Books about Frida Kahlo (I recommend Smart About Art: Frida Kahlo, the Artist Who Painted Herself by Margaret Frith and Frida by Jonah Winter)
Whiteboard or chart paper and markers
Print of The Frame by Frida Kahlo, along with several other self-portrait prints by Frida Kahlo
Mirrors, one per student
9- by 12-inch white construction paper, one sheet per student
A ball of yarn
Construction paper in various colors, slightly larger than 9- by 12-inches
Source the examples of Frida Kahlo self-portraits. An inexpensive way to get terrific prints of artists' work is to buy calendars, especially out-of-date calendars that are often sold at big discounts.
At the top of the whiteboard or chart paper, write: What Is Important to You?
Underneath the question, make a large capital T to divide the chart in half. On one side of the T-chart, write "Frida Kahlo." On the other side, write "Our Class."
Step 1: Read aloud the book Smart About Art: Frida Kahlo: The Artist Who Painted Herself by Margaret Frith. As a class, brainstorm different things that were important to Kahlo. Write down the responses on the T-chart under her name.
Step 2: 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.
Step 3: Give each student a mirror. Invite them to look at themselves in the mirror. If you have time, have students 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 4: Invite students to start drawing themselves! (Head and shoulders only.) Use a pencil to model for 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 5: Read the book Frida by Jonah Winter. Discuss the story and add responses to the T-chart about what was important to Kahlo.
Step 6: Continue working on the self-portraits with mirrors. Model drawing for students and show them how to lightly outline all the pencil marks with a brown crayon. Invite students to add color to their self-portraits with crayons. They should add color to the skin, eyes, mouth, hair, and eyebrows.
Step 7: Revisit the stories about Kahlo, reviewing the things that were important to her. Now have students think about what is important to them.
Step 8: Complete the T-chart with the Weave a Web activity.
Weave a Web Activity
Divide the group in half. Send half of the students to classroom centers or to work on individual assignments.
Instruct the remaining half of the students to sit in a circle.
Pose the question "What is important to you?" to one student.
Write the student's answer on the "Our Class" side of the T-chart.
Now instruct him or her to toss the ball of yarn to the person sitting opposite, without letting go of the end of the yarn.
Repeat steps 3–5 for each student.
Once all of the students have shared and received a part of the yarn ball, it should look like a spider web. Invite each student to, one at a time, drop his or her string.
Discuss what would happen if we didn't work as a group (everything would fall apart).
Step 9: Switch groups and do the same Weave a Web activity with the students who were at centers.
Step 10: Continue working on the self-portraits by having students draw pictures of what is important to them on the outside area of their self-portraits.
Step 11: Have students fill in all the white areas on their self-portraits. Invite them to add more color and detail to the pictures.
Step 12: Mount the self-portraits onto construction paper that is larger than the portraits, forming a frame.
Step 13: Have students tell you what is important to them. Type up their responses and add the dictation to the bottom of the students' self-portraits.
Step 14: Display the self-portraits so everyone can see the students' beautiful artwork.
Supporting All Learners
I pair my English-language learners 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.
Paint a class mural.
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, such as The Flower Vendor.
Create a Venn diagram about Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo.
Have students draw another self-portrait at home. They can surround the drawing with things that are important to them around the house.
Practice naming all the parts of the face.
Invite parents in to see students' self-portraits. Suggest that families begin kindergarten scrapbooks for their children.
Create a self-portrait using a mirror
Name all the things that are important to them
Name all the parts of the face
Were students able to work independently while drawing their self-portraits?
Did students have difficulty with the concept of a "self-portrait"?
Can students express what is important to them?
Can students draw and color themselves with their true attributes?