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Elementary [1st-5th] Lesson Plan

Giving Fish a Voice (Environmental Awareness and Protection)

Created on January 15, 2013 by Tiedemania

4th grade lesson inspired by digital artist, Ferdi Rizkiyanto's photo "What Lies Under". 4th graders were required to add a word in the body of a fish that would represent what a fish might say to humans who mistreat their environment. This lesson also features a link to my blog where you can see more of my students' artwork and link to the work of Ferdi Rizkiyanto as well.

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6 sessions; 40 minutes per session

1. Students will be able to create a mixed media composition of a fish incorporating a word that expresses what a fish might say to human beings who mistreat their environment.
2. Students will be able to incorporate the elements and principles of design into their artwork.

1. White paper
2. Pencils
3. Erasers
3. Sharpie markers
4. Water based markers
5. Tempera and/or water color paints

Need these materials? Visit Blick!

1. Ask Essential Guiding Questions:
What is your reaction to seeing this image?

What does the photographer mean when he states, “Just because you don’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there”? What words might a fish or any sea life say to humans who mistreat their environment? Why? What word/s do you want to use in your work to educate people about this important global, environmental concern?

2. Allow time for students to discuss ocean pollution and how it is effecting our earth and environment.

3. Invite students to view this issue from the perspective of fish or other ocean life.

4. Ask them to imagine someone throwing garbage into their homes and invite discussion.

5. Discuss how artists like Ferdi Rizkiyanto are assisting in generating awareness in global and environmental issues.

6. Allow time for students to share their thoughts about how they can give fish a voice while trying to make a difference through their art.

7. Ask students to share words that they feel would communicate a message to people who may mistreat our environment by littering.

8. Allow time for students to research various sea life using books from our school library.

19. Demonstrate how to identify basic shapes to begin drawing and encourage students to draw large.

10. Allow time for students to sketch ideas before giving them final paper.

11. Allow time for students to transfer their ideas to final paper.

12. Demonstrate how to draw block or bubble letters and require that students balance their letters inside the drawings of their fish or sea life creatures.

13. Discuss the elements and principles of design and require students to consider them when adding detail to their fish.

14. Students should begin with adding contrasting patterns using only black sharpie or Redimark markers.

15. They may apply color once a good balance of black and white is achieved in their compositions.

16. Demonstrate how to paint the backgrounds and allow time for students to paint.

17. Share final works, allowing time for discussion regarding why they chose their words and how this project may have helped them to learn how they can make a difference.

Students will be assessed on the following:
Listening to conversations
Monitoring creative choices
Watching for the ability to follow directions
Observing for the application of demonstrated practices
Noticing how willing students are to take risks
Final written artist statement reflecting about their work

Link to my blog article about this lesson featuring student work and digital artist, Ferdi Rizkiyanto's work:


Visual Arts Standard 1:
Understanding and applying media, techniques, and processes

[K-4] Students use different media, techniques, and processes to communicate ideas, experiences, and stories
[K-4] Students use art materials and tools in a safe and responsible manner
[K-4] Students know the differences between materials, techniques, and processes
[K-4] Students describe how different materials, techniques, and processes cause different responses

Visual Arts Standard 2:
Using knowledge of structures and functions

[K-4] Students use visual structures and functions of art to communicate ideas
[K-4] Students know the differences among visual characteristics and purposes of art in order to convey ideas
[K-4] Students describe how different expressive features and organizational principles cause different responses

Visual Arts Standard 3:
Choosing and evaluating a range of subject matter, symbols, and ideas

[K-4] Students select and use subject matter, symbols, and ideas to communicate meaning
[K-4] Students explore and understand prospective content for works of art

Visual Arts Standard 4:
Understanding the visual arts in relation to history and cultures

[K-4] Students know that the visual arts have both a history and specific relationships to various cultures
[K-4] Students demonstrate how history, culture, and the visual arts can influence each other in making and studying works of art

Visual Arts Standard 5:
Reflecting upon and assessing the characteristics and merits of their work and the work of others

[K-4] Students understand there are various purposes for creating works of visual art
[K-4] Students understand there are different responses to specific artworks
[K-4] Students describe how people's experiences influence the development of specific artworks

Visual Arts Standard 6:
Making connections between visual arts and other disciplines

[K-4] Students understand and use similarities and differences between characteristics of the visual arts and other arts disciplines
[K-4] Students identify connections between the visual arts and other disciplines in the curriculum

Environmental Art, Photography

Balance, Color/Value, Contrast, Emphasis, Line, Movement, Proportion/Size, Rhythm/Pattern, Shape, Unity/Harmony, Variety

Digital, Drawing, Mixed Media, Painting, Paper, Pencil, Photography, Tempera, Watercolor

English/Language Arts, Health/P.E., Math, Science, Technology