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The Great Gate of Kiev collagraphs.

Music and visual art are natural subjects when planning integrative lessons. The following also connects to architecture, portraiture, language arts and math, and was taught prior to a field trip to a Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra performance of Modest Mussorgsky's composition, The Great Gate of Kiev, as part of the local A.C.E. (Arts in Community Education) music program.

WE BEGAN THE LESSON by listening to The Great Gate of Kiev, followed by a class discussion. Questions included: Have you heard this music before? If so, where? What does it sound like? What instruments do you hear?

We then studied an image of Victor Hartmann's The Great Gate of Kiev, as I shared with students how Hartmann designed it for the Russian Czar Alexander II, even winning a competition, but it was never built. After reviewing the "Architectural Details" handout, students did a quick think-pair-share of the architectural details they see in common and circled and shared their findings.

We then gathered for a demonstration. I introduced the word "collagraph" (glue-drawing), followed by a demo of the process of constructing a collagraph printing plate. Using cardboard, tagboard, paper, scissors and glue, students began building up their collagraph printing plates, which had to include a door or gate that would later reveal an important people or pets. Their designs could be symmetrical or asymmetrical, and comprise no more than four levels of glued materials. Soon the classroom was a flurry of cutting and glueing!

THE SECOND CLASS, I reviewed the process of creating collagraph printing plates, with a goal for students to finish them that day. While they worked, I played the Mussorgky piece again, and displayed the image of Hartmann's The Great Gate of Kiev. If students finished early, they could draw pictures of family, friends or pets as a warm-up exercise for a future step in the process.

EXCITEMENT WAS HIGH the next class period because it was printing day! With white colored penciles, the children wrote their names on the back of 12" x 18" black construction paper. Then, using gold printing ink they made their print. I monitored the process to facilitate successful printing, reviewing directions, providing feedback and adding gold ink as necessary at the designated printing stations.

We began the fourth class by studying reproductions of portraits and discussing such things as the age of the person in each portrait, are there any pets, type of clothing, is the setting inside or outside, what time of year, is there more than one person, is the person holding an object?

After our discussion, students added details to their prints, which gave them more dimension, interest and richness. As each child finished, I cut the gate/doorway on his or her print with an X-ACTO knife. The children then cut the building shape out with scissors. Their black-and-gold architecture prints were then glued to 12" x 18" white paper. The drawing of more details followed, such as the sky and ground with colored pencils and fine-point black permanent markers. Then in the final step, each student incorporated his or her important person/people or pet inside the gate/doorway.

DURING THE FINAL CLASS, the students thoroughly completed the studio activity. Those who finished early embellished their collagraph printing plates, adding color with construction-paper crayons, transforming their "tool" into a visual piece itself. Narratives were then written about the important people seen behind the gates/doors, which would be placed alongside the visual pieces when displayed.

Creating these prints prior to the field trip to the symphony made for a richer experience, as the children experienced the live performance of Mussorgky's The Great Gate of Kiev.


Lower-elementary students will ...

* design and construct a collagraph printing plate incorporating architectural details.

* demonstrate craftsmanship, understanding and skill.

* add details to their prints, and to the surrounding backgrounds.

* draw portraits of people/pets who are important in their lives.


This lesson provides opportunities for integration with the following subjects.

* Music: listen to and learn about Mussorgsky's The Great Gate of Kiev.

* Social studies/art appreciation: understand the context and subject matter of portraitures throughout history.

* Math: reinforce the concepts of symmetrical and asymmetrical as a design element for their doorway/gateway architecture.

* Language arts: include a written narrative about the student's featured person/people.


* CREATING: Conceiving and developing new artistic ideas and work.

* RESPONDING: Understanding and evaluating how the arts convey meaning.

* CONNECTING: Relating artistic ideas and work with personal meaning and external context.

* PRESENTING: Interpreting and sharing artistic work.


* Pencils, construction-paper crayons, colored pencils, fine-tip black markers

* Tagboard and corrugated scraps

* Cardboard

* 6" x 9" tagboard (for printing plate)

* All-purpose white glue

* Gold printing ink

* 12" x 18" white paper

* 12" x 18" black construction paper

* X-ACTO knife (teacher use only), scissors

STEP 1: Build a collagraph printing plate.

STEP 2: Make print on black paper with gold printing ink.

STEP 3: Embellish and cut out architectural print.

STEP 4: Glue onto embellished background and include important person/pet behind door/gate.

Angela Hayes teaches art at Atwater Elementary School in Shorewood, Wisconsin.
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Author:Hayes, Angela
Publication:Arts & Activities
Date:Nov 1, 2015
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