Tag Archives: grade 5

Grade 5 Student

The Fifth-Grade child

Characteristics of Fifth Graders:

  • Love being designers-doing an actual assignment to design clothing, furniture, a house, and so on
  • Are eager to help; enthused about art; take responsibility; are helpful to classmates; work well in groups; are open to creative problem solving
  • Are interested in learning about new tools and techniques; are capable of  working with almost any material
  • May lose confidence in their artistic ability because their drawings arenot “real” enough or think their classmates’ projects are better
  • Tend to stay separate (boys and girls), with different interests, hobbles, activities
  • Are able to concentrate for much longer periods of time
  • Can begin to display giftedness in art; those who love art will devote long hours to it

What Fifth Graders Can Do with Materials:

  • Charcoal, pastels, pencil, colored pencil: create texture and surface interest
  • Equipment: use scissors; lino tools; cutting knives
  • Clay; make clay tiles; create boxes; do slab or coil construction; make a portion of a mural
  • Paint: tempera-make a sharp edge; watercolor- blend from light to dark, mix a variety of hues: acrylic- same skills as tempera, use intermediate tones, Payons
  • Ink  and markers: apply ink wash; display control of line: use markers with style and control
  • Paper: fold; score; cut with scissors; do controlled tearing; use joining techniques such as slits or tabs
  • Fiber arts; do batik; print; use tie-dye; stitch; use appliqué
  • Sculpture materials: create an assemblage of found materials; use papier mache and plaster-gauze: create a ceramic sculpture; create a cardboard sculpture
  • Printmaking: use line-cuts: do eraser stamping; create stamp Styrofoam images

Fifth Graders’ Understanding of Concepts:

  • Learn that sculptors are sometimes commissioned to do monumental artwork for public places
  • Respect that appropriate sculptural materials must be used, or the sculpture may disintegrate
  • Recognize the influence of geographic and climatic conditions on building materials used in private homes and public buildings
  • Compare and recognize differences in artworks from a variety of cultures
  • Recognize the artist’s intention in using images and color to create mood
  • Identify symbols, natural images, and objects used to create artworks
  • Understand and use several different ways of showing depth (overlapping differences in color and size, rudimentary perspective); recognize that light, distance, relative size, and motion affect the appearance of an object 

Suggestions for Teaching Fifth Graders:

  • Let them point out strengths and weaknesses in their artwork and changes that might improve it.
  • Introduce many different styles of art and discuss whether something has to be “real” to express the artist’s idea.
  • Assign research projects about artists.
  • Enlist students to assist in hanging artwork, organizing materials, in performing any of the art room chores.
  • Review concepts of realism, abstraction, positive and negative space, light and shadow, texture.
  • Introduce one- and two-point perspective.
  • Do group study, reporting, and projects.

Fifth-Grade Content Connections:

  • Language Arts: advertising; group work on research of famous Americans.
  • Mathematics: decimals; fractions: angles; Roman numerals: computer drawings; length (metric and feet).
    Have students work with a partner to measure a room in the school (sometimes they can measure floor tiles and figure out the total by multiplying the tiles).After they have figured the measurement out in yards and inches, have them convert it to metric standards.
    Have them learn about a horizon line and vanishing point by using converging lines to create a perspective drawing of a cityscape, giving the illus ion of space.
  • Music: classical versus popular; instrumental differences; melody, harmony, rhythm, pattern) and variation; pitch and beat; standard notational symbols.
    Find works of art from two different periods, and music from the same general eras also. Play the music, then have students select in which era they think the artwork was produced. Have them put it in words. This can lead to an interesting discussion of similarities between art and music.
  • Science: machinery (turbines, water power, pulley), habitats; human functions: astrology; flight; environmental preservation; use of the microscope, classification; nutrition.
    Have students select an environment (desert, jungle, water, air, temperate climate), then select one classification of creature that lives there- animals with fur, insects, birds, meat-eaters (carnivores), plant-eaters (herbivores). They should research how environmental change affects that creature, or if it does. They can then do a painting of the creature(s) in their habitats.
  • Social Studies: American history; cultural symbols, the environment; geography.
    Talk about visual culture. Ask students to talk about comics, video, movies, websites, and advertisements they see. Have them make a tag board “cereal box” with their name as part of the name of the product. They can make preposterous claims for what this cereal will do .Emphasize thinking about ads they see, and what they think of them.

Art Skills

Grade Five Art Skills


  • Control of the inks and the method of taking a print are important but shouldn’t overwhelm the printing process to the exclusion of all else. Creating a successful print at this age can be difficult and frustrating and too much emphasis on keeping a clean print and clean hands etc can detract from the overall process.
  • At this early stage the students can be introduced to the idea of what is a print. A print is made by pressing one surface against another, something as simple as a hand pressed into sand, tire tracks on a dirt road.
  • They can also be introduced to the idea of limited edition prints, artist’s proofs, commercial printing and the way a limited edition print is numbered, named, signed and dated. They enjoy doing this on their own work.
  • At grade 5 level the students can be introduced to foam printing and from this they can take their first limited edition prints. Foam printing is a good precursor to linoleum cutting in grade 6 and introduces the idea of relief printing.
  • Foam printing is a good follow on from any work you might be doing on drawing and line work. The most successful prints are those which have vast amounts of detail on them so students should be encouraged to create quite complex line drawings to transfer on to foam. A piece of foam about 15cm square is a good size.
  • Students can successfully produce an edition of 3 prints and an artist’s proof. For students who finish early they can be encouraged to experiment with printing on different types of paper (newspaper, pages from magazines, tissue paper, combinations of these). They get particularly good results printing over colored images. They can also experiment with coloring the images by hand,(GOOD FOR ALL THOSE UNSUCCESSFUL PRINTS) with anything they may choose or coloring the image and developing the design beyond the limitations of the print.
  • To print foam I find the most successful method is to ink up the foam then place a piece of paper on top. Use the ball of the hand to then rub over the surface. Make sure they don’t use the tips of their fingers or lots of little indentations will appear on the foam which will not print.


Introduction of elements: Line and tone – experimental use of line – different pencils + marks + media (Soft and Hard Pencils vs. Charcoal)

Introduction of Principles: Drawing in the negative – using eraser end using extreme tones (Contrast)


  • Introduction to paint brushes, make sure they are aware of the brush size numbers, differences between flat and round, and soft and stiff bristle brushes.
  • Dry Brush Method- As the name implies, you use a fairly dry brush with pigment to create detail and texture as the student pulls it across the paper surface.
  • Stippling- dots of different colors lay side by side using the tip of a brush.
  • Alternative tools such as drinking straws that can blow blobs of paint in various directions and string soaked in paint and then dragged across the paper.
  • Dry Surface Wash- This is simply color applied to dry paper. It is advisable to have the students mix up enough of the color to cover the surface, load the brush and draw it across the top of the dry paper. Continue down the paper working from side to side.


  • At this stage short cuts should be taken if necessary. Working with thread and fabric should not be viewed as tedious and time-consuming. The differing abilities of the students should be recognized and taken into account.
  • Fabrics and their different qualities. Explanation of WARP and WEFT
  • Use only large-eyed canvas needles. How to thread. Correct length of yarn; How to start off. Sewing off at the back.
  • Basic stitching. Demonstrate versatility of COUCHING method. Running stitch. Back stitch, French knots, Seeding
  • Appliqué. Use of scissors. Methods of application; sticking, overstitch, slipstitch.
  • The use of ‘unorthodox’ materials such as broken pieces of bark, palm fronds, dried leaves, wine corks, pipe-cleaners, drinking straws.
  • Beads, sequins.
  • Simple rag weaving on card looms.
  • Simple printing on cotton material. Stencil and vegetable cuts.
  • The correct return of materials such as needles and scissors.


  • Introduction to clay procedures, make sure they understand the process of firing, what the clay is like when it comes out of the kiln and the uses of a glaze to protect and to beautify the surface. Show them what the glazes look like before they go into the kiln and explain what happens in the kiln.
  • Simple rolling out of clay using rolling pins and rolling guides, introduce idea of using a paper template in order to cut out a shape correctly. A theme could be used for the shapes, animals, houses etc, Decoration of the surface using incised lines and adding on small details. Talk about crosshatching the surface to apply extra clay. Rather than just tiles they can make different shaped frames, when completed mirrors can be applied to the back. Onto this surface they can add decoration and/or impress objects.
  • Larger slabs can be folded around to make a small round/oval container. If these slabs are only about 8 cm high they are manageable. They can roll the clay over pieces of string, leaves, scrunched up paper etc. A base can be added on the next week when the “pot” has hardened slightly.
  • The flat shapes that have been cut out can be laid over a curved form such as a half pipe, to create shapes similar to roof tiles. Be careful that the clay is not too dry when they bend it, otherwise the clay will crack.
  • Experiment with rolling coils. Simple trivets can be made by overlapping the coils and threading them (leaving gaps between them) patterns can be impressed into the clay. These can be fragile so you would need to see if the class is confident enough, otherwise wait until next year. This is a good introductory activity for the coiling method; they can practice and produce something that can be finished in one lesson and be fired.
  • As above but rather than coils thin strips can be cut from rolled out slabs of clay. The rolled out slabs would need to be relatively thin.
  • Make a simple stamp out of clay. The clay should be relatively hard so as to hold its shape. These stamps can then be used straight away to print onto a sheet of paper. Apply a thin layer of paint using a brush and stamp very carefully.
  • Alternatively the stamps can be fired and then used at a later date to impress into the clay. Idea of repetition can be introduced. The stamp idea can be used in other grades as another means to produce surface decoration.


  • An introduction to color mixing, various brush types and sizes, and cleaning techniques will be covered.
  • Vocabulary of Color- The color wheel will be discussed with an emphasis on primary and secondary color scheme relationships.


  • At this age students will consolidate what they may have learned in primary grades
  • Emphasis will be on hearing about Artists and themes (using visuals) and then orally answering teacher generated questions.
  • Students are encouraged to use a wide, rich vocabulary.

Architecture Dosen’t Foil Us

Design, texture and Frank Lloyd Wright were all part of this grade five architectural unit. After an informative discussion, the students used photocopied study booklets I had pre­pared from real estate and home magazines. Each student chose a building to draw on 9×12″ (23 x 31 cm) newsprint.

I gave each student a large piece of heavy duty aluminum foil and folded it in half with the shiny side facing out. Working on a mag­azine (for cushion and smoothness), the stu­dents traced over their newsprint drawing with a dull pencil into the foil.

Concentrating on depth by angling the pencil and completely rubbing in the win­dows produced amazing pictures. The stu­dents added brick marks, stone marks and other textures.

After achieving a variety of depths and textures, the students brushed a layer of India ink over the foil and placed their pieces on newspaper to dry. During the next class, the students completed their work. Using a small piece of fine steel wool, each student buffed the foil, gently removing the top areas of ink. Ink remained in the lower areas and created an antiqued effect. Care was taken so as not to remove too much ink. Then, the students cut around their buildings and glued the piece to 9 x 12″ (23 x 31 cm) construction paper.

It was exciting to see how rich and impres­sive each piece turned out to be.

Art history: Colorful Reversals

The combination of color theory and art appreciation can be an exciting learning experience for high school art students. After spending several lessons introducing my design class to the color wheel and it’s many color schemes, I created a lesson to put theory into practice with the aid of a collection of art reproductions.

To begin, students chose a masterpiece from a group of photocopied black-and-white reproduc­tions. The group contained works composed of large, bold shapes—easy for students to enlarge, then reproduce. Students enlarged and redrew the main pieces of their chosen masterpieces on 12″ > 18″ (30 cm » 46 cm) pieces of oak tag, puzzle style, so that the pieces could later be cut apart and used as patterns for tracing. Throughout this process, students were not allowed to refer to the colored reproductions. This presented their next challenge—to select a color scheme appro­priate for their recreations, whether it be warm, cool, primary, secondary or complementary.

After deciding on color, students traced the oak tag puzzle pieces onto fadeless art paper. Suddenly, transformed into bold, exciting color schemes, the black-and-white masterpieces took on life. The atmosphere of the art room began to transform as well.

As the final pieces of the recreations were glued with rubber cement, the students then referred to the color versions of the originals. Some students were surprised to see that their color schemes were very similar to those of the originals; others were very different.

As a final activity to the project, students were asked to complete an overview of both masterpiece and creator using library resources, enhancing their knowledge and appreciation of the work they chose to reproduce. The results of this project were visually dramatic. Each student not only began to better acquainted with a chosen artist and his style but also gained a deeper understanding of color.

Cut Paper: Career Education Exemplified

Career education deserves emphasis in the elementary school curriculum. AN idea for part of a classroom study, each child chose a busi­ness, obtained its address from the library and wrote for its annual report. When the annual reports arrived, we examined them and cut out photos of people performing jobs typical of that business. These annual reports are printed on high-quality paper, with quality color photographs-a natural for display. Rather than simply hanging up representative pictures from each report, we decided to use the photomontage technique and cover a bulletin board with these pho­tos. We also included magazine and news­paper photos showing men and women in professions that might not be illustrated in the annual reports.

Next, we looked at each picture to see how different people were dressed for their tasks. We also thought of jobs that might not be represented in our display. Each child picked a job or profession he or she would like to illustrate. We made life-size models by tracing each child on brown craft paper, then stapling and stuffing the model with newspaper. Appropriate clothing was drawn on and then painted. The white-coated lab technician, the oil-rig operator, the farmer, the jackhammer operator, the corporate lawyer and the computer programmer were all represented. Some particularly ambitious children put tools of the trade in the work­er’s hands.

To share the fruits of our learning and our labor, we taped a thin clothesline to the hall wall and hung each outfit with clothespins. A note of explanation accompanied each outfit. We titled our display, “What Will Our Line of Work Be?” It is said that “discovery favors the prepared mind.” This early intro­duction to career planning will help our chil­dren discover what career or careers they might like to pursue.

Painting: Dotty About Seurat

Pointillism is rich in possibilities for teachers to incorporate science, art history and color theory into an exciting art lesson.

I began with optics. A square of black paper is placed on white and stared at for one minute. When one looks away, a white square drifts across the eyes; a phenomenon called negative after-image. The eye seeks to balance what it sees by producing the opposite color. A square of paper placed on white and stared at for one minute pro­duces a halo around the square as the eye creates the complement of red — green.

Seurat and other artists of the era, experimented with the idea of breaking a color surface into tiny dots of color. The result was a richer, more subtle color area that shimmered in the viewer’s eye. Seu­rat took this concept further by placing dots of pure color next to each other pro­ducing secondary colors inside the eye. Seurat’s use of dots or points of color gave this technique the name of pointillism.

Using water-based markers, students draw at least two foods and a drink on 9’x 12″ paper using only dots. A plate and silverware is included in the composition and the background filled in with dots. Everyone uses two or more colors in each color area to create a more interesting palette. The hardest part is to show the edges of objects without drawing a line.

A week of pointillism produced spec­tacular results. Students learned art isn’t always made up of lines; lots of dots can make a picture vibrate in the viewer’s eye. I think Seurat would have approved!

Drawing: Fruit Facials

As children progress from the primary to the intermediate grades they often develop a fear of drawing people- -especially portraits. Often this is because they see only the most obvious facial features—two eyes, a nose and a mouth. It’s essential that they also perceive the subtle character of cheek bones, the shape of the chin and forehead areas, the hairline, eye cavities, etc. To enhance these perceptions, I asked each student to bring a political cartoon to class. Political cartoons tend to exaggerate the facial features, making them easier to see

Using an overhead projector, I projected a sample cartoon on the wall and had students carefully divide the face into shapes. The students then substituted fruits and vegetables in the shapes according to their appropriate size, shape and texture. Sometimes a section or part of a fruit or vegetable was used instead of the whole thing

The students then did a drawing of a person’s face, using the cartoons as a reference, and substituting fruits and vegetables for various facial features.