Design Composition Grades 6,7, 8

West Haven Public Schools

Unit Planning Organizer

Revised July 2010

Subject: Visual Arts                                                   

Grade: 6, 7, 8

Unit: Design & Composition                                    

Pacing: 1-4 weeks (depends on scheduling) 

Essential Question(s):

  1. Why are the elements of art and principles of design so important to the design process? 
  2. How does design effect everyday life?
  3. Why do artists use a variety of different styles in design?

Big Idea(s):

  1. Design influences every aspect of life: we all are consumers of art through design.
  2. The elements of design determine everyday aesthetically pleasing experiences.
  3. Design is basic – creative – historic – contemporary – a career.

CT State Standards (includes West Haven’s “Priority” GLES’s in BOLD and “Supporting” Standards)

Content Standard 1: Media

  • 1.2  improve the communication of their own ideas by effectively using the characteristics of a variety of traditional and contemporary art media, techniques and processes (2-D, 3-D, including media/technology)
  • Core Team Standard: Students will learn to communicate and reflect ideas through art terminology, processes and production.

Content Standard 2: Elements and Principles

  • 2.3 select and use the elements of art and principles of design to improve communication of their ideas
  • Core Team Standard: Students will select different media to reflect art experienced in daily life, making it relevant to daily experiences.

Content Standard 3: Content

  • 3.1 consider, select from and apply a variety of sources for art content in order to communicate intended meaning
  • Core Team Standard: Students will arrange visual characteristics in an organized composition utilizing the Elements of Art and Principles of Design.

Content Standard 4: History and Culture

  • 4.1  know and compare the characteristics and purposes of works of art representing various cultures, historical periods and artists
  • Core Team Standards: Students will compare and contrast classic Art pieces in relationship to specific design concepts.

Content Standard 5: Analysis, Interpretation and Evaluation

  • 5.1  compare and contrast purposes for creating works of art
  • 5.4  describe their own responses to, and interpretations of, specific works of art
  • Core Team Standard: Students will analyze their work in relation to historic examples and contemporary art.

Content Standard 6: Connections

  • 6.4  apply visual arts knowledge and skills to solve problems common in daily life
  • 6.2  describe ways in which the principles and subject matter of the visual arts and other disciplines taught in school are inter-related
  • 6.5  identify various careers that are available to artists
  • Core Team Standards: Students will recognize the role of Design in everyday life in how it influences what, why, when, where, how we purchase thru consumer art.

“Unwrapped” Concepts and Skills, and Bloom Levels (BL)

Concepts(Need to Know) 

Skills(Able to Do) 



Standard 1:

ideas, media, techniques and processes,




Standard 2: 

elements, principles,



Standard 3: 




Standard 4: 

works of art

various cultures, historical periods and arts



Standard 5: 


responses to and interpretations of



Standard 6: 

knowledge and skills,

interrelated disciplines




Standard 1:

communicate (ideas, media, techniques and processes)

improve (communication)


Standard 2: 

select (elements, principles)

improve (communication)


Standard 3: 

Consider, select, apply (content)

communicate (meaning)


Standard 4:

know (works of art)

compare (various cultures, historical periods and arts)


Standard 5:

compare, contrast (purposes)

describe (responses to and interpretations of)


Standard 6: 

apply (knowledge and skills)

describe (interrelated disciplines)

identify (careers)

























Instructional Planning

Suggested Resources/Materials:


  • Adobe CS3 for Mac (InDesign, PhotoShop, Illustrator)
  • Photoshop Elements 6 for Windows and Mac – Nick Vandome, 2008, Computer Step
  • Adobe InDesign CS4 one-on-one  - Deke McClelland, 2009, Deke Press


  •   (Software Tutorials)
  • (National Organization Of Photoshop Professionals)
  •   (The work of Jacob Cass)
  •  (Overviews of icons of American Design)
  •  (The work of Milton Glaser)


  • The Secret Life of Logos – Leslie Cabarga, 2007, HOW Design Books
  • The Big Book of Logos – David E. Carter, Editor, 2006, Collins Design
  • The Non-Designer’s Type Book – Robin Williams, 2008, Peachpit Press
  • The Mac is Not a Typewriter – Robin Williams, 2007, Peachpit Press
  • Logo, Font and Lettering Bible – Leslie Cabarga, 2004, HOW Design Books
  • New Master’s of Poster Design: Poster Design for the Next Century – John Foster,  2006, Rockport Publishers
  • Modern Dog: 20 Years of Poster Art – Michael Strassberger, 2008, Chronicle Books
  • The Non-Designer’s Design Book – Robin Williams, 2008, Peachpit Press
  • Graphic Design, The New Basics – Lupton and Phillips,  2009, Princeton Architectural Press
  • Janice VanCleave: Geometry for Every Kid
  • Janice VanCleave: Math for Every Kid
  • Robertson: Stop Faking It
  • Christopher Hart: Carooning for the  Beginners
  • Claudia Zaslausky: Math Games & Activities from Around the World
  • Istvan Banyai: Zoom
  • Paul Ross Wallach: Drafting
  • Crystal Productions: Bridging The Curriculum Through Art, Interdisciplinary Connections
  • Curtis Tappenden, Luke Jefford, Stella Farris: Graphic Design
  • Jill Britton: Symmetry & Tessellations
  • Dale Seymour & Jill Britton: Introduction to Tessellations
  • Jim McNeill & Pam Stephens: Tessellations: The History & Making of Symmetrical Designs
  • Mike Artell: Cartooning for Kids
  • Mike Artell: Funny Cartooning for Kids
  • Noel Ford, Pete Dredge, Steve Chadburn: Draw Cartoons
  • Doug Marlette: In Your Face
  • Jill Britton & Walter Britton: Teaching Telssellation Art
  • Phil Metzger: Perspective Without Pain
  • David R Morin: Perspective Made Easy
  • Jil Fine: Art, American Pop Culture
  • Greg Tang: Math-terpieces, The Art of Problem Solving
  • Christine Fleming: Art as Science
  • Heather Miller: The 10 Most Provocative 20th Century Artworks


  • Take 5 - Crystal Productions : Digital Art Media
  • M.C. Escher: Metamorphose
  • M.C. Escher Company: Escher Collection
  • Crystal Productions: Jim McNeill, Tessellations
  • Crystal Productions: Careers in Art
  • Crystal Productions: Know the Artist, Set 6 and 7
  • Crystal Productions: Printmaking
  • Crystal Productions: Perspective
  • Crystal Productions: Elements of Art
  • Crystal Productions: Principals of Design
  • Carolina Mathematics: Why Study Geometry
  • Carolina Mathematics: Why Study Algebra
  • McDonald Publishing: Math & Art


  • Fly By Night: Doodle! #10 Careers in Art
  • Fly By Night: Doodle! #8 Perspective
  • Fly By Night: Doodle! #2 Cartooning and Characatures
  • Fly By Night: Doodle! #6 Comic Book Art
  • Fly By Night: Doodle! # 7 Light and Shadow
  • Crystal Productions: Tessellations, Jim McNeill
  • Kultur: Artists of the 20th Century, Andy Warhol
  • Crystal Productions: Dropping in on Andy Warhol
  • Disney: Cars
  • Crystal Video: Drawing for All, Volume 3 Perspective & Landscape
  • Learn & Earn Video: Graphic Design 1
  • Learn & Earn Video: Graphic Design 2
  • Crystal Productions: Careers in Art: Graphic Design
  • Crystal Productions: Optical Illusions, How to Create Them
  • Crystal Productions: Basic Perspective Drawing
  • Learning Zone Express: 6 Tips for Graphic Design
  • Double Diamond Corporation: Perspective Drawing: Getting the Basics
  • Mike Artell: Basic Cartooning

Suggested Research-based Effective Instructional Strategies:

All recognized strategies are included, individual teachers can choose which they feel are appropriate:

  • Identify similarities and differences
  • Summarizing and note taking (sketches)
  • Reinforcing effort and providing recognition
  • Homework (Sketchbook) and practice
  • Nonlinguistic representations
  • Cooperative learning
  • Setting objectives and providing feedback
  • Generating and testing hypotheses
  • Cues, questions and advanced organizers (portfolios)


Vocabulary/Word Wall


Interdisciplinary Connections

Elements of Art

(Line, Shape, Color, Value, Form, Texture, Space)

Principals of Design

(Balance, Contrast, Emphasis, Movement, Pattern, Rhythm, Unity)

Color Theory


Still Life

Focal Point











Center of Interest

Vanishing Point













Oral Reports

Additional arts criteria specific to the project

Written assignment/project



Math, History, English, Writing, Science Strands