Look & Listen, Retell & Interpret

Lesson Plan

Lesson

Students will use a close reading technique to discover, interpret, and retell the story represented in a work of art.

Intended Age Group

Early childhood (ages 3-5)

Length of Lesson

One 45 minute lesson

Standards Area

Language Arts

Objectives

Students will be able to:

  • read an image for information;
  • relate newly acquired information to previous knowledge; and
  • use listening and speaking skills to verbally share knowledge gained.

Lesson

  1. Show students an image of the Eyedazzler Blanket/Rug and ask them to describe what they see. Ask them what colors they see and which color they see the most.
  2. Have students point out the colors in the blanket. Explain what a symbol is and ask them to point out the symbols in the blanket/rug. Ask if they have ever seen similar symbols. If so, where? This exercise teaches students to read the image for information and relate it to previous knowledge.
  3. Share information as it is appropriate from the About the Art section. Pay special attention to the detail images in the “Details” section.
  4. After the students have listened to the information and looked at images of details from the blanket/rug, ask them to retell and describe something they have learned through a close reading of the blanket/rug. This could be something about the color, the symbols, or the people who created it. It is okay to prompt and support the students at this age.
  5. Remind students to be considerate by listening to what others are saying and not talking over one another.
  6. Try to give each student a chance to retell and describe something they have learned by looking at the blanket/rug.

Materials

  • About the Art section on the Eyedazzler Blanket/Rug (included with the lesson plan)
  • Color copies of the Eyedazzler Blanket/Rug for students to share, or the ability to project the image onto a wall or screen

Standards

CO Standards

  • Visual Arts
    • Observe and Learn to Comprehend
    • Relate and Connect to Transfer
  • Language Arts
    • Oral Expression and Listening
    • Reading for All Purposes

21st Century Skills

  • Collaboration
  • Critical Thinking & Reasoning
  • Invention
  • Self-Direction

About the Art

Eyedazzler Blanket/Rug

Eyedazzler Blanket/Rug

About 1885

Artist not known, Navajo, United States

Who Made It?

This blanket/rug was likely the work of a female Navajo artist. Loom weaving was a woman’s art among the Navajos after they learned the skill from their Pueblo neighbors in the 1600s, but today both men and women weave.

Navajo weavers are justly famous for the excellence of their textiles. This style, known as an eyedazzler because of its vivid colors and dizzying design combinations, was popular during the later years of the Transitional period in Navajo weaving (1868–90), when artists began weaving for the tourist market rather than solely for home use. Brightly colored “Germantown” yarns, widely available through newly established trading posts on the Navajo Reservation, made it possible to produce these vibrant masterpieces.

What Inspired It?

During the Transitional period (1868–90) when this blanket/rug was created, Navajo weavers began to produce patterns compatible with the tastes of traders and patrons. Eyedazzler weavings are uniquely Navajo innovations, created to take advantage of a range of commercially made colors not previously available. In some ways you can think of these artists as testing a new product on a new audience.

Although this rectangular weaving is called a blanket or a rug, the decorative fringe and cotton warp (cotton is less durable than wool) suggest that its maker knew it was more likely to be displayed on a wall for decoration than to be used.

Details

The Bold Red
The Bold Red

The red wool used throughout the background is a kind of commercially manufactured yarn called Germantown, named after a town in Pennsylvania that produced these yarns using synthetic dyes.

Saltillo Diamond
Saltillo Diamond

Navajo artists borrowed the serrated diamond motif from New Mexican Saltillo serapes. The Navajo people became familiar with the motif when they were incarcerated at Bosque Redondo in New Mexico (1863–68), where they received Saltillo-style blankets from the United States government.

Flags
Flags

Five flags appear in this eyedazzler. Notice how the artist used them to mimic the look of the American flag but not duplicate it exactly. Navajo weavers of this time often used flags in their textiles as design elements to appeal to non-Navajo customers.

Crosses
Crosses

Artists often included cross-shaped designs in their eyedazzlers. Despite the obvious association with Christianity, these designs may have been derived from traditional Navajo women’s dresses.

Funding for lesson plans provided by a grant from the Morgridge Family Foundation. Additional funding provided by the William Randolph Hearst Endowment for Education Programs, and Xcel Energy Foundation. We thank our colleagues at the University of Denver Morgridge College of Education.