Tag Archives: grade 6

Grade 6 Student

The Sixth Grade Student

Characteristics of Sixth Graders:

  • Know everything, or think they do, but still quite open to new experiences
  • Are interested in learning about artists, why their work looks the way it does, what contemporary artists are doing; have begun to form a real opinion on certain kinds of art and artists
  • Experience dramatic mood swings because of physical and emotional changes; seek peer approval
  • Have a short attention span at times
  • Display a preadolescent interest in music, language, videos, movies, television
  • Often prefer being by themselves, independent of adults
  • Respond positively, and are proud to see their work on display

What Sixth Graders can do with materials and technology:

  • Drawing Media: use charcoal, pencil, pastel, or oil pastel; draw an object from observation; apply tip or side of media firmly or softly
  • Clay: sculpture a bust; make boxes; do slab or coil construction
  • Paint: mix colors in all paint media; overlap and smoothly blend colors
  • Ink: control ink wash; make line drawings
  • Paper: create a sculpture; use three-dimensional forms; make origami folds
  • Fiber arts: use batik; print; create tie-dye; tie simple knots; wrap; weave; do beading; stitch; use appliqué
  • Sculpture materials: use assemblage; use papier mache; make a cardboard relief; sculpt with paper or pulp; use found materials; cut paper
  • Printmaking: make a monoprint, a collagraph, or a string print
  • Technology: create different kinds of lines using general computer software; take digital photographs or use a disposable camera

Suggestions for teaching Sixth Graders:

  • Base as many projects as you can on self (self-portrait, human form). Have them create realistic portrait.
  • Help develop abstract thinking through giving several different three-dimensional projects.
  • Help students be able to look at a work and identify into which of the following categories it most logically fits: reality, expressing feelings, elements and principles, and serving a purpose.
  • Conduct aesthetic discussions about nonrealistic works of art. Talk about how different coulters have  different ideas about what is beautiful . Students may respond negatively to unfamiliar artwork from other cultures or time periods because of their personal experiences or what their friends may think.
  • Take them outside the classroom to draw houses, buildings, people, cars, playground equipment.
  • Help them progress sufficiently in their art skills so they will want to continue learning, rather than concluding that because they may  not draw realistically, they are not “artists”.
  • Find out what they know and understand about art and artists; have ongoing discussions about the influence of society on the type of art that is created and the place of the artist in society.
  • Interest them in art from other cultures and trying their hand at similar projects.
  • Introduce them to making posters, teaching the use of balance, space, and emphasis.
  • Motivate through encouraging fantasy art or depicting imaginative experiences; they should be very interested in Surrealism.
  • Make handmade books to be used for journals.

Sixth Grade content connections:

  • Language Arts: art journals; poetry related to artworks; literature from other cultures; oral directions. Have students research and make a visual report on the life of an artist, then present it orally to the class.
    Have one person describe a work of art to the class, which the others may not see. They are to draw what they think it looks like based on what they hear.
  • Mathematics: measuring; geometric figures; scale drawing; rations and proportions; fractions; area; volume; perimeter.
    Have students draw a floor plan of their room or home to scale.
    Have them “enlarge a masterpiece.” They can use a magazine photo or postcard, with the ratio one quarter inch equals two feet.
  • Music: jazz, orchestral theater, classical and contemporary music; musical vocation.
    Have students select music and art from the same culture, then compare them and find similarities and differences.
  • Science: weather; geology; climate; natural resources; magnetism; nuclear energy; human organisms; genes and chromosomes; substance abuse; aviation; space exploration.
    This is the perfect age for biological information about the human organism. Students can draw their own hand or foot from direct observation.
    Have them cut a piece of blue or black construction paper into eight small pieces. They can use chalk to draw cumulous, stratus, cirrus, and nimbus clouds. They should glue each small piece onto a piece of paper, identify it, give the altitude at which it is generally found, and describe the appearance (example: fluffy storm clouds).
  • Social Studies: the ancient world; current events; environmental concerns; animal rights; their county’s heritage.
    Students can learn to identify the characteristics of works from Greece, Rome, Egypt, or or locations in Africa or Asia. They can compare and contrast similar works from two entirely different cultures, discussing theme or cultural context.
    Have them study African empires, dividing research on agriculture, arts.

Art Skills

Grade Six Art Skills


  • Drawing in the negative – Making and using extreme tones (Chalks/Pastels)
  • Making and using pattern
  • Line quality in relation to media
  • Recording from direct observation natural/ constructed (man-made) forms – Art Nouveau

Painting methods and techniques:
An introduction to the application and progression of the paint through the use of various techniques and materials will be covered.

Vocabulary of Color- A continuation to previous knowledge learnt with an emphasis to analogous and complementary color scheme relationships.

  • Scrumbling– This method can easily be called scrubbing, take a loaded brush with color and flatten it while rotating it in a circular motion as you apply the paint. The texture of the paper will show through the paint.
  • Splattering– Coat the top of a tooth brush or flat brush with pigment, hold over selected area and run finger over the bristles. Surround areas that do not want this technique with paper.
  • Starbursts– Lay a wash of color and while the paint is still wet, drop in blobs of a second color. The resulting mixture will create soft starburst effects.
  • Cotton Buds or Rounded Brush– dipped into clean water and rubbed on moist paint or dry water color paint to lift it. This is useful to reveal white paper from a painted surface.
  • Laying a broken color– Load a brush with undiluted paint and draw the brush lightly across the surface of the canvas.
  • Flat wash– First dampen the paper (for watercolor painting) and then have students mix plenty of your chosen color. Load a large flat brush with paint and take it across the paper in one stroke. Load the brush again and work back in the opposite direction, picking up the excess water from the previous line. Continue until the whole area is covered.


Textiles and creative embroidery:

The emphasis should be on exploration and discovery. The effect and impact of
color relationships, limited color schemes. Repetition, composition.

  • Properties of fabrics. Hessian, denim, calico, canvas, cotton sheeting.
  • How to stretch fabric onto a wooden frame.
  • Gluing methods.
  • Introduction to Resist methods: tie and dye. One color.
  • More advanced stitches, couching and appliqué methods. Working stitches into layers. How to make multi-colored cords.
  • Combination of fabric paint, dye and yarn on fabric.
  • Introduction to fabric manipulation.
  • Rag weaving, with the inclusion of shells, card shapes, tree bark etc.
  • Reinforcement of fabrics and their different qualities
  • Method of stretching fabric onto a frame or table
  • More stitches
  • Introduction to resist methods: tie and dye
  • Introduction to Fabric Manipulation
  • More advanced rag weaving
  • More advanced printing

Introduction to clay methods and techniques:

  • Reinforcement of previous knowledge.
  • Making and joining of two or more thumb pots.
  • Use of slip to decorate a surface, scgraffito.
  • Using coils to make a coil pot, introduce burnishing.
  • Glazing of a large area using pouring technique.
  • Thumb pots on own and joined together with air in the middle. This shape can then successfully be manipulated without imploding. Pieces of clay can be added on to make characters, human or animal. Reinforce idea of using cross-hatching to attach clay to surface.
  • Six thumb pots can be made and joined together to make 3 pebble pots (two pots joined together as above) Whilst still malleable enough to manipulate without breaking “squash” them into each other to make an interesting sculpture but still keeping the pots as separate entities. Each surface can be decorated differently. One may have a scratched design, another with slip trailing etc.
  • Use one thumb pot as a starting point and then add on coils to create small containers; again these can be decorated using a variety of different techniques.
  • Design and make a coil pot. Research into Ancient Greek pots to help them produce an interesting design. These can be made large and then surface can be burnished to show off the shape. Patterns can then be scratched into the surface.
  • A variety of beads and clay disks can be made; decoration can be impressed onto flat disks onto both sides. Beads can be rolled into textured surfaces, sand etc. Make two holes into the disks, one at the top and one at the bottom. Glazing can be difficult with such shapes so they can be left and simply fired to a higher temperature with no glaze addition, although some oxides could be used. Each child would need to make about 20 different sizes and types so that when completed they could make a group hanging, or several in smaller groups. Themes could be used to make shapes more interesting or topical.
  • Consider similar idea to above but aim to thread them onto upright metal poles. The shapes could be bigger and holes can go upright through them.


  • Introduction to lino printing, one color.
  • Looking at line, shape, positive/negative space.
  • Looking at safety with lino tools, reversed nature of this type of printing, how to transfer to lino
  • Introduction to color blending of inks, different printing surfaces


  • Having learned about Artists and their contexts during 5th grade, students are ready to bring this into writing.
  • Classroom discussions about Artists and themes/movements continue, and then move to writing using the three parts listed above.
  • A half page will be the norm. Two images, related to the writing, will be on the page.
  • Particular attention is paid to research methods that do not include plagiarism.

Architecture in releif

The problem the students had to solve was to create an example of architecture by using pieces of yarn, reed, toothpicks, straws, etc., and outline their original sketch on a piece of cardboard. The architecture could be a detail of an existing architectural style from Egyp­tian, Greek, Roman, and Gothic time periods. or they could mix various innovations to come up with their own personal style. Often the students had to tape the reed in place to bend the lines into a dome or tower. They would glue the reed down then remove the tape when the glue dried.

At this stage the students would take a piece of aluminum foil and cover the entire piece of cardboard. It is not necessary to glue the foil down but students should take the time to press around their relief buildings carefully to avoid ripping the foil.

Students can finish by painting their con­structions.

Design: Calendar Showcase

After introducing sixth grade students to the idea of calendars as showcases for images and a means of promotion, have them sketch illustrations on pre-printed calendar forms. The sketches were critiqued for their effective use of space, amount of detail in the image, expressiveness of the image, and effectiveness of relationships between various elements. Once the sketches are acceptable, they can be drawn over with a medium point felt tipped marker in preparation for printing.

Six different sketches for each month were selected and sent to our school district printing center for production. After the calendar month sheets were reproduced in quantity, each student selected one sketch for each month to decorate and color using various techniques, including pencils, crayons and col­ored felt-tipped markers

Holes were punched on the top of each cal­endar and they were tied and hung with yarn We used the results of our “time keeping” as holiday and New Year’s gifts for faculty, family, neighbors and friends—many became prized locker decorations. Our calendar project met with overwhelming success and it has become a highly effective way to show people what goes on when children, art media, art teachers and good ideas work together.

Color Unit

Color unit
7 lessons

Main Artist: Wassily Kandinsky Supporting Artists: Klee, Miro

Drawing Skills: Geometric, free-form shape association to experiences

Other Concepts: Overlapping, placement, negative space, group participation
Relation to Curriculum: Emotive color, group project

This lesson will have the students relate summer experiences to shapes and colors,
various musical pieces to art, and a group project to an emotion.


1. Welcome/seating plan/ Expectations/give out sketch books/ go once around for students to describe an event they had during the summer/ distribute paper and pencils/ on back instruct students to list three events during the summer that was exciting, fun and interesting and three events that was a tribulation, a setback and draining/ Have students on other side draw a shape to represent each of those events/ Have students add a color(s) that they feel best represents each of those experiences

Terms: Geometric/Free-form shapes/Overlapping

Materials: pencils/colored pencils/A1 paper

2. Review work from week one/provide information pertaining to colors and their psychological/society meanings/ Introduce works by Kandinsky and Klee have students describe work with personal views/distribute materials of four sheets of paper, watercolors, water, two various sized brushes/have students create 4 works of art from four different types of music (w/o words) 5-8 minutes each

3. Review artists and shapes and meanings of color to other cultures/Allow visual examples for student reference/Group project/ students provide examples of various emotions that are written on board/ put students into groups of 3-4/talk about group dynamics, compromise, and participation/ each group choose an emotion/group chooses their large colored base paper from variety of colors/group writes down names and emotion chosen of back of paper/each person in the group then chooses two smaller sheets of paper from a variety of
Colors/ supply scissors and glue/ direct students to then cut or tear their sheets of paper to represent the emotion chosen/ suggest placement, overlapping, and negative space from the tom sheets of paper/ students then apply their shapes onto the large base paper

4. Review work from previous week review concepts of artists, colors, group dynamics, and the project of emotion/ provide visual examples of artists work for students to refer to/ gather students in their groups and supply them with oil pastels/ students then complete their project using that material/Critique of work as a class by trying to determine which emotion was used by each group and determine the successful parts and parts that would need improving/ Brainstorm for final work, refer to week one and two projects/Kandinsky /Klee/color to other cultures

5. Final project with the use of a self chosen emotion! use of various materials (see
Week 3 and 4)

6. Continue and complete final project! extra- choose opposite emotion/or teacher
Chosen! Group critique of individual works

7. Write evaluation of project: how was your project like Kandinsky/Klee? What were The reasons for the color choices, composition? How did you overcome difficulties?

Contour Line Drawing Exercise

Choose four mechanical objects that are provided for you to create a contour line drawing.  Make sure to draw each object’s outline and no details on the inside, or use of shading.

  • Have each object run off the edge of the side of the paper.
  • Do not overlap any of the objects.
  • Paint in the areas around the objects. You may choose your own color schemes.

To make a contour drawing you draw only the edges or outlines of the shapes you see. There is no shading.


  • Choose a point on the subject you are observing and place your pencil on your paper. For example’s sake, let’s say that you are drawing a teacup. As you look at the point on the cup imagine that your pencil touching the paper is actually your finger touching the observed point on the cup.
  • Begin tracing the outlines of the cup with your eye. Move very slowly and observe carefully. Now, try to get your eye and your hand working in tandem. As your eye follows the curve of the handle, imagine your finger tracing the same path as your pencil moves along the paper. If your eye moves in a curve to the left, your pencil should move in a curve to the left. If your eye stops moving or looks away, your pencil should stop moving or come off of the paper. Never move your pencil unless your eyes are moving along the contours of the cup.

Kachina Dolls

Hopi kachina figures are visual representa­tions of an essential part of Hopi life. As spirits who visit the Hopi people for seven months each year, kachinas serve as intermediaries between the Hopi and their deities, carrying prayers for favorable weather and a bountiful harvest. Hopi religion reflects their depend­ence upon agriculture tor survival in a dry and rugged climate. Religious ceremonies empha­size the ever-present need for rain and good growing conditions.

The most visible and important religious ceremonies are performed by masked and costumed men, who take on the spirits of the kachinas they represent. They sing and dance as a group to call attention to the harmony of purpose and communal responsibility neces­sary for the gods to hear their prayers. Clowns often appear at these ceremonies to provide comic relief between dances and songs. They satirize Hopi life by acting out and exaggerat­ing improper behavior. In a humorous way, the clowns, like the more serious kachinas, help maintain community harmony by remind­ing people of the acceptable standards of be­havior within the Hopi community.

Carved figures, such as David Phillips’ “Ko­share” clown (shown in this month’s center-spread poster), represent the characters that appear in these religious ceremonies. Often called “kachina dolls,” these figures tradition­ally are given to children during kachina cere­monies. These “dolls” are not toys, but are used to teach children the characteristics of each kachina and the importance of the ka­chinas to the continuing survival of the Hopi community.

Since the beginning of this century, when non-Indians began to take a strong interest in traditional American Indian arts, these figures have also been made for sale to people out­side the Hopi community. However, certain kachinas are considered to be too sacred to represent in figures made for sale. As humor­ous rather than sacred figures, clowns are popular with carvers and collectors.

David Phillips’ clown figure reflects tradition­al costuming and mannerisms and the traditional method of making these figures. Carved from dried Cottonwood root found in desert washes, “kachina dolls” are made mostly in one piece, with projecting details attached with glue or pegs. Paints made from colored clays, minerals and vegetable dyes were used formerly to decorate the figures; these have been replaced by commercial paints, most re­cently acrylics. After painting, hair, garments, feathers and other accessories may be at­tached. Phillips’ clown appears in the tradi­tional costume of one particular type of clown.  The “Hanno Clown” or “Koshare:” black-and-white striped body paint, a headdress with two striped horns, a breech cloth {here made of felt), a white cotton sash, a leather bag hang­ing from the neck, and leather bands at the knees and wrists.

The humor of this clown is augmented by its contemporary accessories-the guitar and tennis shoes. As a traditional figure with such modern attributes, this figure reflects both continuity and change within the Hopi com­munity. Non-Indian cultural influences have been of some benefit to the Hopi, but also have threatened their very survival as a culture and as a people. This clown is both entertain­ing and poignant in its humor. Is the artist pok­ing fun here at the cultural mix and the effects of outside influence that are contemporary realities for the Hopi? Like the clown it repre­sents, could this clown be a gentle reminder of the acceptable limits for adopting the behavior of non-Indian culture?


Though figure carving is a centuries old tradi­tion among the Hopi, the style of these figures has changed over time, and changed most dramatically during this century. The earliest figures are stiff and blocky, with large mask-shaped heads and summarily indicated body parts. Perhaps in response to non-Indian in­terest, figures began to be increasingly articu­lated around the turn of the century. Masks worn by these figures-have features that con­vey their identity and clothing show more decorative detail.

During the 1930’s, some carvers introduced more realistic proportions, more detail and brighter colors, as well as a sense of move­ment in their figures. After World War II, many Hopi men returned home from serving in the United States armed forces throughout the world. They brought back new ideas, exper­iences and perspectives that influenced their communities’ artistic traditions. Figures from this time on show more variation in costumes, accessories and poses. Arms and legs are separated from the body and rendered as muscular forms, and even fingers are fully ar­ticulated.

New trends in style and form that were origi­nally initiated by non-Indian interest have tak­en hold in figures carved for religious rituals as well as in those made for sale to outsiders. Figures like David Phillips’ clown show out­side influence not only in the costume and accessories of the non-Hopi world, but also in their style.

David Phillips’ fully articulated figure is an example of the most recent style of figure carv­ing. In comparison, another music-making “koshare” or “Hano Clown” illustrates an older style of figure. This clown dances and holds a horn to his mouth in movements that are stiffer than those of David Phillips’ more freely exu­berant, guitar-strumming figure. Though both clowns have fully delineated, rounded arms and legs, Phillips’ figure shows the more real­istically rendered musculature of the contem­porary style. Both clowns wear the traditional black-and-white striped body paint and homed headdress, black breech cloth, and wrist and knee bands, but the older clown con­forms to tradition by wearing the expected red leather moccasins rather than the surprising, more modern tennis shoes worn by Phillips’ innovative and endearing figure.

Key concepts

1. An art form can be a visual symbol for com­monly recognized cultural concepts.
2. Artists sometimes create amusing or enter­taining images that also contain more seri­ous meanings.
3. Within the boundaries of an artistic tradition, forms and styles change and develop over time in response to a variety of influences.
4. An artist can combine traditional and con­temporary symbols to create an image that is part of an artistic tradition and that also speaks to its own time.

Suggested activities


1. Hopi clowns poke fun at Hopi society and provide comic relief in serious situations. Discuss various types of clowns. What do clowns from the students’ own cultures look like? What kinds of modern attire might they wear to add humor to their role? Have students make and decorate their own clown figures from clay, papier-mache or fabric over wire. Clay and papier-mache fig­ures can be painted with tempera or acryl­ics, or glazes can be used on clay figures.
2. Use Hopi kachinas as a means to explore the connection between cultural activities and the environment. Discuss the relation­ship of Hopi kachinas and their attributes to their role in bringing good weather. What kinds of activities take place where you live that relate to your weather conditions and environment? Ask students to think about what kinds of spirit figures they might make to bring good weather to your geographical area. What kinds of symbols would these figures carry? Have students make or draw figures that would bring rain, snow, sun, etc.
3. Older students can work in small groups to make up a story or ritual of their own time and place. Have students make and ar­range a grouping of figures that represents their story or ritual. Figures can be made of clay, papier-mâché or wire. Ask students to explain how their grouping of characters conveys the message of the story or ritual it portrays.
4. Show students pictures of additional carved Hopi figures. Discuss the relationship of carved figures that show movement to actu­al performers in motion. Have students make masks or costumes and perform a series of movements appropriate to the fig­ures represented.


1. Show students other traditional Hopi ka-china and clown “dolls.” Explore with stu­dents the ways that David Phillips’ clown is a traditional figure reinterpreted for modern day life. What might the artist be saying about Hopi culture in the 1980’s? What do our dolls teach us about our culture? Have students make dolls that represent some aspect of their own time and place using clay, papier-mâché, wood or wire. Have students think about what attributes their figures should have. What would such a figure wear? What would it hold? What would its hair look like? How would it move? Have students talk about finished figures as individual pieces and as a group. What do these figures say about contem­porary life?
2. Discuss with students the role of the clown in Hopi kachina ceremonies, and in the stu­dents’ own culture. Have students look for images of clowns from other cultures, and develop a cross-cultural comparison of clowning. Who are the clowns of contempo­rary culture in the United States? Have stu­dents paint, draw or make sculptural im­ages of their own cultural clowns.
3. Hopi artists have painted images of kachina ceremonies in their village settings that cap­ture the rhythm and movement of the per­former. Discuss the ways that two-dimen­sional and three-dimensional images can depict figures in motion. Ask students to work in groups to depict a ceremony or rit­ual that is important to them. Where does this activity take place? How do figures move within their setting as part of this activ­ity? Have students created a large-scale mu­ral or drawing of this activity, or make indi­vidual figures and arrange them as a group. Students within the group can take turns modeling the various movements they wish to depict.