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Keith Haring Causes Unit for Elementary

I created a fourth grade unit featuring Keith Haring and how to use art to bring awareness to different causes.

** Be sure to watch all videos or media before you show it to classes, as it is often not appropriate for elementary grades.

This unit took three different class periods.

Day 1: I had students fill out a pre assessment asking, What is a Cause? What Causes are you familiar with? Who is Keith Haring? What is Keith Haring’s style?

We then jumped right into it and I began teaching them about who Keith Haring is as an artist. Students became familiar with the phrase “Artist’s Style,” and they understood that not all art should look a certain way, that artists tend to develop their own style. This was a very successful lesson, as the students had just finished up a lesson on still life.

Day 2: Students spent time brainstorming causes. We wrote down as many examples of causes as we could on the board. Students worked in groups to come up with more examples. We watched a video on Keith Haring that showed him working on various projects, including his work for the Children’s Hospital.

We focused a lot of Keith Haring’s subway art. We talked about how he would create art using chalk on a black surface because it was simple and it would not take a long time to do. I decided to create their final artwork in a similar style for two reasons:

  1. Students really enjoyed drawing Keith Haring style cartoons using chalk, just like he did.
  2. The school did not have the funds to buy enough drawing paper and materials so this was a great way to save, by using very simple materials and still getting a great end result!

Day 3: The final day, students were asked to get in groups and select one cause. I let them work, we talked about making it big and using up the entire space since it would be public and we wanted people to see it from everywhere! At the end, students did a critique where we went around to each one and the students explained what their cause was and why they drew what they drew. Students ended with a post assessment asking them similar questions that were asked in the pre assessment.

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