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What's Left Behind

Imagine having to move to a new ‘home’ taking with you only possessions you could carry. What would you take? Leave behind? In this lesson, students discuss these choices and reflect upon the leftover scenes from such a relinquished world.

  • Grades 7 and 8
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. During a study of the World War II era, initiate a conversation with students focused on European families required to leave their homes due to forced relocation. How might families prepare for such a move? What did they take with them? What did they leave behind?
    2. Introduce the class to an art piece by Claes Oldenburg and Frank Stella entitled Houseball. This commissioned artwork was donated to the Foundation for Art and Preservation in Embassies in 2001 and is today installed in Berlin, Germany. It is said that this is a symbol of displaced populations and the ordeal of refugees. Provide class time for students to explore the evolution of this piece of artwork, as well as the FAPE organization. Once research is complete, encourage a discussion of the significance of this artwork, as well as its placement in Berlin, Germany and the World War II era.
    3. When the discussion is exhausted, encourage the class to visualize what apartments, homes, villages were like once families were removed. Using Crayola© Erasable Colored Pencils and white construction paper, ask students to sketch the scenes they have visualized.
    4. With sketches complete, invite the class to create 3-D models of their scenes. Provide a variety of Crayola products such as Model Magic®, Construction Paper Crayons, Ultra-Clean Markers, Tempera Paint, Washable No-Run Glue and paintbrushes. Remind individuals using Model Magic that when it is fresh from the pack will stick to itself. Dried pieces can be glued together. White Model Magic can also be colorized by mixing a washable marker with the Model Magic. A variety of other ‘everyday’ materials may also be offered for the 3-D artwork. When complete, allow at least 24 hours for art to dry.
    5. Ask students to compose written pieces to accompany their artwork. These may take the form of descriptive paragraphs or poems that share the meaning of the personal art pieces as well as students’ emotional reactions to their study of this time period. Post artwork and written pieces in a prominent place for schoolmates to view.
  • Standards

    LA: By the end of the year, read and comprehend literary nonfiction at the high end of the grade level text complexity band independently and proficiently.

    LA: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

    LA: Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, using search terms effectively; assess the credibility and accuracy of each source; and quote or paraphrase the data and conclusions of others while avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation.

    LA: Use knowledge of language and its conventions when writing, speaking, reading, or listening.

    LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade level topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

    MATH: Solving real-world and mathematical problems involving volume of cylinders, cones and spheres.

    SS: Explore and describe similarities and differences in the ways groups, societies, and cultures address similar human needs and concerns.

    SS: Give examples of and explain group and institutional influences such as religious beliefs, laws, and peer pressure, on people, events, and elements of culture.

    SS: Give examples of how government does or does not provide for the needs and wants of people, establish order and security, and manage conflict.

    VA: Demonstrate willingness to experiment, innovate, and take risks to pursue ideas, forms, and meanings that emerge in the process of art-making or designing.

    VA: Select, organize, and design images and words to make visually clear and compelling presentations.

    VA: Analyze why and how an exhibition or collection may influence ideas, beliefs, and experiences. VA: Analyze why and how an exhibition or collection may influence ideas, beliefs, and experiences. VA: Analyze why and how an exhibition or collection may influence ideas, beliefs, and experiences.

  • Adaptations

    Encourage a deeper look into the organization known as FAPE, or The Foundation for Art and Preservation in Embassies. What is the mission of this organization? How are decisions made regarding artwork for embassies? Select a particular country of interest and determine the type of artwork you feel should be installed in an American embassy housed in that country. Be prepared to defend choices.

    Investigate other works of art by Claes Oldenburg and Frank Stella. What characteristics of each artist overlap? What is different about their respective work? Compare and contrast the accomplishments of the two artists.

    Examine artwork installed by FAPE in a country other than Germany. Research the artist and his or her process in creating the embassy artwork.

    Explore artwork that is currently housed in a foreign embassy located in the United States. How does this artwork reflect the embassy’s home country? Did American culture have any influence on artwork installed in this foreign embassy? If so, how?


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