Possible Classroom Concepts: Social Studies (State Waterways and Bridges), Language Arts – Literature, Storytelling, Science – Engineering (Bridges)
Possible Art Concepts: Art History – Faith Ringgold, Media – Quilts, Painting, Principles of Art – Proportion, Art Careers – Fine Artist, Commercial Artist, Illustrator, Point of View
Because I hail from Maryland, And because Maryland has a big ole bay nearly splitting it in two, And lots of rivers, creeks and streams peppering through it, And because there are two bridges connecting the eastern and western shores of Maryland. And because fourth grade always studies Maryland, A bridge project was always on my art teaching bucket list. Unfortunately, it never came to fruition. However, if a bridge lesson had come about, I would have gone straight to Faith Ringgold for inspiration.
You probably know Ringgold as the writer /illustrator of the book, Tar Beach, but those illustrations are actually her artwork. She is an artist who creates painted storytelling quilts. Quilts are a part of her African American Heritage and the stories come from her childhood memories . The George Washington Bridge and other bridges are frequently depicted in her storytelling quilts. “Sonny’s Quilt”, “Dancing on the George Washington Bridge”, and “Double Dutch on the Golden Gate Bridge: Woman on a Bridge #2″ are three bridge examples. What do these three works have in common? They all show people doing something on a bridge. In my virtual lesson, I would ask students what experiences they may have had on, under or around the Chesapeake Bay Bridge or other Maryland bridges. (Road over, ran/ walked over in a marathon, a boat ride under, fishing under, hung out at Sandy Point Beach nearby, flew over in an airplane). Do you have famous waterways and bridges in your state you could include in a social studies lesson? As an art teacher, this project would follow a lesson on creating a proportionate person using ovals. We would begin by reviewing drawing people, discuss the basic shapes involved in drawing a bridge, and then discuss point of view. Look here, here, here, and here to find Ringgold and other artists who made the Brooklyn bridge from different points of view. You can find some simplified bridge drawings in this post. Students would then illustrate their own real or imaginary bridge experience including the bridge and at least one proportionate person. I would have the students watercolor over the entire drawing in sky and water colors and then paint in the details with tempera paint. For classroom purposes, this may take too long. If so, simply have students color in with crayons, colored pencils or markers. If you wish to take this in a storytelling quilt direction, students could write their experience across the bottom or top of the drawing. Students could then glue squares of wallpaper or patterned scrapbooking paper around their drawing/painting to create a boarder. See my example below.
All the quilt blocks could be displayed together on a bulletin board or blank wall to create a class quilt.
A cool extension to this literature lesson would be to read Iggy Peck, Architect by Andrea Beaty with your students and see the cool suspension bridge he comes up with in a pinch. Also, see some extensions for this book here at Carrots are Orange.
All the bridge paintings highlighted in this post were suspension bridges. So, if you simply want to stick to science objectives, you could display them as examples of suspension bridges.
So, whether you’d like to investigate bridges through Language Arts, Social Studies, Science, or all of the above, enjoy. How do you teach bridges in your classroom. I’d love to hear. Simply click on the post’s title and scroll down to the comment section. If you like what you’ve seen here, please feel free to toss me a “like” or better still become a follower.
Thanks so much for reading. Hope you’ll stop by again real soon!