Middle School Art Curriculum


Middle School Art Curriculum

 Revised July 2010

Compiled by Kelly Flynn

Kathy Shea

Julie Tomcheski 

In the West Haven School System, the Middle School Art Curriculum is designed as a “sampler” series of learning experiences that encompass the Connecticut Art Standards and correlate to the developmental stages of the students. The “sampler” experience starts with elementary skills and builds in difficulty and expectations as the art experience progresses from 6th to 7th to 8th grade.

Visual Arts Education in the Middle School is a spatial art form that satisfies the human need to respond to life experiences through images, structures and tactile works. Knowledge of the Connecticut Arts Curriculum Framework for the Visual Arts Standards incorporates carefully developed and integrated components:

  • application of problem solving skills.
  • comprehension and application of the creative process
  • development and practice of creative thinking skills
  • development of verbal and non-verbal communication skills
  • application of technical skills in practical production
  • practice in the understanding of basic symbol systems and abstract concepts.

6th, 7th, 8th Grade Art

        Duration:  One (1) School Year, skills build per grade level



  • Eye - Brain - Hand Coordination
  • Perception
  • Color Theory/Painting
  • Elements of Art/ Principals of Design
  • Drawing/ Creative Problem Solving
  • Sculpting/Hand building
  • Mixed Media/Crafts
  • Art History
  • Computer/Digital Art



  • Observational Drawing
  • Water Coloring Painting
  • Abstract Painting
  • Color Scheme Tempera Painting
  • Ceramic Sculpture
  • Calligraphy
  • Print making
  • Self Portraits
  • Mixed Media Work
  • Graphic Design
  • Perspective
  • Art History
  • Cultural Symbols
  • Lettering
  • Paper Mache Sculpture


West Haven Middle School Art Curriculum Sampler


Title of Program: Middle School Art Sampler


Description of Course: Middle School Students will understand and apply the Elements of Art and Principals of Design through a variety of media and techniques. Students will build upon prior knowledge with an emphasis placed on understanding and appreciating the influence of art through history, cultures, modern consumer products and daily life.


State Content Standards:

Students will:


  • understand, select and apply media, techniques and processes. (Media)
  • understand and apply elements and organizational principals of art. (Elements and Principals)
  • consider, select and apply a range of subject matter, symbols and ideas. (Content)
  • Students will understand the visual arts in relation to history and cultures. (History and Cultures)
  • reflect upon, describe, analyze, interpret and evaluate their own and other’s work.
  • (Analysis, Interpretation and Evaluation)
  • Students will make connections between the visual arts, other disciplines and daily  life. (Connections)

Essential Questions:


  • How do visual artists use media to convey ideas?
  • How do visual artists organize art elements to convey ideas?
  • How do visual artists select and present subject matter, symbols and ideas? 
  • What are the similarities and differences of visual art among cultures and across time?
  • How do people respond to art?
  • How is art related to other disciplines and daily life?

Student Learning Outcomes:

 The student will be able to:

  •  create art using six different art media: Design/Composition, Drawing, Painting/Printmaking, Sculpture/Hand building, Crafts/Mixed Media, Digital/Computer Art.
  • identify and utilize the Elements of Art: Line, Shape (including, but not limited to: circle, square, rectangle, oval, triangle, all polygons), Color (including, but not limited to: primary, secondary, warm, cool, complementary, opposite, tertiary, tints, shades), Value, Form (including, but not limited to: sphere, cube, pyramid, cone, cylinder), Texture, Space (concepts of perspective: 1, 2 and 3 point, using basic drafting tools (Including, but not limited to T-square, triangle, drafting board and ruler) and Principals of Design (Unity, Rhythm, Pattern, Movement, Emphasis, Contrast, Balance)
  • identify symbolic meanings found in historic/modern and personal artwork.
  • identify artwork from three different cultures and at least three different artists.
  • reflect upon, identify, describe, analyze, interpret and evaluate their own and other’s work.
  • explain choices made regarding media, technique, form, themes and subject matter that communicate the artist’s philosophy within a work of art.
  • describe styles of works in the arts comparing similar and contrasting characteristics.
  • investigate and communicate multiple philosophical views about works of art.
  • understand that people create art to express thoughts, feelings and ideas; to make money; to make their environment pleasing; to record history; to tell a story and make the connection that math, writing, reading and problem solving are connected to the visual arts.

Middle School Art Course Outline/Syllabus:

I. Media

          a. Design/Composition

          b. Painting/Print making        

          c. Drawing

          d. Sculpture/Hand building

          e. Crafts/Mixed Media

          f. Digital/Computer Art

II. Elements of Art

          a. line

          b. shape

          c. color

          d. value

          e. form

          f. texture

          g. space

III. Principals of Design

          a. unity

          b. rhythm

          c. pattern

          d. movement

          e. emphasis

          f. contrast

          g. balance

IV.  Symbolism

V.  Art History

          a. artists

          b. cultures

VI.  Assessing Art

          a. reflect

          b. describe

          c. analyze

          d. interpret

          e. evaluate

VII. Purpose of Art

          a. connect art and daily life

          b. connect art and other disciplines


These goals are on a continuum basis. Since students come from various schools, there is no need to review basic skills. A foundation is presented in Grade 6 and reinforced and expanded upon in grades 7 and 8. Since there is more fine motor control with age, projects are more complex and elaborate with additional tools and techniques.


Connecticut Art Standards


Visual Arts


1. Media:       

             Students will understand, select and apply media, techniques and processes.


1.1 select media, techniques and processes to communicate ideas, reflect on their choices and analyze what makes them effective


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 (two-dimensional and three-dimensional, including media/technology)


1.3 use different media, techniques and processes (two-dimensional and three-dimensional, including media/technology) to communicate ideas, feelings, experiences and stories.



2. Elements and Principals:     

             Students will understand and apply elements and organizational principals of art.


2.1 use ways of arranging visual characteristics and reflect upon what makes them effective in conveying ideas


2.2 recognize and reflect on the effects of arranging visual characteristics in their own and other’s work


2.3 select and use the elements of art and principals of design to improve communication of their idea



3. Content:     

             Students will consider, select and apply a range of subject matter, symbols and ideas.


3.1 consider, select from and apply a variety of sources for art content in order to communicate intended meaning


3.2 consider and compare the sources for subject matter, symbols and ideas in their own and other’s work



4. History and Cultures:      

             Students will understand the visual arts in relation to history and cultures.


4.1 know and compare the characteristics and purposes of works of art representing various cultures, historic periods and artists


4.2 describe and place a variety of specific significant art objects by artist, style and historical and cultural context


4.3 analyze, describe and demonstrate how factors of time and place (such as climate, natural resources, ideas and technology) influence visual characteristics that give meaning and value to a work of art


5. Analysis, Interpretation and Evaluation:       

             Students will reflect upon, describe, analyze, interpret and evaluate their own and other’s work.


5.1 compare and contrast purposes for creating works of art


5.2 describe and analyze visual characteristics of works of art using visual art terminology


5.3 compare a variety of individual responses to, and interpretations of, their own works of art and those from various eras and cultures


5.4 describe their own responses to, and interpretations of, specific works


5.5 reflect on and evaluate the quality and effectiveness of their own and others’ work using specific criteria (e.g., technique, formal and expressive qualities, content)


5.6 describe/analyze their own artistic growth over time in relation to specific criteria




6. Connections:       

             Students will make connections between the visual arts, other disciplines and daily life.


6.1 compare the characteristics of works in the visual arts and other art forms that share similar subject matter, themes, purposes, historic periods or cultural context


6.2 describe ways in which the principles and subject matter of the visual arts and other disciplines taught in school are inter-related


6.3 combine the visual arts with another art form to create coherent multimedia work


6.4 apply visual arts knowledge and skills to solve problems common in daily life


6.5 identify various careers that are available to artists



West Haven Middle School Art Bibliography



Key Materials: This is a compilation of personal resources used by the Middle School Art Educators in their program.



  • 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
  • Sunburst Visual Media, Teacher’s Video Co:  The Wonders of Watercolor (2001)
  • Chapman: Art, Images and Ideas (1996)
  • Teacher’s Video Co.:  Warhol / Dali / Chuck Close / Picasso / O’Keefe / M.C. Escher
  • Teacher’s Video Co.: Perspective Drawing (2001)



  • 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



  • www.apple.com   (Software Tutorials)
  • www.howdesign.com
  • www.layersmagazine.com
  • www.printmag.com
  • www.photoshopelementsuser.com
  • www.photoshopuser.com (National Organization Of Photoshop Professionals)
  • www.justcreativedesign.com   (The work of Jacob Cass)
  • www.areaofdesign.com  (Overviews of icons of American Design)
  • www.miltonglaser.com  (The work of Milton Glaser)


  • Scholastic Art Magazines


  • 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 Tessellation 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
  • Gerald Brommer, The Art of Collage
  • Gerald Brommer, Elements of Design
  • Damion Scott, How to Draw HipHop
  • Amelia Ruscoe,  Classroom Art: Drawing/Painting
  • Joe Rhatigan, Paper Fantastic
  • Mary Ellis, Ceramics for Kids
  • MaryAnn Kohl, Discovering Great Artists
  • Stephen Bridges, The Best Colored Pencil
  • Cathy Topal, Children, Clay and Sculpture
  • Joyce Raimondo, Picture This: Impressionism
  • Johannes Hen, The Art of Color
  • JoMiles Schuman,  Art from Many Hands
  • Kenneth Leslie, Oil Pastel: Materials and Techniques for Today’s Artist
  • Jorge Enisco, Design Motifs of Ancient MexicoFrederic Taubes, Anatomy for Artists
  • Gerald Brommer, Principles of Design
  • Elizabeth Aubert, Drawing the Line:A Portrait of Keith Haring
  • Gail Price, Tempera
  • Mila Boutan, Matisse
  • Joyce Raimondo, Express Yourself!
  • Helen Hume,  A Survival Kit for Secondary Teachers
  • Laura Chapman,  Adventures in Art
  • Gene Mittler Phd, Understanding Art
  • Jennifer Thomas, Masterpiece of the Month


Ten Lessons Arts Teach


by Elliot Eisner


1.     The arts teach children to make good judgments about qualitative relationships. Unlike much of the curriculum in which correct answers and rules prevail in the arts, it is judgment rather than rules that prevail.


2.    The arts teach children that problems can have more than one solution and that questions can have more than one answer.


3.     The arts celebrate multiple perspectives. One of their large lessons is that there are many ways to see and interpret the world.


4.     The arts teach children that in complex forms of problem solving purposes are seldom fixed but change with circumstances and opportunity. Learning in the arts requires the ability and the willingness to surrender to the unanticipated possibilities of the work as it unfolds.


5.     The arts make vivid the fact that neither words in their literal form nor number exhaust what we can know. The limits of out language do not define the limits of our cognition.


6.     The arts teach students that small differences can have large effects. The arts traffic subtleties.


7.     The arts teach students to think through and within a material. All art forms employ some means through which images become real.


8.     The arts help children learn to say what cannot be said. When children are invited to disclose what a work of art helps them feel, they must reach into their poetic capacities to find the words that will do the job.


9.   The arts enable us to have experience we can have from no other source and through such experience to discover the range and variety of what we are capable of feeling.


10.   The arts’ position in the school curriculum symbolizes to the young what adults believe is important.