ALEX Lesson Plan


Where Did My Sunflowers Van Gogh?

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  This lesson provided by:  
Author:Amanda Chesser
System: Jasper City
School: West Jasper Elementary School
  General Lesson Information  
Lesson Plan ID: 33075


Where Did My Sunflowers Van Gogh?


Students will read about the life of Vincent Van Gogh and observe how the events of his life shaped his art.  Students will view various works by the artist and evaluate the changes in them.  Students will then create a still life sunflower portrait interpretation based on the works of Vincent Van Gogh.

This is a College- and Career-Ready Standards showcase lesson plan.

 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
AED (1) Visual Arts
1. Create works of art using a variety of techniques.
Example: creating prints and collages using found objects
  • Creating works of art using a variety of subject matter, including still life paintings and portraits
  • Examples: still life painting of fruit in a bowl, family portraits
  • Producing three-dimensional works of art
  • Examples: found-object sculptures, clay sculptures such as pinch pots
    AED (1) Visual Arts
    3. Identify neutral colors, form, and space in works of art.
    neutral colors--Georges Braques' Cubist still life paintings,
    form--Pueblo Indian ceramic storyteller sculptures,
    space--Alexander Calder's mobiles
    AED (1) Visual Arts
    4. Recognize similarities and differences in media, visual and tactile characteristics, and natural or man-made forms used in artwork.
    media--differences between tempera and watercolor paints,
    visual and tactile characteristics--Jacob Lawrence's collages versus Frank Stella's and George Seurat's paintings,
    natural or man-made forms--texture of pine cone versus texture of concrete block
    AED (1) Visual Arts
    5. Describe moods, feelings, and emotions depicted by a work of art.
    Examples: dark room representing loneliness, sunny sky representing cheerfulness
    AED (2) Visual Arts
    1. Apply a variety of procedures, methods, and subject matter in the production of two-dimensional works of art, including landscapes, still lifes, and relief prints.
    Example: producing paintings, drawings, and relief prints of family life and neighborhood play
  • Producing three-dimensional works of art
  • Example: pinching and pulling clay to create clay dinosaurs
  • Demonstrating appropriate safety, care, and use of printmaking and sculptural materials and equipment
  • Examples: printmaking inks, carving instruments, wire sculptures
    AED (2) Visual Arts
    2. Apply analogous and intermediate colors, symmetrical balance, and geometric and organic shapes in the production of works of art.
    Examples: monoprint of butterfly, landscapes with intermediate color schemes, Georgia O'Keeffe's flower images in pastel drawings
    AED (2) Visual Arts
    4. Explain similarities and differences in works of art, including color schemes, symmetrical balance, and geometric and organic shapes.
    Examples: naming similarities and differences in works by Eric Carle and Peter Max depicting butterflies, discussing organic shapes in Henry Moore's sculpture Working Model for Oval with Points and geometric shapes in David Smith's Cubi series sculptures
    AED (2) Visual Arts
    6. Relate moods, feelings, and emotions generated by a work of art to life experiences.
    Example: relating happy moods and feelings of children at play as depicted in Winslow Homer's Snap the Whip to those of contemporary neighborhood children at play
    AED (2) Visual Arts
    8. Identify ways art reflects and records history.
    Examples: pictographs created by Plains Indians, glyphs created by Mayan Indians, paintings and sculptures of the American West created by Frederic Remington
  • Using digital media to view works of art
  • AED (3) Visual Arts
    2. Produce works of art depicting genre subject matter.
    Examples: interiors in the paintings of Benny Andrews and Pieter Brueghel, landscapes of Grandma Moses (Anna Mary Robertson), portraits of daily life by Norman Rockwell
    AED (3) Visual Arts
    5. Demonstrate appropriate safety, care, and use of art materials and equipment.
    AED (3) Visual Arts
    6. Compare works of art in terms of complementary color schemes, value, contrast, and asymmetrical balance.
    Example: comparing elements of art and principles of design used to depict water in Winslow Homer's Gulf Stream and Katsushika Hokusai's The Great Wave
    AED (3) Visual Arts
    8. Identify ideas and feelings expressed by individual artists in works of art.
    Examples: feeling of triumph in Emmanuel Leutze's painting George Washington Crossing the Delaware, feeling of happiness in Robert Henri's Laughing Child
    ELA2015 (1)
    7. Use illustrations and details in a story to describe its characters, setting, or events. [RL.1.7]
    ELA2015 (1)
    10. Ask and answer questions about key details in a text. [RI.1.1]
    ELA2015 (1)
    31. Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about Grade 1 topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups. [SL.1.1]
    a. Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions (e.g., listening to others with care, speaking one at a time about the topics and texts under discussion). [SL.1.1a]
    b. Build on others' talk in conversations by responding to the comments of others through multiple exchanges. [SL.1.1b]
    c. Ask questions to clear up any confusion about the topics and texts under discussion. [SL.1.1c]
    ELA2015 (1)
    32. Ask and answer questions about key details in a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media. [SL.1.2]
    ELA2015 (2)
    1. Ask and answer such questions as who, what, where, when, why, and how to demonstrate understanding of key details in a text. [RL.2.1]
    a. Infer the main idea and supporting details in narrative texts. (Alabama)
    ELA2015 (2)
    3. Describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges. [RL.2.3]
    ELA2015 (2)
    16. Explain how specific images (e.g., a diagram showing how a machine works) contribute to and clarify a text. [RI.2.7]
    ELA2015 (2)
    17. Describe how reasons support specific points the author makes in a text. [RI.2.8]
    ELA2015 (2)
    30. Recount or describe key ideas or details from a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media. [SL.2.2]
    ELA2015 (3)
    1. Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers. [RL.3.1]
    ELA2015 (3)
    3. Describe characters in a story (e.g., their traits, motivations, or feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events. [RL.3.3]
    ELA2015 (3)
    32. Determine the main ideas and supporting details of a text read aloud or information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally. [SL.3.2]

    Local/National Standards:


    Primary Learning Objective(s):

    Students will be active listeners while listening to the biography of Vincent Van Gogh's life and observe his works.

    Students will evaluate how events from his life impacted his decisions and his work. 

    Students will discuss how mood and emotion are conveyed through the colors and strokes in his pieces of art.  

    Students will discuss in pairs or groups and answer text-based questions about Van Gogh.

    Students will paint a still life interpretation of Van Gogh's Vase of Twelve Sunflowers.

    Additional Learning Objective(s):

    Teacher can opt to have students fold a piece of paper in half and cut out a "vase type" shape to glue to the paper for their painting. This can introduce a discussion on symmetry and line of symmetry. (not a standard that is noted above)

     Preparation Information 

    Total Duration:

    61 to 90 Minutes

    Materials and Resources:

    This lesson plan is based around the book Vincent Van Gogh: Sunflowers and Swirly Stars (Smart About Art) by Joan Halub The majority of the lesson plan focuses on this book. Portions of the lesson plan can be completed without it, or using other biographical sources. (I have even provided a few below) However, some of the standards may not be met, and some of the questions asked may not be applicable. I do HIGHLY recommend the book! It is very cheap, and full of information which is presented in an interesting format.

    pencils, paint, brushes, heavy paper or canvas, paper/styrofoam plates, or paint trays, clean up materials, computer, projector

    Technology Resources Needed:


    Teacher should read and be familiar with the biography and have prompting questions prepared. Some questions will be provided below, but they will be based on the book mentioned above.

    Materials should be gathered.

    If teacher wants to create a rubric for assessment other than the one included, that should be done ahead of time.


    Day 1:

    Step 1. Teacher will read the book Vincent Van Gogh: Sunflowers and Swirly Stars aloud to the class. While reading, teacher will ask questions such as: 

    What was Vincent's childhood like?

    Step 2. Discuss Vincent's failures with your partner/group. How do you think this affected him? Cite specific examples from the reading.

    Step 3. Discuss with your partner/group the importance of Vincent's relationship with his brother Theo. Use examples from the story. 

    How does the use of color in The Potato Eaters convey the emotion of the subjects?

    How did the paintings of artists like Monet and Gaugin influence and transform Vincent's artistic style?

    Step 4. Teacher should have students share aloud from their partner/group talks.

    Day 2:

    Step 1. Students will view examples of Vincent's work, which can be found online. This video of a song about Vincen'ts life conatains many images of his art. Here are some others.

    Step 2. Students will produce their own interpretation of Van Gogh's Vase with Twelve Sunflowers. They will draw first with pencil, then use paint to complete the project.

    Step 3. When paintings are complete and dry, they may be hung around the room or in another location to create a gallery of student work. 


    Assessment Strategies

    Teacher will use observation and anecdotal notes to assess children's listening and responses during the read aloud.  

    To assess artwork, teacher may create their own rubric or use this one.


    Students can research other paintings by Van Gogh and create their own interpretations of those paintings.

    Students can research to write their own biography of Van Gogh's life.


    Have an aide or other assistant help students who have trouble with drawing, painting, or other fine motor skills.

    Teacher may preread the story to struggling readers so that they will be better prepared for discussions during the whole group reading.

    Each area below is a direct link to general teaching strategies/classroom accommodations for students with identified learning and/or behavior problems such as: reading or math performance below grade level; test or classroom assignments/quizzes at a failing level; failure to complete assignments independently; difficulty with short-term memory, abstract concepts, staying on task, or following directions; poor peer interaction or temper tantrums, and other learning or behavior problems.

    Presentation of Material Environment
    Time Demands Materials
    Attention Using Groups and Peers
    Assisting the Reluctant Starter Dealing with Inappropriate Behavior
    Be sure to check the student's IEP for specific accommodations.