Grade 6 Art Unit Plan

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Actual Unit Plan:

Visual Arts Unit Plan

Topic: Connecting to Place

Exploring “Home” and “Community”

Note: information contained in this unit plan is approximately one month’s worth (four classes) of art instruction.

Grade 6 (British Columbia Curriculum)

Big idea: Engaging in creative expression

and experiences expands people’s

sense of identity and community.

Element of Design: Space

Image-making strategy: Superimposition

Group members: Kat G and Zahra

Unit Plan Developed November 2016

Potential Starting Points

Here are some topics that might come up in the classroom organically – listen for them and capitalize on these authentic opportunities to introduce this unit.

  • My home – discussions might arise naturally among students about the places they feel at home (this may or may not be where they physically live at the moment). For example, students might talk about a special spot where they go camping in the summer or a friend/relative’s house as “home.”  
  • My background/the cultural spaces I move through: students may share where their families/ancestors come from. For example, they might have visited the place where their parents or grandparents were born and may talk about the sense of belonging they feel there.
  • My community: students might talk about different communities they belong to. They might feel part of large communities (e.g. Canada or BC), smaller communities (e.g. Victoria, their specific neighbourhood, their school) or communities united by a common interest (e.g. their volleyball team, knitting club). They might even talk about the issues/problems they see in their community or things they feel are worth celebrating.  

Explore and Create #1: Element of Design (Space)

The goal of this activity is to allow students to experiment with one element of design (space) in a variety of ways and with a variety of materials.

BC Learning Standards Addressed:

  • Curricular Competency: Exploring and Creating – Explore ways you can represent space.

Activity: Set up 4 different tables where students can explore how to use space.

Table 1: Materials: Paper, scissors, pastels

Ask kids to cut out a basic shape from a piece of stiff paper. They then outline the positive shape with oil pastel and place it on another piece of paper. Then they brush the pastel outward onto the paper with a paper towel or their finger to create an image. They also outline the negative shape and brush the oil pastel inward onto the second piece of paper. Remind kids not to cut up the negative shape when they are cutting out the positive shape as they will need the negative shape for the activity. Have tape available for kids who accidentally cut through it.

Table 2: Materials: Heavy paper and felt pens

Students fold ½ sheet of heavy paper in half and draw the same shape on both halves, then use felts to colour one side as the “negative” space and the other side as the “positive” to observe their mutual importance.

Table 3: Construction paper and scissors

Take a ¼ sheet of one colour of paper and a ½ sheet of another colour of paper. Cut a positive or negative shape from the smaller sheet to place on the larger sheet.

Table 4: Camera, printer, oil pastels

Take a picture of a simple object in the room, print it in black and white. Colour either the object or the background with oil pastels to emphasize the positive or negative space.

Materials: Specified beside each table.

Core Competency to Assess: Communication Profile – Competency # 4: Explain/recount and reflect on experiences and accomplishments  

Method of (Formative) Assessment: Non-judgemental critique. Students will bring their work to a central table (names will be hidden) and the group will point out examples of uses of space that they see.

Explore and Create # 2: Image-Making Strategy (Superimposition)

The goal of this activity is to use superposition in a creative way.

BC Learning Standards Addressed

  • Curricular Competency: Exploring and creating – trying out an image-making strategy

Activity: Set up 4 different tables where students can creatively practice superimposition. Provide a different artist example of superimposition at each table and a process demo done by the teacher using each set of materials.

Table 1: Materials: magazine photos, ipads, scanners, scissors, oil pastels, glue

Table 2: Materials: small squares of tissue paper, watered down white glue, paint brushes, water containers for brushes

Table 3: Materials: sharpies, crayons, pens, felts, pictures of zentangles, henna hands, etc.

Table 4: Materials: cardboard newspapers, paint, knick-knacks and glue that they can add to their superimposition.

Students will visit as many tables as they can during the class time but it is ok if they don’t make it to all of them.

Materials: Specified beside each table.

Core Competency to Assess: Communication Profile – Competency # 4: Explain/recount and reflect on experiences and accomplishments  

Method of (Formative) Assessment: Non-judgemental critique. Ask students to point out examples of positive and negative space and superimposition they see. If any students coincidentally created a piece that has to do with “home” or belonging (e.g. a house, city, etc.) that can lead us into a discussion about how we might be able to alter this activity to explore a theme like home.

Reason and Reflect # 1: Critical Analysis of Mentor Artist’s Artworks (look at how they use Space and Superimposition)

The goal of this activity is to reflect on how artists use space and/or superimposition to communicate messages about a place.

BC Learning Standards Addressed

  • Curricular Competency: Reasoning and reflecting – Research, describe, interpret and evaluate how artists use processes, materials, movements, technologies, tools, techniques, and environments in the arts
  • Curricular Competency: Reasoning and reflecting – Reflect on works of art and creative processes to understand artists’ intentions
  • Curricular Competency: Communicating and documenting – Describe, interpret and respond to works of art and explore artists’ intent
  • Content: A variety of national and international works of art and artistic traditions from diverse cultures, communities, times and place


Ask students to (in pairs) choose a work of art in which the artist has used space and/or superimposition to represent something about home or place. Students can either use the Internet or art books available in the classroom to find an image, or they can select from images provided by the teacher – see below for these). After selecting an image, students will go through a critical analysis process to explore the image and the meaning behind it. Teachers can ask students some or all of the questions below to guide them through this process. Students will likely want to jot down notes to answer each of these questions and can do this either in the classroom or in a quieter space (e.g. the hallway, library, outside depending on weather, etc.). Kinesthetic leaners again may want to walk and talk rather than sitting in one place. Tactual learners might want to find a comfy chair in the library to work.

    1. Initial Reaction: Based on what you see in the artwork, what assumptions can you make about the place that is depicted or the artist’s relationship to that place?


  • Description: What stories do you see in the artwork? What types of stories do you think the place depicted holds?
  • Analysis: Where do you see the different concepts of space or superimposition in the work you are looking at? Why do you think the artist uses that element of design and that image-making strategy in that way? How do they help create this story? Does the title of the work give you any clues around this? What other elements of design / image making strategies do you see in the piece?  
  • Consideration of Cultural Context: Do a bit of research on the artist and piece. You can use an electronic device (teachers can either take the class to the computer lab or have computers/iPads available for students to work with in the classroom – some students might also be able to use their cell phones). See what you can learn about who the artist is and the spaces they frequent (e.g. where did they grow up, spend time as a child/adult, where do they work from now? You may also find it helpful to explore what can you find out about their family and what cultures they identify with as place can be linked to people/culture). Try to find out a bit about the space/place depicted in the image you are looking at as well.
  • Informed opinion: With the information you have gained through your research in “4. Consideration of Cultural Context,” what else can you see in the work of art (stories, characteristics of place) that you couldn’t see before?



  • Sample artworks that use space and superimposition to communicate messages about place (see below for a few samples the teacher could bring)
  • Electronic devices (e.g. Laptops, phones, iPads) to do find artist / artwork and do follow up research
  • Pen/paper if students choose to handwrite the answers to the 5 critical analysis questions

Core Competency to Assess

Communication Profile – Competency # 2:

  • Acquire, interpret, and present information (includes inquiries) Students inquire into topics that interest them, and topics related to their school studies. They present for many purposes and audiences; their work often features media and technology. Examples include “show and tell,” explaining a concept, sharing a Power Point presentation about a research/inquiry topic, and creating a video proposal.

Method of (Formative) Assessment

Assess students’ responses to the 5 critical analysis questions from above. Pairs can either submit their answers in writing or through a short conversation with the teacher (similar to a “book talk” strategy in Language Arts). If they choose to have a conversation the teacher may want to audio or video record it to document the learning.  

Sample artworks the teacher can bring to class for the critical analysis discussion

Here are some works by artists who use space and/or superimposition to make statements about a place in the same piece or art.

  1. Coexistence by Tang Yau Hoong (uses positive and negative space and size to make meaning)


Some artists group objects far apart, or close together, in order to make the place in the image feel vast or cramped (see 2. and 3. below). Both of these images also show how one can play with negative and positive space to create different effects.

  1. The Call of the North by Robbie Craig



  1. New Beginning by Andy Everson

The place of significance in this piece is the stream where life begins (and often also ends) for salmon in the Pacific Northwest.


Some artists superimpose magazines or other images over one another in order to express multiple ideas in an image:

  1. In Stephanie LeDoux’s first book, Portraits de voyage, she superimposes sketches of people she encountered while traveling over newspaper clippings from that place.


  1. Historian and artist Jo Teeuwisse superimposes old photos over new photos of the same place in order to express dimensions of history in her art. This piece is called Ghosts of war – France; The other side.


In the two works below (6. And 7.), Andy Everson uses positive/negative space and superimposition to create meaning about place. By superimposing an Aboriginal art print over the sky in both pieces, Everson reminds us whose traditional territory we are on. In “An Evening in Vancouver,” Everson’s use of superimposition (Native art over the sunset in English Bay) and space (overlapping the inunnguaq (inuksuk) so that it stands out in front of the sunset and Native art background) stimulates thought about land, ownership and cultural tradition/assimilation. The Inunnguaq was erected in Vancouver for the 2010 Olympics and became a subject of controversy because it is not from Coast Salish Culture.

  1. Guided Home (2010) by Andy Everson


  1. An Evening in Vancouver (2009) by Andy Everson


Other artworks that could be incorporated include:

  • Jane Ash Poitras
  • Carl Beam
  • Pablo Picasso (Blue Period)

Explore and Create #3 / Communicate and Document # 1: Inquiry

Inquiry Question: How can you contribute in a positive way to your “home” or community? What can you do to make your world a better place?

Activity #1: Space and Home

The goal of this activity is to allow students to experiment with one element of design (space) and see how they can use it to represent the places they feel at home.

BC Learning Standards Addressed:

  • Curricular Competency: Exploring and Creating – Explore relationships between identity, place, culture, society, and belonging through the arts
  • Curricular Competency: Communicating and documenting – Express feelings, ideas, and experiences through the arts
  • Content: Purposeful application of elements and principles to create meaning in the arts: visual arts: elements of design (space)

Activity Description

  • Hook / connections to criteria: home means different things to different people. Think of a place/space that represents “home” to you. This doesn’t need to be your house – it can be anywhere you feel a sense of belonging, anything that makes you feel rooted to your environment.
    • Teachers can either lead a large group discussion to brainstorm a few possibilities of places/spaces students might use for this activity (start a list on the chalkboard) or can ask the students to discuss with the person beside them or their table group.
  • Once the student has selected the place/space they would like to use to represent “home,” they need to come up with a shape to represent the place/space and draw an outline of the shape on a piece of white paper.
    • Again, brainstorming could occur as a large group (teacher-led) or in pairs/small table groups (student-led). Here are some examples to help spark students’ thinking: I might use a salmon to represent home because I feel connected to the natural environment here in BC. Or, I might draw the outline of the state of North Carolina because I went to school there for four years and feel very at home there.
    • Students can use technology (e.g. smart phone, computer) to look up images or shapes if they would like to before drawing.  
  • After the student has drawn the shape, they cut it out and then glue the shape itself (the positive space) and the page the shape has been removed from (the negative space) on a piece of construction paper of any colour. Hang onto these as we will use these in a later activity.
    • Remind students before they cut that they will need the paper the shape has been cut out of (the negative space) to glue onto the construction paper so that they do not cut up the negative space. Have some tape available so that students who accidentally do this can tape their paper back together so the negative space is again contained within the outline of a shape.   
  • Students can make one or more shapes/spaces that represent home to them depending on how fast they move through this activity. The shapes/spaces created do not need to be polished products – this is a chance for students to explore a particular element of design (space) to build up to a deeper understanding of place/home in subsequent activities.


  • White paper
  • Construction paper
  • Scissors
  • Something to draw with (pencil, pen, pencil crayon, crayon, marker, etc.)
  • Glue
  • Tape

Core Competency to Assess

Positive Personal and Cultural Identity Profile – Competency #1: Relationships and cultural contexts


  • Students understand that their relationships and cultural contexts help to shape who they are. (“Culture” is meant in its broadest sense, including identifiers such as ethnicity, nationality, language, ability, sex/gender, age, geographic region, sexuality, and religion.) Students define themselves in terms of their relationship to others and their relationship to the world (people and place) around them.


Method of (Formative) Assessment  

Sharing/talking circle (similar to non-judgmental critique)

  • Students can talk about the place they chose to represent “home,” why it’s important to them and whom they share it with. They can also share their art. At the end, teacher/students can comment on concepts of space they see in the art.
  • Set ground rules before beginning the sharing circle (e.g. one person talks at a time, be conscious of how much “air time” you are taking, students have the right to pass if they don’t want to speak). This will help the tactual learners feel respected and valued (which they need to learn). Know that questions about “home” can bring up strong emotions for some – be prepared to keep everyone emotionally safe in the circle and follow up with students afterward as needed.

Teachers can discreetly check off students who participate in the sharing circle (clipboard on lap – or teachers can also ask the students to check off their name on the class list afterward to show that they participated). Teachers can then have a 1:1 “check in” with students who did not speak (or allow them to submit a written reflection). Either way, once students have demonstrated that are able to define themselves in terms of their relationship to the people and places around them, the teacher can check them off. Allowing students to communicate orally or through writing will provide options for both auditory and visual learners (who process differently) to express themselves. In addition, having the option to share in a large or small group will accommodate both introverts and extroverts.

Activity # 2: Space and Superimposition

The goal of this activity is to use superposition to represent some positive and negative characteristics of the places students call “home.” This could include issues they see in their communities, personal experiences they have had in particular places, etc.

BC Learning Standards Addressed

  • Curricular Competency: Exploring and creating – Demonstrate an understanding and appreciation of personal, social, cultural, historical, and environmental contexts in relation to the arts
  • Curricular Competency: Exploring and creating – Create artistic works collaboratively and as an individual using ideas inspired by imagination, inquiry, experimentation, and purposeful play
  • Curricular Competency: Communicating and documenting – Take creative risks to express feelings, ideas, and experiences
  • Content: Image development strategies

Activity Description

    • Using the “home” shape/space you cut out in the last activity, begin to think about ideas, thoughts, issues, memories, etc. you associate with the place you call your home. Consider both good and bad things and anything that relates to your personal, social, cultural, historical, and environmental contexts.


  • Think/pair/share


    • First, give students a minute or two of personal brainstorming time to consider the prompt above
    • Second, asks students to discuss with a partner what the good and bad things going on in their “homes” are. Students can either stay seated at their tables or can “walk and talk” for 5 minutes if they wish (this option may help kinesthetic learners get the creative juices flowing and may also be preferred by children with anxiety who might want a quieter / less chaotic space to think).
    • Third, return to the classroom and each pair can report back what they discussed. The teacher can ask each student to talk about what their partner said and can scaffold by giving them a template for reporting back – e.g. “My partner is _______ and the place they picked to represent home is __________. The shape they chose to represent home is ______. One [positive or negative] characteristic of their home is _________. One [positive or negative] thing that talking to my partner made me think about in relation to my own “home” was _____________.
    • The teacher can write the above sentences up on the blackboard for students to refer to when they are presenting back to the group (provides even more scaffolding).
    • Once a pair has finished presenting, they can choose another pair to report back from their discussion.
  • After the think/pair/share activity (brainstorming), students will create a collage on and around their “home” shapes/spaces to better flush out what home really means to them using superimposition. They can use magazines, newspapers, or Internet printouts. The teacher should provide some clippings from each and students can also go online to print out articles or words as desired (either use computer in classroom or allow students to go to library if possible).

Here are some sample questions that you might ask students to consider when they are looking for clippings and arranging their pieces on the construction paper:

  • Whose traditional territory does your “home” occupy?
  • What is the story you want to tell about your home? What are you passionate about within your community?
  • How do connections with the rest of the world (other people and places) influence your home and the people there?
  • What social and/or environmental issues can you identify in your community?
  • How can you make your home better/safer/healthier? What do you want to see happen in your community?


  • Newspapers and magazines (containing information about many different issues in many different places if possible)  
  • Computer / internet connection (optional)
  • Positive and negative shapes/spaces from Explore and Create # 1
  • Scissors
  • Glue

Core Competency to Assess

Creative Thinking Profile – Competency # 2: Generating ideas

  • Students may generate creative ideas as a result of free play, engagement with someone else’s ideas, a naturally occurring problem or constraints, or interest or passion. New ideas and inspirations can spontaneously arise from the unconscious mind, which is why students often report that their ideas just “pop” into their heads. However, students can also become aware of, and use, ways to help their unconscious minds generate ideas—giving their unconscious minds lots of ideas and information to combine and recombine at random (e.g., by learning a lot about something of interest), providing the incubation time for the unconscious to work, and quieting the filters and censors in the conscious and subconscious minds that tend to prevent novel ideas and inspirations from rising to the conscious mind (e.g., by doing relaxing or automatic activities).

Method of (Formative) Assessment

The think / pair / share from above (listed under the activity for Explore and Create # 2) will allow the teacher to assess the Creative Thinking competency – particularly how engaging with someone else’s ideas and with naturally occurring problems can help students generate creative ideas. If desired, the teacher can video or audiotape the students during this activity to document / record learning (this could be attached to a student portfolio, for example).

Activity # 3: Improving our Homes using Space and Superimposition

BC Learning Standards Addressed

  • Curricular Competency: Exploring and creating – Demonstrate an understanding and appreciation of personal, social, cultural, historical, and environmental contexts in relation to the arts
  • Curricular Competency: Exploring and creating – Intentionally select, apply, combine, and arrange artistic elements, processes, materials, movements, technologies, tools, techniques, and environments in art making
  • Curricular Competency: Exploring and creating – Explore relationships between identity, place, culture, society, and belonging through the arts
  • Curricular Competency: Reasoning and reflecting – Examine relationships between the arts and the wider world
  • Curricular Competency: Communicating and documenting – Demonstrate increasingly sophisticated application and/or engagement of curricular content
  • Curricular Competency: Communicating and documenting – Interpret and communicate ideas using symbols and elements to express meaning through the arts
  • Content: Image development strategies

Activity Description

  • Think about what you would want to improve about your “home” (think about the issues / causes you care about in your community) and create a piece of artwork that answers the inquiry question in a meaningful way and incorporates the concepts of space and/or superimposition. The “home” you use for this project can be the same “home” you used in the previous activities or a different one. If students want to do some online research first, they can use their phones or a computer in the classroom, or go to the library.  
  • Teachers can write some or all of the following questions up on the board or discuss at the beginning of class for students to think about when they are creating their pieces
    • How are you using the concepts of space to express meaning?
    • What words/images are you placing in front of others and why (overlapping)?
    • What words/images are you making bigger vs smaller and why (size)? Bigger images will look closer and smaller images will look farther away.
    • What words/images are you placing near the bottom or top of your piece? Images closer to the horizon line will look farther away.  
    • Are all the words/images you are using the same colour? Lighter / faded colours usually look farther away.
    • What meaning are you communicating with your use of negative / positive space and/or negative/positive words/images?  e.g. negative vs positive words, images with lots of negative or positive space)
  • Provide different tables with different media for students to use
    • 1. A newspaper/collage table (mixed media) – this will work well for superimposition – take chairs away so students have lots of room to get up and move around. Also provide tissue paper, sharpies, watered down white glue.
    • 2. A painting table (provide gloves for visual learners who are worried about getting messy and make sure clean up procedures are established before-hand.
    • 3. A construction paper table for cutting out positive and negative space, etc.).
    • 4. A table with new media materials on it – e.g. lights, a computer to incorporate sound/superimpose or flip images/remove backgrounds or images, etc.
    • Depending on the number of students / their interests, you could also add in a drawing table (e.g. crayons) and print-making table (e.g. stamps in different shapes)
    • Allow students to move back and forth between the tables as they work.
  • Once you’ve completed your inquiry piece, write a paragraph to go along with your artwork to explain what you feels needs to be improved about your “home”. This could be written like a letter to someone to advocate for these changes, or just a personal reflection. This paragraph would be displayed along with the collage, as long as the students give the teacher permission.

Differentiation: Students can also ask the teacher or T.A. to scribe for them if that helps them with their thinking process.  


  • Will vary depending on which stations teacher decides to include, but potentially
    • Paint, crayons
    • Gloves
    • Construction and white paper
    • Newspaper and magazines
    • Scissors, glue
    • Lights / computer / audio files / other new media
    • Rubber stamps

Core Competency to Assess

Social Responsibility Profile – Competency #1:


  • Contributing to community and caring for the environment Students develop awareness and take responsibility for their social, physical, and natural environments by working independently and collaboratively for the benefit of others, communities, and the environment.


Method of (Summative) Assessment

Ask students to hand in the letter/reflection they have written to go with their artwork (see activity above). Teacher may want to co-construct a rubric with the students to decide what the paragraph/ art piece needs to include (e.g. maybe the piece needs to visibly use space or superimposition, maybe the paragraph needs to be a certain number of words or include certain content, etc.).

Possible prompts:

  • Write a letter to a politician to tell them what they need to change in your “home”/community, how and why.
  • What did you identify as something you would like to see change in your community? How can you personally contribute to this change?
  • What have you learned about your community and the issues in it through creating your artwork?