Graphs, Poetry, and a Splash of Color

By Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, August 30, 2006

Grade Level

  • Elementary School


  • Other

Subject Area

  • Arts
  • Language Arts
  • Mathematics

Lesson Time

Two fifty-minute class periods


The world is full of vibrant colors that highlight our everyday experiences. In this activity students will explore color as they create graphs, write poetry, and examine varied interior designs.

National Standards


Students will do the following:
  • respond to writing prompts
  • conduct research
  • create a bar graph
  • write a poem
  • create a drawing
  • create an oral presentation


  • Internet websites


  • computer with Internet access
  • construction or drawing paper
  • crayons, markers, pencils


Building Background Activity One: My Favorites

The purpose of this activity is to activate students' background knowledge on the topic of color. 1. Ask your students to respond to the following writing prompts:
  • What is your favorite color? Why?
  • Describe how this color makes you feel.
  • Draw an object that contains your favorite color.
  2. Divide the students into pairs to share their responses. 3. Ask for volunteers to share their responses with the entire class.

Activity Two: Class Favorites

The purpose of this activity is to help students to create a bar graph using real world data. 1. Tell the students that they are going to collect data and create a bar graph. Teacher Note: Further information about bar graphs can be found at the following website: 2. Divide the class into small groups. Ask each group to record a list of every color of the clothing that the students in the group are wearing. Ask each group to create a bar graph using the color data. If you have access to multiple computers, you may wish to use the following website which allows students to create an online bar graph: 3. Ask each group to present its bar graph to the class. 4. Compile the individual group data, and, as a class, create a class color bar graph.

Steps for Learning Activity One: Color Poetry

The purpose of this activity is to encourage students to explore their individual responses to color.

1. Ask your students to explore the HGTV website at

This website contains an array of colors. As the user rolls the mouse over each color, a word describing the emotional and intellectual qualities related to that color appears on the screen. Examples include courageous, conservative, warmth, humorous and generous.

After the students have explored the varied colors, ask them to write a poem about color. Tell the students that they may use the words they explored on this website as inspiration. Ask the students to illustrate their poems. Encourage the students' creativity.

2. Have the students share their poetry with their classmates. Post the students' work for others in the school and community to view.


Create a class rubric with your students that will help them assess their learning. Use the following guidelines to help create the rubric.-Did my bar graph accurately represent my color data? (Yes, No) -Rate how well your group worked together. (Excellent, Good, Adequate, Poor) -How well did my poem express my feelings about color?
(Clearly and powerfully, Adequately, Not very well) -Did my drawing help explain my poem? (Yes, No)
-Rate your creativity. (Excellent, Good, Adequate, Poor)

Enrichment Extension Activities

Activity One: Closet Graphing
Ask your students to create a bar graph based on all the colors they find in their clothing closets.
  1. As a lover of poetry and art, I’m really interseted in trying this design lesson in collaboration with the Art teacher. I think that students will enjoy this lesson, as they become poets, writing poetry and integrating the beautiful world of colors.

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