What Is Important to You?
Students consider this question while making self-portraits based on the work of Frida Kahlo.
- Grades: PreK–K, 1–2
- Unit Plan:
The students will learn about Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. The students will brainstorm what is important to them, and then include these things in their own self-portrait.
- Learn how to make a self-portrait
- Learn about the life of Frida Kahlo
- 9- by 12-inch white construction paper
- Print of The Frame by Frida Kahlo, along with several other self-portrait prints by Frida Kahlo
- T-chart labeled: What is Important to you? Underneath that question, make a capital T. On one side of the T-chart write "Frida Kahlo," on the other side write "Our Class."
- Frida by Jonah Winter
- Smart about Art: Frida Kahlo, the Artist Who Painted Herself by Margaret Frith
- Mirrors, enough for each student.
Step 1: Read the book Smart About Art: Frida Kahlo: The Artist Who Painted Herself. Brainstorm different things that were important to Kahlo. Write down the responses on the T-chart under her name. Tell the class that Kahlo is known for her self-portraits. Ask the class what a self-portrait is. Bring out more prints of Kahlo's self-portraits to show the class. (A great and inexpensive way to get terrific prints of artists' work is to buy calendars, especially out-of-date calendars that are often sold at big discounts.)
Step 2: Give each student a mirror. Invite them to look at themselves in the mirror. The students may partner up with a buddy to tell each other what color his/her hair is, what color his/her eyes are, what the shape of his/her face and eyes are, etc.
Step 3: Invite them to start drawing themselves! (Head and shoulders only.) Use a pencil to model for the students how to make a big circle or oval on the white construction paper for the face. Draw eyes, nose, mouth, and ears. I give different examples on the board for how to draw the parts of a face. Draw a neck and then the shoulders going down to the bottom of the page.
Step 1: Read the book Frida by Jonah Winter. Discuss the story and add responses to the T-chart about what was important to Kahlo.
Step 2: Continue self-portraits with mirrors. Model for students and lightly outline all the pencil marks with a brown crayon. Invite students to add color to their self-portraits with crayon. They should add color to the skin, eyes, mouth, hair, and eyebrows.
Step 1: Revisit the stories about Kahlo, reviewing the things that were important to her. Now have the students think about what is important to them. Do a "weave-a-web." Have a ball of yarn available. Divide the group in half. Have half of the students go to centers. The other half of the students are to sit in a circle. Each student responds to the question: "What is important to you?" Write down responses on the other side of the T-chart. After each student responds to the question, he or she tosses the ball of yarn to the person opposite, without letting go of the yarn. By the time the students are done, the yarn will be like a spider web between them. Then, one at a time, invite each student to drop his or her string. We discuss what would happen if we don't work as a group. The answer is that everything would fall apart. Switch groups and do the same activity with the students who were at centers.
Step 2: Continue self-portraits by having the students draw pictures of what is important to them on the outside area of their self-portraits.
Step 1: Have the students fill in all the white areas on their self-portraits. Invite them to add more color and detail to the pictures.
Step 2: Mount the kids' self-portraits onto construction paper that is larger than the portraits, thereby forming a frame.
Step 3: Have the students tell you what is important to them. Type up their responses and add the dictation to the bottom of the picture.
Step 4: Display the self-portraits so everyone can see the students' beautiful artwork.
Supporting All Learners
For my English-language learners: I pair them with an English-only model to work with and sit next to. If my English-language learner is having trouble responding to the question about what is important to them, I let them point to a picture or a real object.
For my more advanced learners: I add a writing component. Ask them to write about what is important to them.
- Read the book Diego by Jeanette Winter to learn about Diego Rivera and his artwork. Create a story based on Rivera's murals and paintings, for instance, The Flower Vendor.
- Paint a class mural.
- Create a Venn diagram about Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo.
Invite the parents in to see the students' self-portraits. Suggest that families begin kindergarten scrapbooks for their children.
- Create a self-portrait at home.
- Name all the things that are important to them around the house.
- Name all the parts of the face.
Were the students able to work independently while drawing their self-portraits? Did the students have difficulty with the concept of a "self-portrait"?
- Can the students express what is important to them?
- Can the students draw and color themselves with their true attributes?
- Can the students tell one fact about Frida Kahlo?
- Can the students identify what a self-portrait is?