial
Lesson Ideas:
1. Be introduced to Ruby Green, The Milkmaid,
Q. How do the
and with a focus on Belshazzar’s Feast.
expressions look
2. Look at Rembrandt’s experimenting with light
and how it affected people’s facial expression.
3. Have a volunteer show expressions of fear,
anger, surprise, etc. shine a flashlight on the
side of their face, from above and below.
4. Discuss how the expressions look different.
Demonstration Students will be introduced to James Chapin’s Ruby Q. Why do you think Flashlight, James Knowledge,
Class Green Singing painting and questions. the painting does not Chapin’s Ruby Patterns
Discussion, show a background? Green Singing Modeling
Activity Lesson Ideas: Sheet music print Creativity
1. Go over Ruby Green Singing painting and CK Q. Where did offs of 2nd and 3rd
questions. Chapin use light in grade CK songs,
Warm and cool colors have the ability to evoke this composition?
emotions and atmospheres.
2. Volunteer as a group to sing a song in front of
3. Examine the poses and faces made by the
student while singing
4. Discuss the relationship between the
expressions and the expressions and content of
the song.
5. Draw a picture of a person showing expression
singing. Picture must have a light source (sun)
and shadow. This can be drawn on the sheet
music page from their 3rd grade CK music list of
music they are learning.

Demonstration Students will finish drawing and color their drawing Q. How can you use Ruby Green Singing Knowledge,
Class inspired by Ruby Green Singing painting. light and shadow in reproduction, Patterns
Discussion, your picture? Colored pencils Modeling
Activity Lesson Ideas: Creativity
1. Work on picture inspired by Ruby Green
2. Use expression with line, light, and color to
show feeling in their drawing
3. Make a light source as and a shadow of
figure on picture.
Demonstration Students will be introduced to Jan Vermeer’s Q. The light falls on Jan Vermeer’s Knowledge
Activity Kitchen Maid and history Q’s and make a still life some things, what Kitchen Maid Modeling
drawing using clip on lights. are some of them? Patterns
Clip on lamps for Creativity
Lesson Ideas: Q. What do they tell the tables,
1. Be challenged to find the “Z” of light starting at you about the
the window. woman’s life or Variety of still life
2. Sketch and experiment with light to make their work? objects,
artwork using clip on lamps and arranging Variety of media for
different objects. students to try

Demonstration Ask a class students will make a chart with two Q. How does the 3rd grade art Knowledge
Class columns one with LIGHT the other with DARK. artist use light to reproductions, paper, Modeling
Discussion, convey emotion pencil Patterns
Activity Lesson Ideas: through their use of Creativity
1. Brainstorm feeling words that each word light and shadow?
evokes. ie. Happy might be under LIGHT… or
mysterious under DARK
2. Look at a display of some of the artwork
they’ve been introduced to, students will then
write about how each artist uses light to evoke
emotion in some of the artworks.

Optional Link with classroom Science study of the

Solar System:

Lesson Ideas:
1. Design a Solar System with a sun, light source
and shade the planets with highlight and

Test questions: Students should be able to answer

these questions at the end of this section.
1. What are two ways artists use light in
A. Artists use light to direct our gaze and to
establish a mood or feeling.
2. What does an artist use for the opposite of light
in a work?
A. Shadow is used as the opposite of light by