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Cameo Portraits, the Colonial Period


Art, Language Arts, Social Studies  


6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12  

Title – Cameo Portraits, the Colonial Period

By – Mary-Ann Beggs

Primary Subject – Language Arts

Secondary Subjects – Social Studies, Art

Grade Level – 6-12

Lesson Description: The students after reading some of the literature from the Colonial Period in American literature will create cameo pictures which were quite popular during that time. They will also combine art and creative writing as an extension of the unit.


— Create an autobiographical alphabet poem.

— Create an art form.

— Use oral presentation skills.

Links to FL Standards:

LA.B.2.4.2: Organizes information

LA.C.3.4.4: Applies oral communication skills


1. Obtain black pieces of construction paper and white pieces of construction paper.

2. Obtain chalk for outlining on the black paper.

3. Obtain a light source to cast the shadows.

4. Before starting the art activity, have students create their autobiography alphabet poems. Each line of the poem should begin with a different letter of the alphabet. The first line begins with ‘A’ and says something about their earliest childhood memory. The next line begins with ‘B’ and is their next childhood memory. They work up to the current time in their life.

Explain to students they will be sharing these and need only write what they do not mind sharing with a class.

5. After the poems are written and the art materials are gathered, have the students work in pairs to outline each other’s profile on the black construction paper.

6. They cut out their portraits and glue them on the white construction paper. They may bring from home pictures or other items they would like to place on the portrait area. Since these will be laminated, no 3-D objects may be placed on the paper.

7. After gluing the portrait on the white construction paper, they now transfer using colored marker or ink their autobiographical alphabet poem going around the outside of the portrait. This should be done neatly and clearly.

8. After the art work is complete, each student presents his portrait and reads his/her poem to the class. One student holds up the cameo and the other student reads his/her poem.

9. The students are video taped and this is used for discussion of their poem and their oral skills. The video is also excellent for Open House Night presentations.

E-Mail Mary-Ann Beggs!

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