(Left to right) Rachel followed her plan to make her M. Spencer figured how to cut out the negative space of the G. Lucas is proud that
his Y balances so well. Anna works on solving how to make her E stand up. Jessica faced many challenges with the curves of her S.
of more ways (I have had students
think of Velcro, magnets, gum, and
barrettes). I showed them the joining
techniques of tab, slit, slot, and band
I then brought out a bag containing
cut-outs of each of the letters in the
used one to
draw a letter. In
design challenge in their own words, and parent
volunteers recorded these statements
went home requesting found materials, which were brought into the
kindergarten classroom in paper bags.
Prior to their next art lesson, the kindergarten teacher had the children
sort the materials to get ready for the
much-anticipated building project.
I began the
Construct a letter of the alphabet next lesson
from materials brought from by reviewing
home or found in the classroom the design
that will: ( 1) stand by itself, recalling some
( 2) be sturdy, and ( 3) look good. of the ways to
from the students’ list and the book,
again demonstrating how to make
the joining techniques. I talked about
gravity, problems with balance and
stability, and some of the things that
might be used as bases for the letter
sculptures. I pointed out where the
materials and tools were located in
the classroom. I also reminded stu-
dents that the adults are there only to
help them with materials and tools
but not to solve their problems.
letter was complete, he or she filled
out a simple evaluation for determining if the criteria of the design challenge were met and how the student
would do things differently if given
the opportunity. While the parents
tidied up the room, students lined
themselves up alphabetically for a
group photo that was featured in the
school’s morning news the next day.
The phenomenal thing about this
lesson is that sixth-grade students
who participated in this lesson as
youngsters are able to recall which
letter they designed in kindergarten.
The proud smile on the face of a kindergartner who has his or her first
experience with design is my reward.
On another planning sheet, each student drew and identified four ideas for
constructing his or her letter as well
as the materials needed to do so. Parent volunteers helped with writing if
necessary. During this lesson, I supplied sample building materials that
the students were allowed to play
with but not build with. By the end of
this first lesson, students had a plan
and were asked to bring materials to
school for their next art class. A letter
Ann R. Erickson is an art resource teacher
for Fairfax County Public Schools in Fairfax, Virginia. firstname.lastname@example.org
Students understand and explore prospective content for art.
Construction and Evaluation
The students’ plans from the previous
art class were returned to them and
construction began. When a student’s