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Celebrated Impressions from the Painters of Paris

Author: Debra Migden


Shawmont Elementary School

Year: 2007

Seminar: Art and the Life of the City

Grade Level: 3

Keywords: Art, artists, Impressionist, Paris, society

School Subject(s): Arts, Global History, History, Social Studies, Visual Art

History provides the setting and context for a work of art and helps us understand the artists and the circumstances in which the work was made. Art reflects the times and cultures of the people who produce them. Art history provides a kind of timeline that shows how art has developed from early human history to present. It also shows how artists have been influenced by previous artistic styles, by technology and social change and the like, and how these influences showed up in the artwork…We understand today’s art more fully when we can trace its development through time (Brommer 111).

Impressionist exhibitions are among the most visited ones at art museums today. Why are so many people flocking to see the masterpieces of the Impressionists? Is it the reality of the life portrayed, the depiction of people at work, celebrations, recreation, city streets, the countryside, and transportation? Is it the portrayal of the poor and the wealthy of that time period? Is it the colors, light, and brushstrokes used by these painters that are aesthetically inspiring? All of these factors are important and contribute to the unique image of nineteenth century Paris that Impressionist works convey. With this in mind, I have planned this curriculum unit to enhance students’ knowledge of Impressionist art and history. A study of the Impressionists can be easily connected to the Philadelphia Core Curriculum by having students compare the way people lived during the Impressionist time period to the way people live today, helping them to get a better understanding of how society changes over time.

What made these artists of Paris want to pursue their new vision in the face of harsh criticism? The fact that people sometimes react badly to change is an idea we will explore in this curriculum. Students will be asked to examine their own feelings about new ideas, and learn about the Impressionist’s perseverance in the face of opposition. Students will learn about some of the more famous master Impressionist artists and how these artists represented a new vision of artistic expression.

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Full Unit Text

History provides the setting and context for a work of art and helps us understand the artists and the circumstances in which the work was made. Art reflects the times and cultures of the people who produce them. Art history provides a kind of timeline that shows how art has developed from early human history to present. It also shows how artists have been influenced by previous artistic styles, by technology and social change and the like, and how these influences showed up in the artwork…We understand today’s art more fully when we can trace its development through time (Brommer 111).

Impressionist exhibitions are among the most visited ones at art museums today. Why are so many people flocking to see the masterpieces of the Impressionists? Is it the reality of the life portrayed, the depiction of people at work, celebrations, recreation, city streets, the countryside, and transportation? Is it the portrayal of the poor and the wealthy of that time period? Is it the colors, light, and brushstrokes used by these painters that are aesthetically inspiring? All of these factors are important and contribute to the unique image of nineteenth century Paris that Impressionist works convey. With this in mind, I have planned this curriculum unit to enhance students’ knowledge of Impressionist art and history. A study of the Impressionists can be easily connected to the Philadelphia Core Curriculum by having students compare the way people lived during the Impressionist time period to the way people live today, helping them to get a better understanding of how society changes over time.

What made these artists of Paris want to pursue their new vision in the face of harsh criticism? The fact that people sometimes react badly to change is an idea we will explore in this curriculum. Students will be asked to examine their own feelings about
new ideas, and learn about the Impressionist’s perseverance in the face of opposition. Students will learn about some of the more famous master Impressionist artists and how these artists represented a new vision of artistic expression.


I am a third grade teacher in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and teach in a self-contained classroom with 30 students. A recurring problem in city schools is the lack of art and art history in the curriculum. Therefore, it will be ideal to expose students to the study of Impressionists art through a multidisciplinary approach. This three-week curriculum will go through series of learning experiences and encourage students to become active learners while fulfilling the Pennsylvania State Standards in reading, writing, listening, art skills and art history. Observing the subjects and events in Impressionists’ artwork can spark discussion about how students observe everyday reality in their own lives. Children at this age can relate their own emotions to the ones expressed through the art work and think about events and places in their lives that produce the same feelings.

It is important that third graders have an opportunity to view great works of art, to enrich their minds and think beyond their surroundings. Through independent reading of informational books, listening to “read alouds” from the teacher, and through internet searches, the unit will engage third graders in their own learning processes. The students will learn about the lives of master Impressionist artists and deepen their understanding of the Impressionist movement overall. Impressionists looked to their everyday lives for inspiration, portraying their family, friends, and the life of the city in their art.

This unit will show the value of art history research in developing writing skills. The curriculum unit provides an opportunity for the students to demonstrate their skills as proficient writers by developing an expository writing piece. Lessons will convey information about Impressionist art through biographies, internet research, and reproductions of paintings from these artists

The unit will culminate in a class presentation that will allow students to put together the information they have learned. This provides another opportunity to cover state mandated skill areas, including speaking and organizing a presentation.

Historical Background Until the Impressionist period, accepted subjects for painting included religious works, works of mythology, historical themes and ancient history. Artists worked to please the state and religious institutions at that time. To learn their trade, French artists would view and copy masterpieces of Italian, Spanish, Flemish, and French paintings at the Louvre. Copying these paintings was considered useful training for these artists. The classical style prevalent in France at the beginning of the nineteenth century was conservative and
supported the status quo ideas of that time period. Paintings were dark in color and had few light reflections.

Romanticism and Realism

During the Romantic period in the early nineteenth century the artists painted historical scenes, images from folklore, and landscapes. They used strong colors and vigorous brushstrokes to depict their subjects in a dramatic way. Two very famous artists at the time were Théodore Géricault (French, 1791-1824) and Eugène Delacroix (French, 17981863). The artists of the Romantic art movement appreciated the classical style of painting, but wanted to move away from this traditional stlye (artlex). In contrast to classicism, Romantic art focused on imagination, emotion and freedom.

Realist painters, who were active during the mid-nineteenth century, believed in the importance of putting down what they could see with their own eyes. Realists thought that whether the subject matter was beautiful or ugly it should be painted as it was seen (Salvi 14). The Realists painters went to the country to escape from the political and social conditions they experienced living under the Constitutional Monarchy of Louis Philippe. In these rural areas artists would paint ordinary people, such as peasants, artisans, farmers, and laborers–subjects that had not previously been taken up by serious art. The Realists painters would paint nature and light as exactly as they saw it. This new work led younger painters to view art from a new perspective. The public did not appreciate this style of painting at first, and its influence was debated. However, it eventually became an established style, which influenced the Paris art scene in the 1860s. Gustave Courbert was one of the first recognized realist painters because of the subjects he painted as well as his aggressive brush strokes. His work influenced many younger painters and he quickly gained the respect of the public. (Feist 29).

Economic and Social Development

Between 1800 and 1850 the economic and social structure in France was changing rapidly. The population grew from 500,000 to one million. Charles Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, who was elected the President of the French Republic in 1848, was very interested in civil engineering and wanted to make the country more industrial. Bonaparte, assuming the title of Emperor Napoleon III of France, appointed Georges Haussmann as Prefect of the Seine in Paris. Haussmann profoundly changed the urban structure of the city. The sanitary and living conditions were extremely poor in Paris, and Napoleon III and Haussmann wanted to make Paris healthier by using aqueducts to bring spring water into the city. As a response to the overcrowding, Haussman drew up a plan to demolish entire areas of houses and replace them with wide boulevards and modern buildings. Haussmann created tree lined streets, landscaped parks and squares, and a sewer system, transforming Paris into the city that we know. Even though these changes
were beneficial to a number of people, Haussnann made many enemies as well. The most famous was French novelist Victor Hugo, author of Les Miserables.

Many working class Parisians were displaced to poor and degraded suburbs. A number of people were outraged by Haussmann’s sometimes unnecessary demolition of ancient buildings (Salvi 8). Nevertheless Paris was now more elegant and fashionable. The city was full of lively cafes, restaurants, and theaters. This in turn boosted the economy and expanded the middle class. Napoleon III now wanted France to achieve global recognition for its newly created city and economy.

A World’s Fair was held in Paris in 1855, a goal of which was to establish Paris as an art center with style and significance. This exhibit attracted many artists who were later to become the Impressionists (Salvi 9). Under Napoleon III a metal and glass building for the Universal Exposition of 1855 was constructed to display French art. The exhibition was identified with the Salon, the great hall in the Louvre where the artwork was juried (Feist 56). The Salon exhibition was important to young artists because it helped them to sell their pieces of art. Selling meant survival for these artists. Due to the social and economic changes of the time, art was now being bought by upper middle class individuals, and commissioned artwork was becoming less common.

The Salon showed historical and serious subject matter with dark colors—the accepted style of painting at that time. For many year artists painted indoors, in their studios or official art schools. However, the Impressionist artists challenged this custom, painting outdoors, and capturing nature’s light and color. Landscapes, city scenes and life in public places were the focus for the Impressionists. This meant the painters had to work quickly because the light was constantly changing. There wasn’t enough time for the artists to outline their subjects first, and therefore they had to paint directly on canvas impressions of what they saw. Many believe that the invention of paint in a tube in 1840 helped make it easier for these artists to work quickly while painting outdoors (Salvi 12).

As part of the newly established scene of Paris, many of the artists met in cafes where they engaged in spirited discussions about their art. A group of artists including Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Mary Cassatt and Egar Degas decided to establish their own exhibition in 1874 and sell their work. (Brenneman 18). It was decided that there would be no jury to accept their work and no invitations. The reaction of the critics was not very good and initially the exhibit was a failure. Many critics and the public thought these Impressionists had the wrong subjects and the wrong techniques. Some were angry; others laughed. The Impressionist artists did not want to give up and decided on another exhibition. After a time, critics began to understand the Impressionists artwork and react positively, but still only a few paintings were sold. The many unsold works were held for another exhibit, which had a positive effect (Raimondo 5).

An art critic who felt that Monet’s Impression Sunrise was amateur and unfinished gave the movement its name. The critic borrowed the name from Monet’s title and called the group of paintings “Exhibition of Impression.” In fact, this critic’s pronouncement accurately described the viewer’s response to the work: an effect, a feeling, an image, or vague memory (artclub). From this time on Impressionist art would forever be accepted by the public.

Impressionist Artists

Claude Monet (1840-1926)

Claude Monet, a leader of the Impressionist movement, grew up in the countryside. His family was affluent and very sociable, giving parties and concerts. Monet spent his childhood living on the coast of France, playing along ocean side cliffs, the hillsides, and crowed market places. As a boy Monet drew pictures of his friends and teachers. He didn’t like traditional school very much and decided he wanted to do what he loved best, which was drawing and painting outdoors. When he was eighteen he went to Paris to study art and worked very hard. He especially liked art school, where there was no real supervision, no tests, and no one took attendance. He even built an art studio on a little boat so he could sit inside or outside and paint as he floated down the river (Raimondo 46). Monet had an intense love for open scenery, parks, gardens and the countryside. He liked to paint multiple scenes showing different times of the day and weather.

In spite of Monet’s enjoyment of the landscape, he was aware of changing urban and industrial scenery. Especially important were his paintings of the railroad station, Gare Saint-Lazare, which showed that France was moving into the modern age. He even asked an engineer to release a puff of steam for him to paint.

Camille Pissarro (1830-1903)

Camille Pissarro was born on the Island of St. Thomas, where his family owned an import/export business. There was not much art instruction available when he was a boy so he taught himself how to paint and draw. As a young man he went to Paris and met other painters who enjoyed painting with bright colors outdoors. He often painted the countryside where he lived with his wife and eight children, but he also enjoyed painting the busy streets of Paris. Although Pissarro was often times poor, he was always ready to help younger artists with a place to stay in his home, advice and lessons. Pissarro was the oldest of the Impressionists group and therefore sometimes called “The father of Impressionism” (Raimondo 46, Salvi 56).

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919)
Renoir grew up in Paris, the son of a tailor and one of five children. He began his art career decorating porcelain cups and plates. He later studied art and painted in a studio with his friend Monet. Renoir loved to paint people talking, enjoying themselves at dinners, dances, and in the park. The people in Renoir’s paintings look relaxed not posed, giving the scenes a lively feel making his paintings full of life. Renoir began to sell his work when he painted portraits for wealthy families.

Mary Cassatt (1845-1926)

Mary Cassatt was not the only American among the Impressionists but was the only one who was part of the Paris inner circle. She was born in Pittsburgh to a wealthy family and moved to Philadelphia when she was five. As a young child, Cassatt was vivacious and athletic. At age sixteen she attended the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia. Cassatt had an excellent education and spoke several languages. By the time she was twenty-one, she went to Paris to attend art classes. Cassatt usually painted activities of rich people enjoying tea, the opera, riding in carriages; women with large hats and glamorous dress often appeared in her paintings. Her paintings often showed relationships between mothers and children (Meyers 256).

During the time that Mary Cassatt lived, it was expected that most women would have children, raise a family and take care of their homes. However, in opposition to the values of her time, she did not marry or have children. Cassatt was a liberated, forward thinker who was passionate about her artwork.

Edgar Degas (1834-1917)

Edgar Degas was born into a wealthy family in Paris where he continued to live for the rest of his life. As a young child he visited many museums, went to the opera and took art lessons. Although he wanted to be an artist, his father wanted him to go to law school; Edgar obeyed and did become a lawyer. He eventually decided to study art and copied from master painters in the Louvre. Unlike other Impressionist artists, Degas preferred painting indoors in a studio. His paintings depicted people in motion, particularly ballerinas, which made him famous. Degas also enjoyed working with clay and wax. One of his most famous ballerina sculptures was called Little Dancer of Fourteen Years. He dressed her in a tutu and added real hair, which he braided and tied with a ribbon. When this sculpture was exhibited it looked so life-like that it startled many people (Rubin 31).


This third grade curriculum unit will give the students an opportunity to learn about Impressionist art history and to express their ideas through reading, writing, listening, speaking and drawing.

The main objective is to introduce, motivate and give students an appreciation of the life and times of Impressionist artists. Students will be exposed to several examples of artwork by the Impressionists and will have the opportunity to discuss these artists’ subject matter. In examining reproductions, as well as listening to and reading biographies of the Impressionists, students will gain an understanding what life was like during the mid-nineteenth century. Also students will make connections between these paintings and their own lives today, thus increasing their awareness of their personal surroundings.

Secondly, students will explore, discover, and gather information using the Internet. Using Google, students will find websites that show illustrations of Impressionist art, including information and biographies of Impressionist artists. An objective of this unit is to give students an acquaintance with a wide array of possible research resources in print and on-line. Students will then communicate what they have learned by completing an informational piece of writing using the Five-Step Writing Process. This will allow students to communicate what they have learned while demonstrating their skills as proficient writers. Students will be given a copy of the Pennsylvania State Writing Rubric so they understand the expectations of being a proficient writer in third grade before completing their writing.

Finally, students will have the opportunity to express their own creativity while demonstrating their knowledge of these master Impressionist artists. This will be accomplished through a hands-on visual project. Students will be introduced to pointillism and asked to complete a picture in this artistic style. Artwork, poems, posters, dioramas, research reports, collages, or portraits will serve as culminating activities and will be shared among the students in the classroom.


A series of lessons will introduce the study of Impressionist Art, motivating students and engaging them in activities that promote learning. Many of the strategies utilized in this unit are taken from the Core Curriculum of Philadelphia already in place.

Read Aloud

The teacher will select good pieces of literature on Impressionist art and read aloud to students to model fluent expressive reading and to convey information that the students will be able to use in their writing pieces and culminating projects. K-W-L

With assistance from the teacher, students will complete a chart indicating what they already know about Impressionism (K), what they want to know (W), and when the
lesson is completed, students will write what they have learned (L). This will create a visual tool for shaping the students’ learning process.


The teacher will demonstrate how to conduct an Internet search. As the teacher goes through the various steps in the process of searching for information, he or she will “think aloud” so that students will understand what must be done. The teacher will verbalize areas of confusion and what to do about them. After modeling how to carry out an Internet search, the teacher will provide web sites and specific information to guide students to locate a given topic.

Graphic Organizers

Graphic organizers provide a visual demonstration of concepts being taught in the lesson. For instance, a Venn diagram will be used to help students organize their thoughts about characteristics of life during the era of Impressionism, characteristics of life today, and how they overlap. An informational graphic organizer will assist students with the prewriting component of their written pieces on Impressionist art. It will help them as they proceed with a first draft, revision, proofreading, and a published final writing piece.

Cooperative Pairs

As part of the process of working on their writing, students will share their work with a partner. This will allow students to get reactions and ideas from others and become more aware of making revisions and editing changes. The teacher will pair students according to academic skills to ensure that all participate equally.

Inside/Outside Circle

Incorporating this partner strategy enhances student engagement. The strategy places the students into two concentric circles gives them the chance to move around and share their ideas and reactions with other students. Not only do students get to give responses about what they see in Impressionistic art, but they also get to listen to other students, which gives them the opportunity to get a deeper understanding of the information.

At the end of the unit students will have an opportunity to enhance their speaking skills and demonstrate their creativity by presenting projects to an audience of classmates. Students will determine how they want to present their projects: individually, with a partner or in a small group.

Classroom Activities

Lesson 1: Life and times of Impressionists Artists

Time: Two – 60 minutes periods (approximate)


To gain an understanding of the life and times of Impressionists painters To show students how the Impressionist movement began To give students an opportunity to hear other students’ ideas and thoughts about the paintings and the Impressionist time period

Content Standards

1.5 A Listening to others 1.5 C Contribute to discussions


Reproductions of Impressionist Artwork, Chart paper, Markers, CD Player, CD – The Music Collection Grade 5 CD 1, Silver Burdett Ginn


Students will sit together in a group for a class discussion. Teacher will ask students the following: • How do the colors of the seasons change? • What favorite activities do you enjoy doing with your family? • What activities do you do outside? • Do you like to dance, read, or go to the seashore?

Teacher will then ask the students how they feel when they are involved in these activities. This will lead into a discussion about feelings and impressions, which is what the Impressionist artists conveyed in their work.

Developmental Activities

(1) Provide several reproductions of Impressionist art work and ask students if they have ever seen pictures like these before. Ask questions about what they see, think and feel about these paintings to develop thinking and elicit different opinions. Construct a list of their responses on chart paper. (2) Explain to students that Impressionists looked to their everyday lives for inspiration. They wanted to convey the awareness of a place at a particular time.
Impressionists wanted to show their friends, family, places they visited, and the life of the city in their art. (3) Share with students the fact that they will be learning about the lives of Impressionist painters and what life was like in Paris during the Impressionist Period. Explain background information about the Impressionist movement (See “Historical Background” section above). (4) Play a selection of Satie: Gymnopedie No.1 softly in the background and make students aware that they are listening to music from the Impressionist time period.

Day 2: More on the Life and Times of Impressionists Artists


Show a reproduction of Camille Pissarro 1897: The Boulevard Montmartre on a Winter Morning and have a class discussion using the following questions: • Where might this scene take place? Describe this place. • Discuss the weather. What season is it? What clues in the picture tell you this? • Look at the people. What do you think they are doing? Where might they be going? • What kinds of transportation do you see? What kinds of sounds would you hear? • Is this scene happening now or a long time ago? How can you tell? Can you imagine yourself in this picture? How do you think you would feel? Explain to students how Impressionists artist used their everyday surroundings for their inspiration.

Developmental Activities

(1) Students will work in small cooperative groups. Teacher will give each group a reproduction of an Impressionist painting to observe, and provide a list of questions to guide students during their observations. (2) The following are examples to use when asking about different types of paintings: • City Scenes – Use the same questions that were modeled to students in the above example. • Seaside – What are these people doing? Describe their clothing. How would you describe the place and time of day? Describe the weather, water, and boats. Would you want to be there? • Figures in motion – What are the subjects doing? What are they wearing? How are they acting? Do they show a certain feeling? Where is the painting taking place? Can you see yourself in this picture? • Portraits/Family Pictures – Who might these people be? What are they doing? How do you think the people feel? What might they be thinking? Where do you think the painting takes place? Describe anything else you may notice.
(3) Discuss the formal elements used by the artists. • What colors do you see in the painting? • What colors would an artist use to paint a sunny day or a stormy day? • Would different colors would the artists use to show the seasons of the year? • Do you notice how the brushstrokes look? Tell about what you see. • How do you think the artists used the brushstrokes to paint water, wind or sky? • Look at the paintings very close, then step back, what do you observe.

Closure: After students have finished examining different types of painting, have them come together and share their findings using the strategy “inside-outside circle.” This strategy will reaffirm information found during their observations.

First students count off by twos. The ‘ones’ form a smaller circle and the ‘twos’ form a bigger circle around the ones. Each student has to have a partner where the ones have to be with a two and the twos with a one. Once all students have a partner, the teacher gives the following directions,: (1) Only one group of students can speak at a time. If the question is asked to the ones, they are the only students that are allowed to talk; the twos listen to the ones ideas. Then the students switch turns. (2) Students only have 45 seconds to answer a series of questions. Some questions that could be asked are: • Have you ever visited a big city? Do you live in one? • What kind of celebrations do you enjoy? • Who would you paint in your family picture? • Would you want to be in the picture? Why or why not? • What is your favorite part about the picture? Why?

Accommodations and Modifications

Students will be working in cooperative groups and actively engaged throughout the lesson. Working with peers or partners will help the students who need learning support or who need to have differentiated instruction.

Assessment Strategies

Throughout the lesson, teacher continually monitors and records students’ activities, making sure they stay on task. During inside-outside circle, teacher monitor students’ responses to the questions asked.

Lesson 2: Internet Lesson
Time: Two – 60 minute sessions


To give students Internet navigational skills, which are necessary life skills To show students how to navigate the web using the search engine Google”

Content Standards

1.8 B Locate information using appropriate sources and strategies.


Chart Paper, access to a computer room, data sheet handout (One for each student).


In the beginning of the lesson, activate the students’ prior knowledge about the Internet. Using a KWL chart, ask them specific questions about the search engine Google. After the KWL chart is filled in, give each child a handout with step-by-step directions on how to get to Google’s main page. Once students are at the main page, explain that Google is a search engine used to find information about almost anything. Together with the class tell students they will search Impressionists Art for kids. Demonstrate, while the students follow along. When the ‘hits’ come up explain to students that a hit is a link that will lead to a website full of information about the topic. Then tell students that hits are ordered according to how many people view each website. Then show them that the number in the right hand corner is the total number of hits obtained for that specific topic. Next click on the first link to show students what happens.

Developmental Activities

(1) After finding information about your first topic, give students a list of artists that they have to find information about using Google. (2) Using a data sheet handout students’ record information about the artist they searched, how many hits they got, and list at least three websites that gave them information.


After students are finished gathering information about their selected artists, have a discussion about their findings. Ask students what they think the most interesting fact
they found was and why. Collect handouts and redistribute as a referral paper to aid them when composing their expository writing pieces.

Accommodations and Modifications

While students are working on their computers walk around the room and offer help where needed. If some students finish sooner, allow them to help others.


Students will hand in their data sheets, allowing the teacher to see if they stayed on task.

Lesson 3: Informational Writing

Time: Three 90-minute sessions.


Students demonstrate an understanding of the 5-step writing process

Content Standard

1.4 Types of Writing


Chart Paper, access to a computer room, data sheet handout (One for each student)


Explain to students that the purpose of an informational writing is to inform your audience about a specific topic. Model in the overhead how to complete the first step of the writing process using a Brainstorm Web to organize students’ information about Impressionists art. Continue through modeling each step, revising, proofreading, and publishing.

Developmental Activity

(1) Students will complete all 5-steps of the writing process. Students will work with partners to assist each other revising and editing their writing pieces. The 5-steps of the writing process are: pre-writing, first draft, revision, proofreading, and published piece.
(2) Students will refer to research they found in earlier lessons.


Students will meet individually with the teacher to evaluate their progress on the 5- step writing process thus far.


Students will be assessed on their focus, content, organization, style and conventions according to the Pennsylvania Writing Assessment Domain Scoring Guide.

Lesson 4: Art Project-Pointillism “Dot to Dot”

Time: 90 minute session


To understand the art technique of pointillism To understand optical color mixing

Students will demonstrate their understanding of pointillism by completing a picture in this artistic style.

Content Standard

9.1 Recognize, know, use and demonstrate a variety of appropriate art elements and principles to produce, review and revise original work in the arts.


Drawing paper, cotton swabs/paint brushes, paint supplies


Tell students that the purpose of the lesson is to complete an outdoor scene using the pointillism technique. Teacher will show a reproduction of Monet’s Garden at SainteAdresse 1867, showing how the garden is painted with spots of green, yellow, and reds. Camille Pissarro and Claude Monet sometimes painted using this technique. The teacher will model to the class the technique of pointillism by showing how to put one dot of paint next to another instead of on top of one another. Tell the students to look at a distance at the two dots next to each other and notice the blending.

Developmental Activity

(1) Students will first draw a simple outline of a place. (2) Students will then select colors to use in their picture. (3) Tell class to dip a cotton swab into the paint. Or use the tip of a paintbrush to make dots, like the Impressionists artists. (4) Have the students paint dots with the tip of the cotton swab. Use a different cotton swab for each color applied. (5) Have students experiment by placing different colors next to each other. • Model how combining yellow, red and orange could add up to an image of the sun. • Demonstrate how dark and light blues together show water or sky. • Model the colors green and yellow dots together to make grass. • Tell students to cover the entire picture with dots. (6) Have students look at their picture close up. Then step back from it and take a look. Ask what they notice. Tell students that seen from far away, their eyes should blend the colors of the dots together.


Have students share their paintings with the class and explain their drawings.


Students will be assessed on how well the dots of color in their image come together to create a subject or scene.


Drawing paper, cotton Swabs/paint brushes, paint supplies

Annotated Teacher Resources

Baber, Bonnie. “Shades of Monet.” Arts & Activities 125 (1993)

Brenneman, David A., Morton, Mary G., Mathieu, Caroline, Bascou, Marc. Paris in the Age of Impressionism Masterworks from the Musee D’ Orsay. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 2003. This book contains many high quality reproductions of paintings by many Impressionistic artists from the collection of the Orsay Museum.

Cromwell Productions Limited. The Impressionists: Pissarro [videorecording]: West
Long Branch, New Jersey: Cromwell Productions Limited. 1999. 50 minutes. This is a good visual presentation for students showing the life and work of Camille Pissarro

—. The Impressionists: Renoir. This is a good visual presentation for students showing the life and work of Pierre August Renoir.

Feist, Peter H. Impressionism Art 1860 – 1920; Part 1 Impressionism in France. New York: Taschen Publishers, 2002. An excellent book containing a lot of historical information, including related artistic developments taking place in Europe and North America. The author included a directory of 236 Impressionists artists, with an illustration of the work and a summary for each. Writers, art critics, and art dealers are included in the directory.

Hubbard, Guy. “Clip and Save,” Arts & Activities v130.n1 (2001): 33. A brief description of what Impressionist art is and an idea for a hands-on approach for students to better understand Impressionism. An example of one painting by Frederick Childe Hassam is shown to for students to examine.

Kunstler, James Howard. The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition. New York: The Free Press, 2001. This book contains a good introduction to understanding the modernization of Paris in the mid-nineteenth century. A chapter discusses who was responsible and what was happening economically and politically at the time.

Michels, Heide. Monet’s House An Impressionist Interior. New York: Clarkson Publishers, 1997. Actual photographs are shown of Claude Monet home and family.

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Monet: Legacy of Light.[videorecording] Home Vision, 1989. 28 minutes

Myers, Jeffery. Impressionists Quartet; The Intimate Genius of Manet and Morisot Degas and Cassatt, New York: Harcourt. Inc., 2005. The context of this book describes social and historical information of the four artists. The author gives many details concerning the emotional entanglements and relationships these artists had.

Nord, Philip, Impressionists and Politics; Art and Democracy in the Nineteenth Century. London: Routledge, 2002. The author of this book writes in concise detail the history of the Impressionist movement including the social, economic, and political transformations experienced at the time.

Open University. Paris in the 19th Century [videorecording]: The making of a Modern City. Princeton, NJ: Films for the Humanities and Sciences, 2001. A visual representation illustrating and explaining the transformation from the old Paris to the new Paris in the late 19th century to the early 20th century.

Roe, Sue. The Private Lives of the Impressionists. New York: HarperCollins, 2006. This book gives an excellent realistic descriptive view of the lives of Impressionists artists. The family backgrounds are discussed from young children to adulthood. The author writes about the homes, the café life frequented by these artists, their friends in their early days to their married lives with children.

Raimondo, Joyce. Picture This! Activities and Adventures in Impressionism. New York: Watson-Guptill Publications, 2004. Raimondo writes a marvelous book for third grade level children. This book encourages child to explore Impressionism with much creativity. Many simple art ideas are presented to children correlating with an art theme that is present in an Impressionist picture. This book is also useful as a student resource.

Stephens, Pamela, and Nancy Walkup. Bridging the Curriculum Through Art Interdisciplinary Connections. Glenview, Illinois: Crystal Productions, 2000. This text offers teacher an extremely organized way to use art across all disciplines, including: language Arts, social studies, mathematics, and science. Many activities are suggested for teachers to use in the classroom. Worksheets and rubrics are also given for teachers use. This is an extremely helpful book for all teachers to have in their pedagogy library.

Siegel, Jerrold. Bohemian Paris: Culture, Politics, and the Boundaries of Bourgeois Life, 1830-1930. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 1986. This book gives an excellent background for the political and social climate of Paris. Seigel discusses various writers and artists’ philosophies of the time.

The Music Collection Grade 5: CD 1, Silver Burdett Ginn.

Todd, Pamela. The Impressionists at Home. London: Thames & Hudson Ltd., 2005. The author gives much content on the biographies of many artist of this time period. She includes illustrations as well as photographs. It is an excellent look at the real artists with their families, homes and the studios where they painted. I particularly like the way the book is divided into subject themes. Paintings are placed under useful categories such as: eating, places to meet, working, playing, and reading. Teachers may want to preview or make certain selections due to the nudity in the artwork.

White, Barbara Ehrlich. Renoir His Life, Art, and Letters. New York: Harry N Abrams, Inc., 1984.

Annotated Student Resources

Baillet, Yolande. The Impressionists. Trans. John Goodman. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1995.

Bolton, Linda. Impressionism. New York, Belitha Limited, 2000. An excellent book for looking at the small details about each painting and giving historical background.

Kelly, True. Claude Monet Sunshine and Waterlilies. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 2001. The author does a wonderful job telling this story with a from a students point of view and with a sense of humor.

Knight, Joan MacPhail. Charlotte in Giverny. California: Chronicle Books LLC., 2000

—. Charlotte in Paris. California: Chronicle Books LLC., 2003. This is a delightful book written as a journal with historical facts from the point of view of a young girl in the 1890’s.

Harrison, Peter. Claude Monet. New York: Sterling Publishers Co., Inc., 1996 The book is appropriate for third grade level students. It includes interesting historical facts. The book features large type and pictures that are explained with detailed captions.

Mayhew, James. Katie Meets the Impressionists. New York: Orchard Books, 1999. This is a lovely story about a young girl who travels through time, jumping into Impressionist paintings and meeting the people in the paintings.

Muhlberger, Richard. What Makes Degas A Degas? The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: Viking, 1993.

—. What Makes Monet a Monet?. New York: Viking, 1993.

—. What Makes A Cassatt A Cassatt?. New York: Viking, 1993. The books listed are written for students to understand the artist background and explains individual paintings from the artists.

Parsons, Tom. Art for Young People Pierre Auguste Renoir. New York: Sterling Publishing Co., Inc., 1996.

Rubin, Susan Goldman. Degas and the Dance. New York: Harry Abrams, Inc., 2002.

Salvi, Francesco. The Impressionists. New York: Peter Bedrick Books, 1998. This is an excellent book for teachers as well as students. The author deals with specific topics represented with double page illustrations. The illustrations include characters, places, and important events. Drawings, paintings, and artifacts complete the pictures. This is a wonderful book to help students fully understand the chronological order of the Impressionist movement. The illustrations have some nudity, and need to be previewed before showing to students.

Streissguth, Tom. Mary Cassatt Portrait of an American Impressionist. Minneapolis: Carolrhoda Books, Inc., 1999. This is a chapter book containing few pictures and much written information on Mary Cassatt’s life. A proficient reader with good comprehension would enjoy this book.

Turner, Robyn Montana. Mary Cassatt. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1992.

Venezia, Mike. Mary Cassatt. Chicago: Children’s Press, 1990.

—. Monet. Chicago: Children’s Press, 1990.

Web Resources
Art Club. Impressionist Style. This is an easy to navigate site which gives biographies and pictures of paintings. Although it has a link to buy reproductions it gives good information. This site needs to be previewed due to nudity in some illustrations.
ArtLex. <> This is a very useful site which offers definitions and explainations of terms used in discussing art. Examples of artworks are displayed by time period.

Bellenger, Sylvain. Why Do We Love Impressionism? The Cleveland Museum of Art I was very impressed with how the Cleveland Museum of Art designed its web page. It is very colorful, easy to read, and gives information that is easy to understand.
Dr. Lori. French Impressionist Camille Pissarro. Masterpiece Technologies. 2007. <> A good timeline description of the Impressionist years and the early life of Camille Pissarro.
Hearts-ease. <> Contains good background information about the Romantic Art Movement between 1800 and 1850.
Musse d’ Art American. Welcome to Claude Monet’s. 30 Nov. 2006. <> Excellent site for children to learn about Claude Monet. This site is easy to navigate and provides information about museums, colors used by Monet, Monet’s Japanese woodblock prints, biography and his garden. It also includes a travel itinerary all about visiting Giverny with children.
Musee d’Art American. Terra Foundation for the Arts. Mary Cassatt Presented to Children. 16 March 2006. <> This site offers a short biography of Mary Cassatt with one picture for students to examine and answer questions.
Pennsylvania Writing Assessment Domain Scoring Guide. A four point rubric is used to assess students writing pieces. Students are scorred on focus, content, organization, style and conventions.
Philadelphia Museum of Art <> The Philadelphia Museum of Art offers a set of six teaching posters with a resource book item # 10498 called “The Figure of the Impressionist Era”
Sabbeth, Carol. Monet for Kids. Chicago Review <> This site provides picture and biographies of master Impressionists artists.

Appendix-Standards Pennsylvania Academic Standards for Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening for Grade 3

1.1 Learning to Read Independently

A. Identify the purpose and types of text (e.g., literature, information) before reading. G. Demonstrate after-reading understanding and interpretation of both fiction and nonfiction text.

1.2 Reading Critically in All Content Areas

A. Read and understand essential content of informational tests and documents in all academic areas.
B. Use and understand a variety of media and evaluate the quality of material produced.

1.3 Reading, analyzing and Interpreting Literature

A. Read and Understand works of literature.

1.4 Quality of Writing

A. Write with a sharp, distinct focus identifying topic, task and audience. B. Write using well-developed content appropriate for the topic.

1.5 Speaking and Listening

A. Listen to Others B. Listen to selections of literature (fiction and/or nonfiction) C. Contribute to discussions

Pennsylvania Academic Standards for the Arts and Humanities for Grade 3

9.1.3 Production, Performance and Exhibition of Dance, Music, Theatre and Visual Art

A. Know and use the elements and principles of each art form to create works in the arts and humanities. B. Recognize, know, use and demonstrate a variety of appropriate art elements and principles to produce, review and revise original works in the arts. C. Recognize and use fundamental vocabulary within each of the art forms. D. Use knowledge of varied styles within each art form through a performance or exhibition of unique work.

9.2.3 Historical and Cultural Contexts

A. Explain the historical, cultural and social context of an individual work in the arts. C. Relate works in the arts to varying styles and genre and to the periods in which they were created. D. Analyze a work of art from its historical and cultural perspective.

9.4.3 Aesthetic Response

A. Know how to respond to a philosophical statement about works in the arts and humanities.
C. Recognize that the environment of the observer influences individual aesthetic responses to works in the arts. D. Recognize that choices made by artists regarding subject matter and themes communicate ideas through works in the arts and humanities.