Collars, Curtains & Kings: Exploring the History of Lace

By Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, September 20, 2006

Grade Level

  • High School


  • Design History

Subject Area

  • Arts
  • Language Arts
  • Social Studies

Lesson Time

Two fifty-minute class periods


[embed][/embed] Design invites us to explore the world of objects. In this activity students will learn about lace. They will explore the history of lace, how lace is made, where lace is made and the role of lace in women's lives. The class will create a lace mural highlighting what they learn about the world of lace.

National Standards

Standard 2. Understands the historical perspective 11. Knows how to perceive past events with historical empathy
Standard 11. Level IV. Understands the patterns and networks of economic interdependence on Earth's surface 1. Knows the spatial distribution of major economic systems and their relative merits in terms of productivity and the social welfare of workers (e.g., North Korea as a command economy, Burkina Faso as a traditional economy in the hinterlands beyond its cities, Singapore as a market economy)
Standard 4. Level IV. Gathers and uses information for research purposes 2. Uses a variety of print and electronic sources to gather information for research topics (e.g., news sources such as magazines, radio, television, newspapers; government publications; microfiche; telephone information services; databases; field studies; speeches; technical documents; periodicals; Internet) Standard 7. Level IV. Uses reading skills and strategies to understand and interpret a variety of informational texts 1. Uses reading skills and strategies to understand a variety of informational texts (e.g., textbooks, biographical sketches, letters, diaries, directions, procedures, magazines, essays, primary source historical documents, editorials, news stories, periodicals, catalogs, job-related materials, schedules, speeches, memoranda, public documents, maps)
Listening & Speaking
Standard 8. Level IV. Uses listening and speaking strategies for different purposes 3. Uses a variety of strategies to enhance listening comprehension (e.g., focuses attention on message, monitors message for clarity and understanding, asks relevant questions, provides verbal and nonverbal feedback, notes cues such as change of pace or particular words that indicate a new point is about to be made; uses abbreviation system to record information quickly; selects and organizes essential information) 4. Adjusts message wording and delivery to particular audiences and for particular purposes (e.g., to defend a position, to entertain, to inform, to persuade) 5. Makes formal presentations to the class (e.g., includes definitions for clarity; supports main ideas using anecdotes, examples, statistics, analogies, and other evidence; uses visual aids or technology, such as transparencies, slides, electronic media; cites information sources) 8. Responds to questions and feedback about own presentations (e.g., clarifies and defends ideas, expands on a topic, uses logical arguments, modifies organization, evaluates effectiveness, sets goals for future presentations)
Art Connections
Standard 1. Level IV. Understands connections among the various art forms and other disciplines 2. Knows how characteristics of the arts vary within a particular historical period or style and how these characteristics relate to ideas, issues, or themes in other disciplines
Working With Others
Standard 1. Contributes to the overall effort of a group
Visual Arts: Artistic Expression & Communication
Standard 2. Knows how to use structures (e.g., sensory qualities, organizational principles, expressive features) and functions of art 1. Understands how the characteristics and structures of art are used to accomplish commercial, personal, communal, or other artistic intentions

Common Core Standards

Anchors for Reading:

Key Ideas and Details:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.1 Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.2 Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.3 Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.7 Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.1

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.8 Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, including the validity of the reasoning as well as the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence.

Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.10 Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.

Anchor standards for Speaking and Listening:

Comprehension and Collaboration:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.1 Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.2 Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.3 Evaluate a speaker's point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric.

Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.5 Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations.


Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and communicative tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.

Anchor standards for Language:

Conventions of Standard English:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.1 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

Vocabulary Acquisition and Use:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.6 Acquire and use accurately a range of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when encountering an unknown term important to comprehension or expression.


Students will do the following:
  • brainstorm responses
  • conduct Internet research
  • compare, contrast, synthesize and evaluate diverse sources of information
  • participate in small-group and large-group discussion
  • relate historical events to current-day events
  • learn about the social and economic conditions surrounding lace making
  • create a mural


  • Internet websites about lace and the history of lace-making


  • computer with Internet access
  • drawing or construction paper to make a mural
  • markers, crayons, pencils
  • scissors, glue, tape


  • Procedures

    Building Background Observations on Lace

    The purpose of this activity is to introduce students to the topic of lace. 1. Ask the class to brainstorm responses to the following prompt: List some examples of where you have seen lace used. Record students' responses. Ask the students to look for additional examples of lace that can be added to the list. 2. Provide students with copies of home furnishing and fashion magazines and ask them to find examples of lace. Teacher Note: You can also assign this as homework prior to beginning the lesson activity.

    Fascinating Facts on Lace

    The purpose of this activity is to introduce the role of lace in a historical context.

    1. As a class, read the article on the history of lace making in 16th century France. This can be viewed at .

    2. Ask the students to briefly discuss what surprised them the most about the information in this article.

    Steps for Learning

    The purpose of this activity is to help students explore the topic of lace from multiple perspectives.

    1. Divide the class into small research groups. Tell the students that they are going to research different aspects of lace using the web resources provided.  Tell the students that they are going to create a class mural based on what they have learned.

    Group One: History of Lace

    Group Two: Lace Around the World


    Group Three: Lace Around the World  

    Group Four: Women Lace Makers

    View Youtube clip posted in introduction

    Group Five: Issues in Lace Making

    3. Ask students to discuss the following questions prior to beginning the class mural:
    • How did lace play a role in the social and economic life of women?
    • How did world events and circumstances influence the production of lace in varied countries?
    • Are there current-day problems in the global economy that affect women?
      4. Provide time for the students to construct the class mural. Ask each group to create a short oral presentation explaining the varied elements they used in the mural.



    Create a class rubric with your students that will help them assess their class mural. Use the following guidelines to help create the rubric. -Rate how effectively you analyzed the varied information sources you used. Excellent             Good            Adequate            Poor -Rate how well you described the varied components of lace. Excellent             Good            Adequate            Poor -Rate your creativity. Excellent             Good            Adequate            Poor -Rate the overall quality of your mural. Excellent             Good            Adequate            Poor

    Enrichment Extension Activities

    Activity One: Antique Irish Lace Museum
    Have your students browse the website of the Antique Irish Lace Museum to learn more about lace making in Ireland at
    Activity Two: Lace Making Equipment
    1. Ask your students to learn more about some of the equipment that was used in lace making by browsing the website at .(Click on each piece of equipment on the sidebar).

    Leave a reply

    You must be logged in to post a comment.