Collars, Curtains & Kings: Exploring the History of Lace

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

Grade Level

  • Middle School


  • Fashion Design

Subject Area

  • Arts
  • Language Arts
  • Social Studies

Lesson Time

Two fifty-minute class periods


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 III. Understands the patterns and networks of economic interdependence on Earth's surface 2. Understands issues related to the spatial distribution of economic activities (e.g., the impact of economic activities in a community on the surrounding areas, the effects of the gradual disappearance of small-scale retail facilities such as corner general stores and gas stations, the economic and social impacts on a community when a large factory or other economic activity leaves and moves to another place)
Standard 4. Level III. Gathers and uses information for research purposes 3. Uses a variety of resource materials to gather information for research topics (e.g., magazines, newspapers, dictionaries, schedules, journals, phone directories, globes, atlases, almanacs, technological sources) Standard 7. Level III. 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of informational texts (e.g., electronic texts; textbooks; biographical sketches; directions; essays; primary source historical documents, including letters and diaries; print media, including editorials, news stories, periodicals, and magazines; consumer, workplace, and public documents, including catalogs, technical directions, procedures, and bus routes)
Listening & Speaking
Standard 8. Level III. Uses listening and speaking strategies for different purposes 6. Makes oral presentations to the class (e.g., uses notes and outlines; uses organizational pattern that includes preview, introduction, body, transitions, conclusion; uses a clear point of view; uses evidence and arguments to support opinions; uses visual media)
Art Connections
Standard 1. Level III. Understands connections among the various art forms and other disciplines 2. Understands characteristics of works in various art forms that share similar subject matter, historical periods, or cultural context
Working With Others
Standard 1. Contributes to the overall effort of a group
Visual Arts: Artistic Expression & Communication
Standard 2. Level III. Knows how to use structures (e.g., sensory qualities, organizational principles, expressive features) and functions of art 3. Knows how the qualities of structures and functions of art are used to improve communication of one's ideas

Common Core State Standards

English Language Arts Standards Writing 

Grade 6-8

Production and Distribution of Writing:

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.WHST.6-8.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.WHST.6-8.5 With some guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on how well purpose and audience have been addressed.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.WHST.6-8.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and present the relationships between information and ideas clearly and efficiently.
  • Production and Distribution of Writing:
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.WHST.6-8.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

English Language Arts Standards: Speaking and Listening

Grade 6-8

Comprehension and Collaboration:

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.6-8.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade level topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.6-8.1.A Come to discussions prepared, having read or researched material under study; explicitly draw on that preparation by referring to evidence on the topic, text, or issue to probe and reflect on ideas under discussion.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.6-8.2 Analyze the purpose of information presented in diverse media and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) and evaluate the motives (e.g., social, commercial, political) behind its presentation.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.8.3 Delineate a speaker's argument and specific claims, evaluating the soundness of the reasoning and relevance and sufficiency of the evidence and identifying when irrelevant evidence is introduced.

Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas:

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.6-8.4 Present claims and findings, emphasizing salient points in a focused, coherent manner with relevant evidence, sound valid reasoning, and well-chosen details; use appropriate eye contact, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.6-8.5 Integrate multimedia and visual displays into presentations to clarify information, strengthen claims and evidence, and add interest.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.6-8.6 Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate. (See grade 8 Language standards 1 and 3 here for specific expectations.)

English Language Arts Standards: Reading Informational Text

Grade 6-8    

Key Ideas and Details:

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.6-8.3 Analyze the interactions between individuals, events, and ideas in a text (e.g., how ideas influence individuals or events, or how individuals influence ideas or events).
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.6-8.6 Determine an author's point of view or purpose in a text and analyze how the author distinguishes his or her position from that of others.

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas:

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.6-8.7 Compare and contrast a text to an audio, video, or multimedia version of the text, analyzing each medium's portrayal of the subject (e.g., how the delivery of a speech affects the impact of the words).
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.6-8.8 Trace and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is sound and the evidence is relevant and sufficient to support the claims.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.6-7.9 Analyze how two or more authors writing about the same topic shape their presentations of key information by emphasizing different evidence or advancing different interpretations of facts.

Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.6-8.10 By the end of the year, read and comprehend literary nonfiction in the grades 6-8 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.


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 lace-making
  • There are many Youtube clips of lace making in action!


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


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

    Lefkara Lace

Three: Lace Around the World

    Lace Making in Puerto Rico

Group Four: Women Lace Makers

    Rosa Elena

Group Five: Issues in Lace Making

2. Tell the students that they may use the images listed below to create their mural:

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
Ask your students to learn more about some of the equipment that was used in lace making by browsing the website at on each piece of equipment on the sidebar).

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