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Lesson 1

Lesson 2
Social Studies

Lesson 3
Visual Arts
Art Making

Lesson 4
Black History

Lesson 5
Black Artists

Lesson 6
Music & Dance

Lesson 7


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Paul Hillman

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Lesson Four: Reading and Art Making Activity

Lesson Overview:

  • The second part of Lesson Four is to read the book, Harriet and The Promised Land by Jacob Lawrence, in the "Circle of Power".
  • The teacher facilitates discussion concerning the character traits of the heroine in the story. (The themes of the story are self-determination and courage.)
  • The students will then be asked to "remember, reflect and respond" concerning someone they know or admire as a hero or heroine. This activity may occur over two different blocks of time.
  • The participants will be encouraged to take note of some of the artist's techniques in presenting the emotion and character of the heroine.
  • Some discussion may also occur concerning the Underground Railroad.
  • Finally the children will be asked to create their own drawing using primary, prisma colored pencils on light blue or gray construction paper to create their hero or heroine in an action state.
  • They will also be encouraged to talk about the artwork they created.
  • These drawings will be displayed.

Materials Needed:

  1. The book by Jacob Lawrence, Harriet and the Promised Land.
  2. Light colored blue or gray construction paper
  3. Primary color, prisma colored pencils

Student Activities facilitated by the teacher:

  1. This activity can be guided by a homeroom teacher, art teacher or librarian. It fulfills the criteria for the Arizona Art Education Standards, listed in Lesson Three lesson plan.
  2. It may take two class periods to complete.
  3. First read the book to the children in the "Circle of Power" (a traditional storytelling circle) Use the rhyme to develop fluency with the children. This is both a book about a real person (Biography) and poetry.
  4. Introduce the artist, Jacob Lawrence, as also the writer (information on the back, inside book jacket).
  5. The "Introduction" by Jacob Lawrence will first be read to give background information about the story and Harriet Tubman.
  6. Have the children note the use of bright colors, like the traditional Yoruba art, they have already seen and experienced. Review the concept of the "Hot" colors and the "Cool" colors and their meaning, while reading the story.
  7. Have the children describe the images on each page. Are they realistic? Do the figures present emotion on their faces and in their expressions? Look at Harriet's hand size as she is pointing the way for the slaves to move to freedom. (Explain that artists communicate important ideas by what they show and how they show it.)
  8. Have the children review the story of Harriet and the reason why she is a heroine. (She was courageous, determined, honest, trustworthy. She persevered and challenged those ways of living that she did not believe were just.)
  9. Talk about what the word "hero" and "heroine" mean. Ask the children to list some of these persons they know, and why they are important people.
  10. Have the children "remember and reflect" to their choice of a hero or heroine and then using the prisma pencils "respond", creating their action scene drawing their character.
  11. Have the students, stand up and talk briefly about their hero or heroine.
  12. Exhibit the youths' artworks in a public space.

Ideas to discuss about what makes an individual a hero or heroine:

  1. Theses are usually people who have been very brave or courageous and acted in a manner that has helped people, with no regard for their own safety.
  2. This person can be a very important person or it can be a friend or family member that the participant thinks is very special.
  3. Depending upon the culture that the student comes from, it may be someone that other students do not know because this individual lives in a far off land.
  4. Heroes and heroines are often remembered after they have died and are honored after their death. Songs, movies, poems, books and plays may be created to remember them and their acts of bravery.

Go to the bibliography for this lesson to view the internet resources used to create this art making activity.