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This Expressionism lesson is part of a Thanksgiving project-based multidisciplinary learning plan


Art, Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies  



Title – Thanks a Lot
By – Paula Hrbacek
Primary Subject – Art
Secondary Subjects – Science, Language Arts, Social Studies, Math 
Grade Level – 3


    This art lesson is part of a project-based multidisciplinary learning plan.


    The students will draw with crayons on paper, observing a still life of a cornucopia or baskets of fruits and vegetables, to create placemats or greeting card to be given to a retirement home. The artwork will use the entire page well, and will have a reasonable resemblance of the observed fruit, including correct shapes and colors.


    The students will learn about the food pyramid, and a balanced diet. The students will hypothesize why popcorn explodes, and will observe popcorn exploding in an electric skillet, watching the steam escape from the vent.

Language Arts

    The students will use words that rhyme to write a poem about being thankful, and will glue it to the center of their placemat or greeting card that they made in art.

Social Studies

    The students will learn about the first Thanksgiving, what foods were eaten and how the pilgrims celebrated it.


    The students will use cognitive skills to decide what they are thankful for, and will create a cornucopia out of construction paper, and will write one item that they are thankful for on each fruit or vegetable in the picture. The students will discuss what giving thanks means, and various ways to thank God and people.

Math Learning Center

      The students will roll one die to see how many pilgrims or Indians come to their table. They will read the number on the die, and place cards with faces on them into a grid that represents a table that seats twelve people. They will write the fraction of the table they filled on an answer sheet, and will continue play until their table is full. All of their fractions will be reduced to the lowest denominator.

    The students will use cardboard “Pumpkin Pies” to practice fractions based on 1/12, and will answer questions on a sheet that ask for fractions equal to ½, ¾, 1/6, 1/3, 2/3, 5/6, 1/3, 1/4 .


    The students will choose an Accelerated Reader book from selected titles about fall, early America and Thanksgiving, and will pass a computerized test with a score of 80 percent or more.

Reading Activity Center

    The students will practice social skills by playing “War of the Words”, a card game like “War” where polite, kind words are better than rude, mean words. If the students needs to verify if the words are polite or impolite, he will use prior knowledge of punctuation marks to tell if the words are calm (polite) or angry (mean). (See game cards below.)

Spelling Activity Center

    The students will generate a list of words using the letters in the phrase “Thanksgiving Treats”. The list will have at least 15 words that are correctly spelled.


    Subject: Art     Grade: 3     Title: Expressionism     Single Lesson Duration: 40 min.


    This art lesson plan is a part of “Thanks a Lot,” a project-based learning plan.


    Expressionism is the next movement after Impressionism. Cézanne painted still life arrangements with intense colors, dark outlines, and repeated shapes.


    The students will learn about Expressionism and will create a drawing of a still life using this style.


      1.2 The student creates and communicates a range of subject matter, symbols and ideas using knowledge of structures and functions of visual arts.

      2. understands what makes different art media, techniques and processes effective or ineffective in communicating ideas.

    3. knows how to identify the intentions of those creating works of art.



      1. Crayons
      2. Paper (legal or double sheet size)
      3. Still life arrangements of fruit in baskets
      4. Poster of Cézanne’s still life, and other Expressionist works


        The theme that we are working on is about giving thanks. Thanks is an emotion, something you feel. There is a movement in art that was about that, too. Expressionism was a movement or style of art that explored how color affects the way you feel.


        Expressionism was the next movement after Impressionism. It explored how color and contrast affects the way you feel when you look at the artwork. It was known for intense colors (not always the colors in nature), repeated shapes, and strong contrast. Cezanne used dark outlines in his work to make his shadows really dark. It is almost like a coloring book, but the purpose of using such dark outlines was to make the colors of the objects pop, or seem more vivid. Here are some examples of Expressionism. How do you feel when you look at them? Can you see an emotion, or do you feel an emotion?


      Before class, set up still life arrangements of baskets of fruit. Use baskets, trays, and fruits that have repeated shapes. After discussing Expressionism, the students will draw from the arrangements. Show them how to sketch lightly. Because Expressionism uses such wide and dark outlines, they can make adjustments to the sketch, and work it in by covering it with a thick layer of crayon.


The artwork uses the Expressionist style of:
dark outlines:  
vivid colors:  
repeated shapes:  
The artwork uses the whole page well:  


    If there aren’t enough still life arrangements, or a student can’t get to one, they may draw from the posters or art prints.


    Students who finish early may make a note card using the same style.

War of the Words Card Game

Play like war.

Polite words are more powerful than impolite words. If you aren’t sure, check the punctuation to see if the words are nice or angry.

Thank You

Ooooh! Yuck!

I love you.

You jerk!

I’m sorry.

Look what you made me do!

Can I help you?

Get out of my face!

May I?

Give me that!

I hate you!

Let’s play.

Would you mind?

I like you.

You’re so nice.

Thank you.


Shut up!


Allow me.

Hand it over!

You go first.

Move it!

Yes, Sir.

Yes, Ma’am.

No way!


I won’t!


No, thank you.

Excuse me.

Pardon me.

Talk to the hand!

You go girl.

Very good.

You’re cool.

High five.

E-Mail Paula Hrbacek !

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