Tar Beach Contemporary Art Lesson for Kids
An art lesson on collages!
Students learn about the Contemporary American artist Faith Ringgold, and create their own story quilt collage inspired by her book, Tar Beach.
Grade Level: 2nd - 4th grade
Time Required: 3 45 minute class periods
Vocabulary: Collage, Imagination, Quilt, Illustrate, Scene, Rich/Vibrant
National Core Arts Standards:
Creating: #1, 2, 3
Presenting/Producing: #4, 5, 6
Responding: #7, 8, 9
Connecting: #10, 11
Brushes – medium and small
Pencils, scissors and glue
Scraps of decorative paper
TAR BEACH, by Faith Ringgold, 1991
Tar Beach is a beautiful picture book about the power of imagination. It is about a young girl’s imaginative ability to be able to magically fly over and tell the story of the favorite places and experiences she’s had in her life during the Depression era. The story and art reflect the African American culture of the period in a series of paintings framed by a border resembling a quilt. In this lesson plan, students create their own “story quilt” collage based on a favorite memory of their own, inspired by the work of the famous writer, painter and quilter, Faith Ringgold.
1. Begin by having students think of a favorite memory, simple enough that they feel confidant illustrating it. Have them work it out on scratch paper. Prep final 9x12 papers with a centered 6 x 9 in. box. Students then draw their scene of a favorite memory.
2. On a second piece of paper, demonstrate how to draw a simple 4-1/2 in. image of themselves in a horizontal flying/floating position. Suggest ways to have fun with arm and leg positions and clothing, shoes or hats.
3. Decide what coloring materials you would like to set out for students. Pictured here is a painting in tempera. However, markers, colored pencils, or crayons could be used, as well. Encourage rich, vibrant colors.
4. Have students color their own images with whatever they used for their memory illustrations. They can then carefully cut out their figures. Creating the quilt-like border
Pictured here are 1-in. pieces, cut and then cut again into irregular bits from painted paper scraps. Pre-cutting the pieces for students can save a lot of time. The pieces can be positioned butted up against each other and around the edges of the art, or spaced out as shown. Gluing them down a bit crooked gives the overall look a fun, folksy feel. For details on creating painted paper in the classroom, refer to the directions from December’s Dream Snow lesson plan. This border art could also be made from patterned scrapbook paper or magazine pages.
Adding the personal touch
Have students handwrite or use a computer to describe their memory in a simple sentence. Begin with “If I could fly.” They then cut it out, position and glue along the border of the illustration.
Students position the figures of themselves flying over their scenes, and glue it down.
Mount final art on black construction paper to set off the colorful artwork.