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Sowa’s Ark





Title – “Sowa’s Ark”
By – Stephanie Slatner
Primary Subject – Art
Grade Level – 3rd


Written For Grade: 3
Number of Students: 25


3.8 – The student will identify and use foreground, middle ground, and background in two-dimensional works of art.

Discipline Area:

Art Production


Size, position and overlapping can create a sense of depth on a two-dimensional surface.

Structure of Knowledge:

  • Cognitive: The student will understand and use overlapping, size, and position on a two dimensional surface.
  • Affective: The student will explore with the idea of a three dimensional object on a two dimensional surface.
  • Psychomotor: The student will draw onto paper and be able to carefully cut around each object on the paper.
  • Activity: The students are going to create three separate drawings all showing depth and combine them to create a three dimensional diorama.

Tools; Special Equipment; Supplies:

  • Construction Paper
  • Oil Pastels
  • Scissors
  • Staplers (one per table if possible)


  • Foreground – Object closest to you are farthest down on the picture plane
  • Middle Ground – Center plane of the artwork, horizon line
  • Background – top of artwork shows continuation of space

Lesson Design:

  • Anticipatory Set/Motivation:
    Student will be shown a work by Michael Sowa, “On the Road” and “Sowa’s Ark” and talk about what is in the foreground, middle ground, and background. We will discuss the meaning of each word and how we could use it in our own artwork to make it appear to have depth.          
  • Modeling/Demonstration:
    Show the students how they can blend the oil pastels to create a ground or clouds, and show them how each of the three papers will fit together. Talk about how each “layer” should be different sizes and ideas, but should have the same theme.
  • Checks for Understanding:
    What are we going to do first? Where should the biggest object on the piece be? If you wanted to make something you were drawing look far away, what could you do to make it work?

Guided Practice/Independent Practice:

Students will work on all three drawings. The lower (and smaller) pieces will be cut out to show outline on the top, and then all three will be stapled together at the ends.


Collection of scissors, paper scraps, oil pastels, and staplers.


The kids are encouraged to volunteer to show their art to the class and talk about what they decided to put into the foreground, middle ground, and/or background.

Time Flow: 43 Minutes Total

Motivation 3 minutes
Demonstration: 3 minutes
Check for Understanding: 3 minutes
Artistic Activity: 25 minutes
Cleanup: 5 minutes
Closure, Summation: 4 minutes

Back-up Lesson:

Students will draw a picture containing foreground, middle ground, and background on a piece of construction paper.


The papers will be different lengths…



The ends will be matched up so that they are equal which will make the two longer pieces in the back bend out, creating layers when you look at in head on. The shorter two being cut out on top will show the layer behind it… etc.

E-Mail Stephanie Slatner!

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