K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education


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Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • use line and color expressively to create movement in the sky.
  • use materials appropriately.
  • follow the lesson in sequence.
  • discuss personal choices and feelings about their artwork.
  • identify a characteristic of Van Gogh’s style.
  • cut two and four shapes at a time to repeat shapes in their landscapes.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

2 hours


  • black construction paper
  • oil pastels
  • colors of construction paper
  • scrap paper
  • glue
  • scissors
  • books, videos, prints or other art reproductions and information about Vincent Van Gogh

Technology resources

Technology needs may vary depending on what type of supporting materials you have.


Show the class a reproduction of the painting “Starry Night” and have them respond to what they see. Prompt them with open-ended questions about color, line, and what feelings they may get when they look at the scene. This is a time when I get feedback from the students that helps me understand how they are thinking. It may also affect how I teach the lesson. You may then wish to read an age appropriate book about Vincent Van Gogh.


The art activity will be done in the following steps. It will begin with a demonstration of the objectives for the day. I have had students work on the sky in one class period and the cut and paste landscape in another.

Demonstrate and discuss:

  1. The sky will be made using oil pastel on black paper. Draw a moon and shapes to represent stars. Draw lines to create concentric circles around the celestial shapes to make them look like they glow as Van Gogh did.
  2. Use different types of lines and repeat lines to show movement in the sky.
  3. Have students select color imaginatively and for their own emotional appeal.

The next part of the lesson will be a cut and paste landscape that is added to the sky.

Demonstrate and discuss:

  1. Tear paper that is the same width as the sky to make land with a mountainous horizon. I suggest to my students that they should try to tear a zig-zag, crooked, or curvy lines.
  2. Cut shapes two and four at a time to create objects for the landscape. They can make suggestions for what should be in the landscape and their shapes.
  3. I always dot glue around the edges of the shape so that the object can be moved around before being pressed in it’s final location. It also helps cut down on the amount of glue on top of the picture.
  4. Overlap shapes and repeat shapes.


As the students finish each section of the lesson you should be able to see, and they should verbalize the learning outcomes.

  • Look for and have students name the types of line used in creating their moving starry sky.
  • Students should be able to identify pictures that are landscapes from other types of artwork.
  • Assess whether students were able to control the materials.
  • Were they able to cut multiples by folding the paper?
  • See if students can identify Van Gogh paintings from works by other artists working in different styles.

Supplemental information

Reproductions of Van Gogh’s work can often be taken from post cards, books, and calendars. I have bought several large books at a discount through major booksellers. Poster-sized reproductions are available through art catalogs.

Two children’s books I have used in teaching are:

  • Vincent Van Gogh by Eileen Lucas
    Publisher: Carolrhoda Books; (April 1997)
    ISBN: 1575050382
  • Van Gogh by Mike Venezia
    Publisher: Children’s Press; (March 1989)
    ISBN: 051642274X


I have also taught the Starry Night lesson as a crayon resist which works well too.

  • North Carolina Essential Standards
    • Visual Arts Education (2010)
      • Grade 2

        • 2.V.1 Use the language of visual arts to communicate effectively. 2.V.1.1 Use appropriate art vocabulary when discussing media, processes, or images in art. 2.V.1.2 Create original art that expresses ideas about people, neighborhoods, or communities. 2.V.1.3...
        • 2.V.3 Create art using a variety of tools, media, and processes, safely and appropriately. 2.V.3.1 Use a variety of tools safely and appropriately to create art. 2.V.3.2 Recognize characteristics of a variety of media. 2.V.3.3 Use the processes of drawing,...

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Visual Arts Education (2001)

Grade 2

  • Goal 1: The learner will develop critical and creative thinking skills and perceptual awareness necessary for understanding and producing art.
    • Objective 1.01: Understand the process involved in using the media.
  • Goal 2: The learner will develop skills necessary for understanding and applying media, techniques, and processes.
    • Objective 2.02: Recognize specific media and processes
    • Objective 2.03: Express moods and feelings.
    • Objective 2.04: Produce visual effects and textures using each media.
  • Goal 3: The learner will organize the components of a work into a cohesive whole through knowledge of organizational principles of design and art elements.
    • Objective 3.01: Incorporate a variety of lines in own artwork.
  • Goal 5: The learner will understand the visual arts in relation to history and cultures.
    • Objective 5.03: Identify selected medium/techniques or processes used for an individual artwork.