Building outside the box
Lesson Plan

Building outside the box

Elementary (grades K-5) Secondary (grades 6-12)
One 60 minute lesson

Explore architecture with the idea that buildings don't have to be box-shaped. Students will create their own architectural designs by literally thinking outside the box.

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Theodore Waddell, Motherwell’s Angus, 1994. Oil paint on canvas. Denver Art Museum; Gift of Barbara J. and James R. Hartley.
Art Exploration

Tinker with Mark Making Tools

Using uncommon painting tools allow children creativity and a choice when determining what and how to create their artwork.  

Artists often tinker with non-conventional tools to help create their art. In Motherwell’s Angus, artist Theodore Waddell uses masonry trowels and specially modified brushes originally intended to apply tar to roofs to create a heavy build-up of paint on the surface of the canvas.

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Hadley Hooper, Tableau, 2016. Theater flats, paper, wheat paste, Ikea chairs. © Hadley Hooper.
Art Exploration

Seeing Texture

Inspired by the whimsical installation, Tableau, created by Hadley Hooper, this printmaking exploration invites children to discover textures and patterns of different tools and materials as they reveal colorful ink prints! 

Prepare an art center with Styrofoam trays, printing ink or paint, rollers, paper, and a mixture of tools and materials that create imprints, such as:

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Sam Gillam, Abacus Sliding, 1977
Art Exploration

Layers of Resist

Young artists will explore negative space by layering paper to resist paint and create a pattern. This activity will support children in discovering how to create shapes through resist. 

Ideas for the Art Center:

  • Add pre-cut paper shapes in various sizes.
  • Painters tape
  • Rollers with ink or paint
  • Paper

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Ink pad and stamps laid out for artmaking
Art Exploration

Building Stamps

Using everyday materials, young artists will build their own stamps and explore the power of repetition in creating a pattern. 

Materials for the art center:

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If, Richard Patterson, 1999, oil paint
Art Exploration

Drip Drop Paint

Children discover what happens when paint drips over a 3-D form. Pouring one color at a time, children see the effect of layering colors.

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Book cover of Not a Stick by Antoinette Portis
Book Recommendation

Ignite Imagination with a Stick

In this story, the pig uses a stick to fight dragons, conduct an orchestra and go fishing. It's amazing what a stick can be when it's not a stick. 
  • What else could be made with this stick?
  • What would you want to make with this stick?
  • Why can a stick become so many different things?
  • Have you ever used your imagination to make something wonderful from a stick?
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Book cover of Not a Box by Antoinette Portis
Book Recommendation

Imagine the possibilities of a box

A cardboard box is one of the best tools for play. This story sparks the imagination of students for what else a box could be. 

Circle Group Time brainstorm activity:

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Turn a mistake into something beautiful
Book Recommendation

Turn a mistake into something beautiful

We all make mistakes, but then what? This engaging book will encourage students to turn a drip or torn paper into a work of art. 

Prompting questions:

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What to do when you get stuck
Book Recommendation

What to do when you get stuck

After reading about Vashti, students will be left feeling the possibilities of making art even when they aren't sure where to begin.

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Students on a field trip to see highlights from the Denver Art Museum's collection.
Field Trip

DAM Highlights

Students discover artists’ creativity over time and across cultures, making comparisons and connecting with human stories through art.

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Students practicing language art skills during a field trip at the Denver Art Museum
Field Trip

Artful Literacy

Grades 2-8

Students actively practice language arts skills while exploring the DAM’s culturally diverse art collection.

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