Teach Through Books: Masterpieces Up Close

Teach Through Books: Masterpieces Up Close

Age level: Early Elementary, Upper Elementary

Description: This fantastic book by Claire d’Harcourt about famous pieces of art opens up possibilities for conversation and exploration. When I first looked at it, I thought it was a seek-and-masterpiecesupclosefind activity, but it offers much more than that. It poses several questions and focuses in on particular aspects of each painting. After exploring four paintings, the book provides insights into some of the questions posed in previous pages.

Skills & Modifications: This book is packed with high-interest skill-building activities for elementary students. It’s also easy to modify based on each individual learner’s skill level, so you can use it with group activities but target specific questions to individuals in a way that is engaging for all participants.

  • Scanning – Each page does require that students scan a painting in order to find one aspect that is being discussed. This is a higher-order scanning skill. For some learners, you may need to cover part of the painting to reduce the field of information they are scanning.
  • Art – I love that this book provides interesting opportunities to study and discuss art, even if you learners don’t have access to a museum locally. This may also be a useful book to read prior to attending a museum or art exhibit in order to practice looking at and discussing artwork.
  • Expressive Language/Intraverbal Skills – Each page poses questions about the art presented on that apge. It requires students to express observations and opinions, as well asphoto 1 (7) respond to the observations and opinions of others sharing the book with them. For some learners, you may need to modify the activity by providing sentence starters they can use to respond to questions. Because each page asks different types of questions, it may be necessary to pick 1-5 pages to discuss for one activity, then create sentence starters that apply to the specific questions asked on those pages.
  • Critical Thinking – Many of the questions require the students to think critically about multiple pieces of information, such as what materials an artist may have had available during the time he/she was painting. Learners must be able to consider multiple pieces of information simultaneously in order to take part in conversation.
  • Identifying Emotions/Perspective Taking – There are a few opportunities presented within the book to identify how a subject within a painting may be feeling. The learner must be able to consider both the subject’s facial expression and the other contents of the painting in order to respond appropriately. Some learners may benefit from having an adult or moderator write down notes about observations to be referred to during these types of discussions.
  • Wh Questions – This book provides a wonderful opportunity for students to be presented with novel Wh questions in an interesting context.

Pros: Several of my students are highly motivated by art. This book provides a highly-motivating avenue for addressing skills that my students struggle with. I also love that the end of the book has a lift-flap portion that discusses the lives of each artist. The book is also big enough that the pictures are large and can be explored simultaneously be small groups of learners.

Cons: The only con is that I can’t seem to find any new versions! I checked this out from the library and found several used copies on different websites.

You should invest in this book if: you have a student who is highly motivated by art, you are seeking age appropriate activities to encourage conversation, or you are a parent seeking materials that siblings of different ages can enjoy together.

ABLLS: G8, G39, G40, H28, H29, H30, H31, H32, H33, H47, H49

VB-MAPP: Intraverbal 15, Tact 12, Tact 13, Tact 14

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