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Bas-Relief Book Report

Looking for a pizzazzy book report format? Try bas-relief sculpture to add a new dimension to your next presentation!

  • Grade 3
    Grade 4
    Grade 5
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. Discuss what bas-relief is with students. Explain that it is a French term meaning 3-dimensional modeling that is raised slightly above a flat background. This kind of sculpture is meant to be seen from only one direction, unlike most other sculpture, which is viewed from all sides. Have students look for bas-relief borders or friezes on building walls in your community. Now that they know what it is, they will find them in lots of places!
    2. Have students choose a book for their report. This example uses Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney. Miss Rumphius completed three important goals she set for herself when she was young. She traveled around the world, made the world more beautiful by planting lupines, and finally lived by the sea. Have students choose the most important parts of the book they read to illustrate.
    3. To make a bas relief sculpture, find a lid from a recycled box such as a shoebox. You could use a round lid for circular story events, as in Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, Doctor deSoto, or Waiting for Wings.
    4. Have students use Crayola® Erasable Colored Pencils to draw the background clouds and sky. If they change their mind, just erase and start again!
    5. The following are directions for the pictured book report. Smooth on a layer of blue Model Magic to create the sea. Mix blue and yellow Model Magic to create a bright green for the grass. Layer grass near the sea.
    6. Form a yellow road and a red cottage. Add details to the scene.
    7. Mix red and green to form brown for the cottage roof, tree trunks, and island. Add them to the scene.
    8. Mix varying colors of green for more visual interest. Experiment with yellow, blue, and white modeling compound to create tree tops, stems, leaves, palm trees, and mounds of grass. Apply them.
    9. To make lupines, roll tiny balls of blue Model Magic. Press masses of balls together above the green stems. Mix red and white modeling compound to create pink lupines and red, blue, and white to create lavender lupines.
    10. Add a red sailboat, yellow sail, and brown mast to the sea. Press gently into the scene.
    11. Blend thin ropes of blue and white Model Magic to create light blue ripples. Press lightly. Air-dry the book report.
    12. Students present their book report to small groups, so they can see the details in their bas relief.
  • Standards

    LA: Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.

    LA: Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

    LA: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

    LA: Report on a topic in an organized manner, using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace.

    LA: Add audio recordings and visual displays to presentations when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or themes.

    MATH: Fluently add and subtract multi-digit whole numbers using the standard algorithm.

    MATH: Solve multi-step word problems posed with whole numbers and having whole-number answers using any of the four operations.

    MATH: Convert among different-sized standard measurement units within a given measurement system and use these conversions in solving multi-step, real world problems.

    SS: Describe ways in which language, stories, folktales, music, and artistic creations serve as expressions of culture and influence behavior of people living in particular culture.

    VA: Use different media, techniques, and processes to communicate ideas, experiences, and stories.

    VA: Describe how different expressive features and organizational principles cause different responses.

    VA: Select and use subject matter, symbols, and ideas to communicate meaning.

  • Adaptations

    Students create a collection of math story problems based on the books they read. Students write the problems on one side of a 3 x 5 index card and draw a scene from the book on the opposite side of the card. Create an assortment of problems dealing with time, measurement, fractions, and money, as well as any of the four algorithms. Store cards in a classroom box labeled with the name of the book. Students work on problems as directed by the classroom teacher. Students include a solution sheet inside the box.

    In small groups, students plant a variety of seeds, including lupines. Record the growth of the flowers in a journal. Students include sketches of the stages of growth, created using Crayola Colored Pencils. Additional notes can be added by students as needed. Students report on their growing exercise to their classmates.Journals can be displayed in teh classroom along with the blooming flowers. A digital photo of each set of blooms is encouraged.

    Older students can present the art of bas-relief to youner students and assist them with creating a bas-relief scene from younger student book reads. Prior to organizing a time for this activity, older students should compose a set of possible questions anticipated and appropriate responses. While with younger students, older students can listen to and/or audio-record younger students reading parts of their books, or assist with the oral reading, if necessary.

    One of the most famous relief sculptures in the United States is Mount Rushmore. Students investigate the creation of this monument, the artists that work on it, a timeline, and who was included and why. Students may present this reseach to classmates in an electronic format with audio-recordings.


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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