Put Your Best Façade Forward-Lesson 1

By Marianne Aalbue, October 1, 2006

Grade Level

  • Elementary School


  • Architecture

Subject Area

  • Arts
  • Social Studies

Lesson Time

One or two forty-five minute class periods


In this lesson, students will be introduced to the applied arts and will focus on the applied art of architecture. They will learn how architecture communicates messages about the people in a community who use a building. Students will also hone observational skills as they study the façade of their school and then create an observation drawing.

National Standards


Students will be able to:
  • understand the definition of applied art
  • understand the differences and similarities between fine art and applied art
  • understand that architecture is one of the applied arts
  • create an observation drawing of the façade of their school


Man with a Knapsack  by Winslow Homer


  • vocabulary chart
  • visuals of Winslow Homer’s Man with a Knapsack
  • visuals of the façade of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum
  • 9” x 12” white sulfite drawing paper
  • drawing pencils
  • erasers
  • drawing boards for the students to work on outside
  • students’ art notebooks/journals


Fine art–artwork to be appreciated for its appearance and message Applied art–art that is concerned with the designing and creating of beautiful functional objects Design–to plan and make something in an artistic way
Architecture–the art of designing and constructing the built environment; this includes structures such as buildings and bridges
Architect–a person whose job it is to design, draw plans for and oversee the construction of buildings, bridges, etc. Facade–the front or face of a building who’s design sends a message about the inside of the building Observation Drawing–a drawing in which the artist draws what he or she sees, not a drawing in which an artist uses his or her imagination


Motivational Dialogue •I love coming to this school every day. I love the students at our school and I love the projects we do in art class, like printmaking and creating collages. (The teacher begins to create a “Things that I love about our school” semantic web on the board.) What are some of the things that you really like about our school (gym, class, lunch, etc.)? The teacher adds a couple of answers to the web on the board.  Please create your own “Things I like about our school” web in your art notebook.
•There are many different types of art, two of which are already in the web on the board.
Topic Question •How many others you can name (painting, sculpture, drawing, photography, etc.)? Create a list on the board as students name each type of art. •This is an example of one type of art you mentioned: A painting. •The name of the painting is Man with a Knapsack and it was painted by Winslow Homer. He was an American artist who was considered one of the most important artists of his time. Winslow Homer painted this painting in 1873 and it is now in the Cooper-Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum in New York City. •This is a picture of the museum. (Teacher displays a photograph of the museum.)
Association •Is the museum building an example of any type of art? (Students’ answers may vary.) •The types of art that are listed on the board are examples of fine art. Fine art is art that we appreciate for its appearance and its message. Now we are going to learn about another category of art called applied art. Applied art is art that is concerned with the design and creation of functional objects. Functional objects are things that we use. •The applied arts are: product design, graphic design, fashion design, architecture, etc. Create a list of the applied arts on the board. •Today we will concentrate on architecture. What is architecture? (Students’ answers will vary and will include examples of architecture.) Architecture is the art of designing and constructing our built environment, including structures such as buildings and bridges. A person who designs buildings and bridges is called an architect. Architects must design buildings that are functional, pleasing to look at, comfortable, and safe. •The front of a building is called the façade. The design of the façade is very important because when people look at a building the façade is the first part of the building they see. The façade can send a message about what happens inside a building and about the people in the community who use the building.
Transition •Today we will begin to study the façade of our school. You will start by creating an observation drawing of the façade. An observation drawing is a drawing of what an artist actually sees. You will not use your imagination for this type of drawing.
Take the students outside to create their observation drawings and distribute drawing boards, drawing paper, pencils, and erasers to the students once they are seated.
Visualization •Take a minute to study the façade of our school.
•What shapes do you see in the building? (The windows are rectangles.) •What about the building? (The building is a rectangle too.)
•What types of lines will you use in your drawing? (Straight lines.)
•Do you see any lines that are not straight? (Above the door and at the top of the building.) Transition
•As you are working on your observation drawings, remember that you are drawing what you see. Begin your drawings.
Have students share their drawings once they have finished them. Recap
•We began this lesson by talking about two categories of art. Turn to your neighbor and together decide on the answer to these questions.
  • What are the two categories of art? (Fine art and applied art.)
Teacher displays the picture of Winslow Homer’s painting and the picture of the Cooper-Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum.
  • Which one of these pictures is a picture of a piece of fine art? (The painting.)
  • What is the difference  between fine art and applied art? (Applied art is art that we use and fine art is art that we look at, we do not use it.)
  • What type of art is architecture? (Applied art.)


The students will have successfully learned the objectives of this lesson if they:
  • respond or agree that the two categories of art are fine art and applied art
  • identify or agree on the differences between each category
  • identify architecture as an applied art
  • are able to create an observation drawing of the façade of their school
Differentiation: Pictures added to the vocabulary list for English Language Learners, Learning Disabled, and Special Needs Students.

Enrichment Extension Activities

Students can create a relief sculpture of the school façade using subtractive and additive techniques.

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