IT’S THE TOOTH FAIRY! Early Childhood
The Art Problem
Is the tooth fairy myth universal? How can students depict it?
Through this lesson children learn
that cultural traditions vary.
12 x 18" ( 30. 5 x 46 cm) white
construction paper, 12 x 18" ( 30. 5
x 46 cm) blue or purple construction paper, scissors, glue, regular
and metallic oil pastels or crayons,
1. Ask students to describe the
tradition that occurs when a child
loses a tooth. Compare answers
and then read aloud excerpts from
Throw Your Tooth on the Roof:
Tooth Traditions From Around the
World, by Selby Beeler.
2. Hand out 12 x 18" ( 30. 5 x 46
cm) paper and have students draw
a giant-sized tooth using a crayon
or pencil. Model your own tooth
on the board and have students
cut out their drawings.
3. Discuss what the tooth fairy
might look like and encourage
students to illustrate their personal
tooth fairy using regular crayons.
4. After the drawing is completed,
give students metallic gold and
silver oil pastels or crayons to color
features such as a crown, wand, or
5. Have students glue each tooth
onto a colored background.
Students “show and tell” about
their pictures at the front the classroom, using new vocabulary to
describe each drawing.
By Cynthia A. Henn, lead elementary art teacher, Millburn
Township Schools, Millburn,
CULTURE COLLAGE BOX Middle School
In this lesson, students become
acquainted with their peers and
learn about each other’s backgrounds by creating a culture collage box.
Materials & Resources
Shoebox or paper folded into a
three-sided box, scissors, glue,
photos, magazines, and other
found objects, paint and paint-brushes, markers, www.bearden-foundation.org.
1. Explore the collages of Romare
Bearden. Ask students what symbols are seen in Bearden’s artworks
that hint at his personal history
2. Ask students to identify what
symbols represent their own personal histories and cultures using
the photos, magazines, and other
objects they chose.
3. If using a shoebox, paint it and
allow time for it to dry.
4. Have students plan a collage
that documents their own history
or culture. Ask them to emphasize
the most important characteristics
with color, size, or placement.
5. Using the plan as a guide, create a collage box using objects
brought from home.
6. Ask students to exchange artworks and interpret someone else’s
By Maggie Smola, an art education student at Northern
Arizona University in Flagstaff,
LET THERE BE DRAGONS Elementary
The Art Problem
In Chinese lore, the dragon is a
protector and a good omen—a
symbol of luck. A Chinese dragon
is made up of many animal attributes. Its body is like a serpent
with scales like a fish, the mane of
a lion, paws like a tiger, the horns
of a deer, large fierce eyes and
teeth, whiskers on its chin, and a
Students will compare Western
and Chinese dragons before making their own.
12 x 18" ( 30. 5 x 46 cm) red paper,
one per student; 12– 14" length of
wide foil-punched ribbon, one per
student; stencil brushes; gold and
other colors of tempera paint
1. Show students pictures of
Chinese dragons in paintings, on
vases, on silk robes, and on fans
and compare them to concepts of
2. Have students zigzag and tape
the foil-punched ribbon across a
piece of 12 x 18" ( 30. 5 x 46 cm)
red paper (red is a good luck color
in China) and then paint through
the holes by daubing the ribbon
with gold paint. When the ribbon
is removed, the serpentine shape
of the dragon is clearly visible. Add
details with paint.
• Can students explain differences
between Western and Chinese
• Did students create effective
textures for the body of their
By Kathy Cunningham, a K– 6
art teacher for the North Mer-rick Public Schools in New York.
SPIRIT ANIMALS High School
The Art Problem
If you were an animal, what animal
would you be?
• Identify their own personality
traits and then match them to an
animal with similar characteristics.
• Create the chosen animal in
three-dimensional mixed media.
coffee cans, masking tape, cardboard, newspaper, wheat paste,
colored tissue paper, hot glue gun
and glue sticks, decorative materials such as beads, buttons, yarn,
feathers, pipe cleaners
1. Students choose a spirit animal and draw the animal in their
sketchbooks from reference.
2. Students create the animal’s
features out of cardboard and tape
them to the coffee can.
3. Students cover the entire coffee can and features with papier-mâché.
4. Students use colored tissue
paper for the final layer, and then
add three-dimensional details with
a hot glue gun.
• Did the student convincingly
choose an animal that reflects his
or her personality?
• Was the animal represented
accurately? Is it identifiable as the
animal the student intended to
By Staci Kavanaugh, an art
teacher at East Palo Alto High
School in California for the
Stanford Schools Corporation.