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Carry on the Storytelling Tradition

Link the visual and language arts! After drawing memories in the style of folk artist Clementine Hunter, classmates tell and record each other's stories.

  • Grade 2
    Grade 3
    Grade 4
    Grade 5
  • 60 to 90 Minutes
  • Directions

    1. Clementine Hunter was born on a Louisiana plantation near Natchitoches in either December 1886 or January 1887. When she was in her 50s, she began to paint life on a Southern plantation. Her work is called Naïve or Folk Art because it is a good example of how ordinary people would paint.
    2. Clementine Hunter was Creole. Her heritage included French, Native American, African, Austrian, and Irish roots. She spoke a Creole dialect, which is similar to French, until her second husband taught her English.
    3. Hunter painted the life she knew and told stories about her art when she was asked. She was illiterate, and unable to sign her paintings until she began to imitate the initials of the plantation owner, Cammy Henry. Hunter thought this might be confusing, so she reversed the direction of the C and later combined it with the H, making her signature unique.
    4. Have students compare the Folk Art of Clementine Hunter to the Primitive works of Grandma Moses. How are their paintings alike? How are they different?
    5. To create a Naïve drawing in the manner of Clementine Hunter, students choose a favorite memory. Ask students what event in their life stands out? Use Crayola® Washable Markers to draw what you remember. Include important details, such as the place, people, and actions.
    6. Students share their drawings with a classmate. Use the oral tradition of storytelling, which illiterate people used to pass down stories in the past. Students tell the story of their picture to their classmate/partner. Then listen to their friend's story. With Crayola® Colored Pencils, write each other's stories.
  • Standards

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

    LA: Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases in a text relevant to a grade level topic or subject area.

    LA: Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.

    LA: Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, using formal English when appropriate to the situation.

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

    SS: Compare ways in which people from different cultures think about and deal with their physical environment and social conditions.

    SS: Use appropriate resources, data sources, and geographic tools to generate, manipulate, and interpret information.

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

    VA: Use visual structures of art to communicate ideas.

    VA: Identify specific works of art as belonging to particular cultures, times, and places.

  • Adaptations

    After identifying states that were considered the "deep South", students research plantation life in the United States prior to the American Civil War (pre-1860). Write a summary of research and illustrate plantation life in the deep South, using Crayola Tempera Paint. Take digital photographs of the completed artwork and upload it to a designated classroom computer. Students audiotape their summaries and attach this file to their digital photographs.

    Clementine Hunter enjoyed the work she performed, including picking cotton, gathering pecans, and doing laundry. Encourage students to paint a tasks that they enjoy, using Hunter's "Naïve" style. Share artwork with small groups of classmates using the oral tradition of storytelling.

    Invite a professional storyteller to meet with the class and share the history of storytelling. Students compose questions for the expert prior to the visit and post to a class blog about the experience at the conclusion of the meeting.


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