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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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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Students using perception skills on a field trip at the Denver Art Museum
Field Trip

Perception Games & Skills

Grades 3-6

Students investigate art across cultures and time, forming their own opinions through examination and collaboration.

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Students on a field trip at the Denver Art Museum who are exploring imagination games and skills.
Field Trip

Imagination Games & Skills

Grades K–2

Participatory games, collaborative activities, and prompts for inquiry lead students through a fun exploration of color, material, imagination, and story to see art in a new way.

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Tour guide and children on an Early Childhood Education Tour in the Pre-Columbian and Spanish Colonial art collection.
Field Trip

Creative Explorers

Explore the museum’s culturally diverse collection and discover the imaginative ways artists use materials. Storytelling, artmaking, movement, and tactile activities inspire students to experience art in a new way.

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