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Do Something about… School Violence Art Curricula Unit
Day 1: Shape and Feeling
Art, Social Studies
9, 12, 11, 10
Title – Do Something about…
School Violence Art Curricula Unit
Day 1: Shape and Feeling
By – Do Something, Inc.
Primary Subject – Art
Secondary Subjects – Social Studies
Grade Level – 9-12
Do Something about…
The following lesson is the first lesson of a 15-day
School Violence Art Curricula Unit from Do Something, Inc.
Other lessons in this unit are as follows:
|Day 1: Shape and Feeling (See lesson below)
Students explore the use of abstract shapes and the feelings they evoke
|Day 2: The Emotional Aspects Of Color
The students learn about the emotional and physiological affects of color
|Day 3: Jackson Pollack – Lines Convey Emotion
Jackson Pollack – Students explore the use of line to convey emotion
|Day 4: Goya and Picasso – Shapes And Composition
Goya and Picasso – The students w explore two paintings and their use of shapes
|Day 5: Power Of Language
Students will explore the power of words in art
|Day 6: Tree Of Decisions
Students explore different choices and outcomes and use the branching pattern
|Day 7: Conversations And Arguments With Lines
Students learn to use visual language to have a conversation
|Day 8: Keith Haring Figures Part I – Conflict Resolution
Students work together to create a mural modeling cooperation and conflict resolution
|Day 9: Keith Haring Figures Part II|
|Day 10: Keith Haring Figures Part III|
|Day 11: Keith Haring Figures Part IV|
|Day 12: Safe Carriers Part I
Students use modern packaging materials to create a safe place
|Day 13: Safe Carriers Part II|
|Day 14: Safe Carriers Part III|
|Day 15: Final Project
Students create artwork based on their knowledge of line, shape, color, words and emotion
More student resources for this cause are at:
For more Service-Learning Curricula check out:
Day 1: Shape and Feeling – The Use of Abstract Shapes in Composition
- Students will explore the use of abstract shapes and the feelings they evoke.
- This lesson plan is based on Molly Bang’s “
- . Her own website is
- Cut out basic shapes (triangles, rectangles, circles and other curvilinear shapes) from several colors (red, black, white and light purple) of construction paper. Cut out several different sizes of each shape. Place a large white sheet of paper on an easel for a background. Give four colors of construction paper to each student (red, black, white and light purple or another pastel) as well as a larger sheet of white paper and scissors.
- Have the students brainstorm a scary situation that might happen in their school – a bully on the playground, in the hallway, someone waiting to corner a victim… Find a situation that is appropriate for your school’s community.
- Using the colored paper, pick a shape that will be the “bad guy” in the story. Do they want it to be a soft, curvy shape or a rectilinear, angular one? Put both options up on the white paper on the easel and ask them which one feels “badder.” Long, thinner triangles feel more threatening than stable fat triangles or rectangles. Triangles that are tilted off the horizon line feel scarier than those that are based on the horizon.
- Now ask them to find a “good guy” shape. Use the same color. Should it be the same shape as the bad guy? Should it be different? Should it be curvy or angular? Ask them to imagine running to the good guy shape for comfort and safety. What would that shape feel like? We feel scared with pointed or jagged shapes and more secure with rounded or curvy ones. Should the safe shape be the same color as the scary shape? Try making the safe shape different colors. Which one is safest? The pastel color will feel best!
- Now put the two shapes on the board on opposite sides of the paper. How do the two relate to one another? Consider their size. Should the bad guy be bigger or smaller than the good guy? Is the bad guy scarier when it is a lot bigger? The larger a shape is in the picture, the more frightening it feels. The smaller a shape, the more vulnerable it seems.
- Now think about how the two are related on the paper. Does the bad shape feel more threatening if it is closer or farther away from the good shape? Is a threatening person scarier when they are closer to the victim or farther away? Does the bad shape need to be up high on the picture plane? Should the smaller one be closer? Should they be near to one another and both closer or both farther away? What happens when the shapes are in the center of the picture plane? How do the students feel when the shape or shapes are moved to the edge of the page? The center of the page is the center of attention. The closer an object is to the edge of the paper, the greater the tension we feel. Play around with the shapes changing their position on the paper until the students are satisfied with their placement. If the shapes are close together, the larger shape feels more threatening. If they are closer to us, we relate to them more than if they are in the background and removed from our world.
- Now discuss the setting for the shapes. Tall, thin vertical rectangles are exciting and strong. Try putting some tall, thin, black rectangles across the white page-how do they read to the students? Can they be trees in a forest? What happens when you change those rectangles and make them thinner or fatter? What if they extend off the page? What happens if you tilt the rectangles? Do they make the space safer or scarier? Diagonal shapes imply motion or tension. The diagonal rectangles seem as if they are poised in mid-motion. Are they falling?
- How can you make a “safe” place for the “good guy” shape to hide from the bad one? What type of shape would this be? Would it be a tall thin rectangle or a square shape? Would it be large or tiny? A square is a stable shape and should be seen as an island of calm within the picture plane. What color should it be? What happens when you make it the same color as the “good guy” shape? Does it look like it belongs there? Do the students associate the shapes with real objects? Does the square seem to read like a house?
- Now ask the students to think of a situation where they felt afraid at school or threatened. Using the colored paper and scissors, have them cut out a safe shape and a bad guy or scary shape. Using the principles you have just gone over, have the students illustrate their scary situation with abstract shapes.
- Look at all the finished work together and discuss which compositions are scariest and why.
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