My Favorite Things

By Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, August 23, 2006

Grade Level

  • PreK-1


  • Product Design

Subject Area

  • Language Arts
  • Technology

Lesson Time

Three fifty-minute class periods


In this activity students will learn to identify "masterpieces" and mass-produced objects. Students will explain why they value a given object. They will also determine what physical materials were used to create the objects. Students will create a class book featuring objects that they value.

National Standards

Standard 4. Level I. Understands the nature of technological design 
5. Knows that new objects can be created out of physical materials (e.g., paper, cloth) 
Language Arts
Standard 1. Level I. Uses the general skills and strategies of the writing process
7. Writes in a variety of forms or genres (e.g., picture books, friendly letters, stories, poems, information pieces, invitations, personal experience narratives, messages, responses to literature)
8. Writes for different purposes (e.g., to entertain, inform, learn, communicate ideas)
Standard 2. Level I. Uses the stylistic and rhetorical aspects of writing
1. Uses descriptive words to convey basic ideas
Standard 8. Level I. Uses listening and speaking strategies for different purposes 
1. Makes contributions in class and group discussions (e.g., reports on ideas and personal knowledge about a topic, initiates conversations, connects ideas and experiences with those of others)
2. Asks and responds to questions (e.g., about the meaning of a story, about the meaning of words or ideas)
3. Follows rules of conversation and group discussion (e.g., takes turns, raises hand to speak, stays on topic, focuses attention on speaker)
4. Uses different voice level, phrasing, and intonation for different situations (e.g., small group settings, informal discussions, reports to the class)
5. Uses level-appropriate vocabulary in speech (e.g., number words; words that describe people, places, things, events, location, actions; synonyms, antonyms; homonyms, word analogies, common figures of speech)


Students will do the following:

  • identify masterpieces and mass-produced items
  • identify materials used in the creation of objects
  • explain why they value a given object


  • photographs of a variety of masterpieces, such as buildings, paintings, jewelry, etc.
  • photographs of a variety of interesting mass-produced objects, such as glasses, airplanes, clothing, etc.



1. An outstanding work of art or craft.

2. Something superlative of its kind.


To manufacture in large quantities, often by or as if by assembly-line techniques.

(The American Heritage Dictionary)


Building Background
Masterpiece or Mass-produced? 

The purpose of this activity is to help students learn to identify masterpieces and mass-produced items. Students will also explore how objects can be created out of physical materials.

Teacher Note: Before beginning this activity, ask students to bring in an object from home that they really like.

1. Explain the definitions of both a masterpiece and a mass-produced object, as you show an example of each.


1. An outstanding work of art or craft.

2. Something superlative of its kind.


To manufacture in large quantities, often by or as if by assembly-line techniques.

(The American Heritage Dictionary)

2. Show the class the photographs of the masterpiece and mass-produced objects. Ask the class to determine if each item is a masterpiece or a mass-produced item. Tape the images on the wall or blackboard in two separate areas (a masterpiece and mass-produced area).

3. Involve students in a discussion about what they think the word "valuable" means. Point to the photographs of masterpieces and mass-produced objects on the board and ask students if they think the item is valuable.

4. Call students' attention to the photographs and ask students to identify the physical materials that were used to create the object. Discuss how new objects can be made from other materials. Draw attention to the fact that somebody designed the original mass-produced objects, and that a factory then mass-produced the item. Ask students to find examples of objects around the classroom and discuss what materials they were made from. 

Steps for Learning
Trash or Treasure? 

The purpose of this activity is to provide students with an opportunity to analyze masterpieces and mass-produced items.

1. Have students select one of the images of a masterpiece that they particularly value. Ask students to share the objects that they brought from home and explain to the class why they value the masterpiece and the mass-produced object.

2. Provide time for students to ask questions regarding the object that each student brought in to share with the class.


Ask students to answer the following question:


What three things have you learned during this assignment?

Enrichment Extension Activities

"My Favorite Things" Book
1. Create a class "My Favorite Things" book.


2. Have each student create two pages for the book. A masterpiece and a mass-produced page.

Masterpiece page-Ask students to select their favorite masterpiece image and write a sentence or paragraph about why they like the object. Teacher Note: The length of your students' writing will depend on the grade level of your students.

Mass-produced page-Students may draw or find a picture of their image for the book. You may also choose to photograph the objects your students brought from home to include in the book. Have students write a sentence or paragraph about the mass-produced object.

3. You may choose to arrange the book so that when you read the book one way, all of the masterpiece objects are grouped together and when you turn the book over to read in the reversed direction, all of the mass-produced items are grouped together.

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