Teacher: Kristin Roberts (Art
Unit/Title: Calabashes and Gourd Bowls
Students: 4th Grade students at Sheridan
Elementary School, ASD
Time and Sessions: 6-8 sessions of about 40 minutes
Standards addressed / assessed:
Arts and Humanities 9.1.3 A- Know and use the elements and
principles of each art form to create works in the arts and
Arts and Humanities 9.3.3 L- Identify, explain, and analyze
traditions as they relate to works in the arts.
Reading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking 1.6.3 B- Listen to
a selection of Literature.
The goal of this lesson is to have students identify patterns and
symbols in African calabash and Caribbean gourd bowl designs and to
use this skill to create their own unique bowls. Students will begin
to think about patterns in a more complex way and give thought to
the meaning behind symbols in pieces of artwork. Students will
create their own bowls using papier-mâché and create their own
complex patterns and symbols to decorate their bowls. Through out
this lesson students will examine bowls created in Africa and the
Caribbean and compare them to their own works.
Students completing this lesson should be familiar with art
room policies and procedures. Students should also be able to listen
attentively to a presentation of new material. Students will be
familiar with sculpture making vocabulary and basic patterning.
Through other art lessons, students should also be familiar with
papier-mâché and the procedures and materials necessary for its
To accommodate students with special needs, I will provide
these students with visual materials. Visual materials, such as
pattern sheets and symbol sheets, will hopefully allow these
students to see the direction of the lesson, if they are not able to
see it abstractly. I will also make it a point to conference with
these students each class period to check the status of their work.
These students may also benefit from a buddy, who could help them
with details of the project and answer questions for them. For
students with tactile sensitive issues, I would expose them to new
materials ahead of time so as to help them become more comfortable
with the different sensations new materials may elicit.
will begin the first class session by introducing the students to
Calabashes and Gourd Bowls. After explaining to the students the
origin and function of gourd bowls, I will use a PowerPoint
presentation to further explain these unique craft pieces. The
PowerPoint will introduce the students to the various forms and
functions of gourd bowls. The students will also be introduced to
the decorative characteristics of these bowls and the various ways
in which they were decorated. Students will be exposed to the rich
patterns and symbols often carved into these bowls. The definitions
of design, pattern, and symbol will also be reviewed at this time.
After the PowerPoint presentation, the students and I will spend
some time discussing patterns and symbols. A demonstration board and
books will be used to provide the students with visuals of patterns
and symbols. Together, using these materials, the students and I
will create complex patterns. Rather than create patterns in the
form of AB AB AB AB AB, I will challenge the students to create more
complex patterns such as ABA C DED C ABA C DED C ABA. The students
and I will also look at symbols and attempt to uncover the meaning
behind various symbols.
After our discussion on patterns and symbols, the students will be
given a blank Calabash worksheet on which to practice challenging
patterns. The students will be encouraged to use visuals as
inspiration and encouraged to create complex, challenging patterns.
Worksheets with various symbols will also be distributed so students
can practice drawing symbols as well.
will begin the second class session with a brief review of what we
talked about the previous week. I will use the demonstration board
to review the origin, function, and decoration of Gourd Bowls. I
will also review the definitions of design, pattern, and symbol.
After our review, I will explain to the students that we will be
beginning the construction of our bowls. I will review with the
students the elements of sculpture such as three-dimensionality,
relief sculpture, in the round sculpture, and armature. I will then
explain to the students that we will be beginning our armatures. I
will demonstrate to the class how the armatures will be created.
Each student will receive a paper cup and a paper bowl. The students
will need to tape their paper bowls on top of their inverted paper
cups. It will appear as if the bowl is resting on top of a pedestal.
After my demonstration, supplies will be handed out and the students
can begin building their armature. It will also be very important
that the students write their name on the inside of the paper cup as
everything else will be covered in papier-mâché.
there is time left the students may continue working on their blank
will begin the third session by briefly reviewing with the students
the important aspects of the lesson and the steps that we have
completed so far. After our review, I will demonstrate to the
students the procedure for working with papier-mâché. Each table
will receive a bucket of paste and a tray of newspaper strips. The
students will need to coat their bowls several times with the paste
before painting. It will take several sessions before the students
will be able to move onto painting. I will emphasize the importance
of caressing the newspaper strips onto the bowl so as to secure the
papier-mâché. After my demonstration the students will have the
remaining time to papier-mâché. Ideally, the students will finish
two coats of papier-mâché. The students will have at least the
following week to papier-mâché.
Session four will also be spent working with the papier-mâché. If
the bowls seems strong enough, after at least four coats, the
student may possibly begin painting by the fifth session. Hopefully
the students will be able to apply two coats a class session.
During class session five (?), the students will begin painting. I
will encourage the students to look at their Calabash worksheets as
a guide. As review, I will also show them Calabashes and Gourd Bowls
decorated and carved with designs. I will remind the students about
the complex patterns and unique symbols that decorated the bowls. I
will also remind the students of basic painting strategies.
Backgrounds should be painted first as well as lighter colors. I
will encourage them to paint a base color before adding their
symbols and patterns. After our review, the students will be allowed
to begin painting. Ideally, everyone will finish their background
color during this session and begin working with their patterns and
symbols the following class session.
sixth session will also be spent painting. Hopefully the students
will begin working on their patterns. I will encourage them to
sketch in pencil on their bowls if they feel more comfortable
drawing first. The students will be allotted the entire class to
paint and the following class if it is needed. After the bowls are
finished and dried, a display will be made of them for the school to