Teachingartonthecheap's Blog

Fourth/Fifth Grade: Silhouettes

Posted on: February 9, 2010

Creative Reuse Lesson Plan         4/5 Grade: Colonial America

Written by Keri Piehl for SCRAP /Whitman ES 2009-10


Cost per student: $.03

Materials: Large paper in 2 contrasting colors (12”x18”), scissors, glue sticks, light source (I commandeered old overhead projectors from the storage closet), pencils, push pins or tape.

Optional: paper strips, colored writing utensils

Students will trace and cut silhouettes of themselves and classmates, preserving their image in a simple and timeless way.

Elements of art: shape, line, space

Vocabulary: silhouette, profile

1. Ask students how the colonists might have created a record of their family members before the advent of photography. Most kids will suggest portraiture of some sort; introduce the idea of silhouettes. They were a popular and accessible way of preserving the image of someone’s profile for both family use and artistic expression. Discuss the concept of a profile; I mentioned the pictures on coins as an easily referenced example.

2. Set up the light source and either use pushpins or tape to affix a piece of paper to the wall at student height. I chose a student to use for my example that I knew took a long time to work on a project; this gave them a little bit of a head start. Have the student stand with their shoulder touching the wall with a neutral expression on their face. Remove glasses, hoods, odd hair accessories, etc. As they stand as still as possible, quickly trace their profile with a crayon or pencil. Try and center their head on the paper so their face and hair are both visible.

3. Ask the students to suggest what materials the colonists would have used to do this (a candle or lamp, pencil, scissors, etc.). As an option, I suggest having each student work on making a name plate out of a strip of paper to eventually be mounted on their profile. This will give kids something to do while they wait to be traced, or while other kids get traced if they were one of the first kids to be traced.

4. After the student has their profile traced, have them cut it out and apply glue stick to the side with the crayon or pencil lines showing; then mount it on a contrasting color of 12”x18” piece of paper. It looks best if they align the straight edge on the bottom of the traced piece with the bottom edge of the large backing piece of paper.

5. I mounted the nameplates later, and hung the profiles up along the top of the hallway in the 4/5 grade wing of the school.

Note: Kids with poor fine motor control should not be tasked with tracing a classmate; this will frustrate the tracer and give the tracee a poor result. I tried to direct kids a little, allowing some kids to trace each other and I would call up kids who might have problems so I could trace them and prevent problems from arising. I had 3 overhead projectors on at the same time so many kids could work simultaneously.


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