Lesson Plan: An Ideal Childhood Day
William-Adolphe Bouguereau, France
Students will examine the artistic characteristics of Childhood Idyll; create a drawing of children during an ideal day from a student/child perspective and a drawing of children during an ideal day from an adult perspective; and explain how what is ideal can vary between individuals, time periods, and cultures/societies.
21st Century Learning Skills Addressed:
- Critical Thinking and Reasoning
- Information Literacy
2009 Colorado Academic Standards Primary Area Addressed:
- Analyze historical sources using tools of a historian
- Ask questions, share information, and discuss ideas about the past
- Understand people and their relationship with geography and their environment
- Become familiar with World geography
Additional 2009 Colorado Academic Standards Addressed:
- Oral Expression and Listening
- Reading for All Purposes
- Research and Reasoning
- Observe and Learn to Comprehend
- Envision and Critique to Reflect
Length of Lesson
Creating illustrations of children during an ideal day from both a student/child perspective and an adult perspective, and then examining how what is ideal can vary between individuals, time periods, and cultures/societies, increases students’ awareness of change over time.
Students will be able to:
- examine the artistic characteristics of Childhood Idyll;
- locate France on a map of the world and identify some defining features of the country;
- explain different nuances of the meaning of “ideal”;
- create a drawing of children during an ideal day from a student/child perspective and a drawing of children during an ideal day from an adult perspective; and
- explain how what is ideal can vary between individuals, time periods, and cultures/societies.
- Two pieces of drawing paper and art supplies (colored pencils, markers, etc.) for each student
- Map of the world, visible to all students in the classroom
- Internet access to look up information about France from sites like the World Factbook for France
- About the Art sheet on Childhood Idyll (found at the end of the lesson plan) or student access to this part of Creativity Resource online
- One color copy of the painting for every four students, or the ability to project the image onto a wall or screen
- Display Childhood Idyll and invite students to look carefully and share what they observe. What do they notice about the painting? What colors do they see? Who do the students think the girls in the painting might be? What are the girls doing? How are the girls acting? What makes the students think so? How would the students describe the girls’ clothing? What time period is portrayed in this painting and how can the students tell?
- Share with students that Childhood Idyll was created by William-Adolphe Bouguereau of France in 1900. Have students locate France on a world map. Share some quick facts about France (e.g., geography, climate, languages, natural resources, government, history) by distributing or displaying information from appropriate websites such as the World Factbook for France
- Ask the class: What does “ideal” mean? What parts of this painting look absolutely perfect? Do you think this is realistic or ideal? Direct students attention to the girls’ feet, bows, and flute.
- Have the students take another look at Childhood Idyll and discuss what the artist may have thought was ideal about the way he portrayed the girls in this painting. How is the artist’s conception of ideal childhood similar to and different from the students’ conception of ideal childhood? Talk with the class about how this painting represents an adult’s conception of an ideal childhood, which may or may not agree with students’ perspectives.
- Provide each student with two pieces of drawing paper and invite them to create two different drawings. One drawing should feature a scene of children during an ideal day from a student/child perspective, and the other should feature a scene of children during an ideal day from an adult perspective. To help students understand what an adult’s perspective might be like, encourage the students to think about what their parents would like to see them doing on an ideal day (e.g., washing the dishes, babysitting younger siblings). If time is a concern, you might want to have half the class create drawings from a child’s perspective and have the other half create drawings from an adult’s perspective.
- When the students have finished, display all the drawings from a student/child perspective in one part of the classroom and all the drawings from an adult perspective in a different part of the classroom.
- Have the students take a close look at each group of drawings. What general themes can they see in the drawings featuring a student/child perspective? What general themes can they see in the drawings featuring an adult perspective? How do these two sets of drawings compare and contrast with Childhood Idyll?
- Conclude the session with a discussion about how what seems to be ideal can vary between individuals, time periods, and cultures. Then encourage the students to give each other and themselves a round of applause for a job well done!