CyberMuse Teachers - Lesson Plans
Drawing With Light
Lesson Plan Activity:
Surprising Sun Prints: Grade K-3
After exploring the Drawing with Light site, students are asked to explore the properties of light. Using photosensitive paper and everyday objects, the students will learn the art of sun printing. While being introduced to composition and concepts of photography, they will produce striking sun prints.
The students will identify and recognize that shapes are elements of composition and that light plays an important role in photography.
The students will produce a sun print, using appropriate materials.
Using the appropriate vocabulary, students will explain how shapes (elements of composition) are used in the sun print project to communicate ideas.
Cross Curriculum Links:
This lesson also explores the following subject areas: science and technology, mathematics and English.
2 to 4 20-minute sessions
Look & Discuss
Present and discuss a selection of the 8 featured artworks in the Artwork & Artists slideshow with your class.
(Tabs will provide you with information on the theme, composition, interpretation and the artist.) A downloadable Presentation that you can add to or manipulate will also help share these images in your classroom.
With the help of reproductions of the photographs Yonge Street, Willlowdale by Robin Collyer, Doorway at Lacock Abbey: The Ladder by William Henry Fox Talbot, and Image of Times Square, New York by Abelardo Morell, and using teaching materials on geometric shapes (drawings, posters, foam and plastic shapes), initiate a discussion of shapes with your students. Ask them to identify the shapes in the photos (the rectangular shape of a building, the oval shape of a face, the circular shape of a clock, etc.) You can also photocopy your photos and ask the students to outline the different shapes in felt pen or pencil. Are there a variety of shapes? Are there small ones? Large ones? \Where are they located in the photograph?
- Sun print paper (photosensitive paper), available in some craft, photography and art supply stores, or construction paper in saturated colors (see the link "Preparation Tasks" ), an alternative that produces less striking results but is less expensive.
- 3 or 4 shallow basins of water
- Sheets of plexiglas or cardboard the right size to accommodate the sun print paper (an old cardboard box, for example)
- Paper towels
- A variety of everyday objects and old photographic negatives
- Teaching materials on geometric shapes (drawings, posters, foam and plastic shapes)
- A sunny day
- Construction paper can be used for this activity. The results will be less striking and you will achieve less variation in shades but you will still be able to explore shape and the role of light in photography. Since construction paper is generally made with dyes that are not permanent, it has a tendency to fade when exposed to a light source. You should therefore leave it enough time (a few days) near a light source, such as the windowsill of your classroom. It will of course be unnecessary to dip the prints in water (the image-fixing method for sun prints made with photosensitive paper) and the permanence of the prints will depend on the method used to store them.
- If you use photosensitive paper, it is preferable to do the activity on a sunny day, either out of doors or near the windows of your classroom, particularly if they allow a lot of light to enter.
- Please prepare the materials, basins of water and sun print paper ahead of time.
- If you are using the light from your classroom windows for this activity, it is advisable to do a few trials to find the proper exposure time.
The students are asked to create a composition, using everyday objects on photosensitive paper. First the students choose a variety of objects: small, large, flat, three-dimensional, etc. Next, encourage them to try different compositions by placing the objects in various ways on their desks or on a piece of paper similar in size to the photosensitive paper. Since the photosensitive paper is affected by light, it is important not to get it out until the last minute. It is not necessary to use a darkroom, however, or to turn out the lights in your classroom.
When the students have finalized their compositions, give out a sheet of sun print paper to each of them. It should be placed on a rigid surface such as a sheet of plexiglas or a piece of stiff cardboard. The students will redo their compositions on the sheet of photosensitive paper.
Now expose the sun print paper to the light. When exposed to light, the paper will change colour or fade (please refer to the instructions for the product you have purchased so you will be able to describe the colour). The exposure time will vary depending on the light source used. The direct sunlight in the schoolyard will give results in a few minutes, while the light from your classroom windows will affect the paper more slowly.
When the paper has been sufficiently exposed, remove the objects. If photosensitive paper was used, dip the paper in water to fix the image. Once the sun prints have dried, they will show the negative image of the objects that were placed on the surface of the photosensitive paper.
Finally, ask the students to comment on the process and the results they have obtained. Sun prints on photosensitive paper very much resemble 35-mm camera film or a sheet of photographic paper. The objects, depending on how opaque they are, have created a sort of masking that has prevented the light from affecting the paper under them?a basic principle of photography. Students who have used old negatives will see that the positive images of those negatives have appeared. Here are some questions to ask your group to conclude the activity. What shapes can they identify? Geometric? Other? How were the shapes arranged on the paper? Do they recognize all the objects they used? Why do they think some objects produced a clearer print? How do they explain the results when the objects used were three-dimensional, transparent, opaque, flat?
Take it Further
- Using the completed projects, design a mosaic of sun prints on one of your walls.
- Use objects related to a topic explored in a subject of study to design a poster (for example, use pebbles, twigs, old branches, autumn leaves to explore the topic of nature).
The student shows a limited knowledge of shapes by naming only a few of the shapes used.
The student shows a fair knowledge of shapes by naming several of the shapes used.
The student shows a thorough knowledge of shapes by naming most of the shapes used.
The student selects a few objects, and uses the materials and procedures in a rudimentary way (overexposed or underexposed prints).
The student selects a variety of objects, arranges them in an interesting way, and uses the materials and procedures appropriately.
The student carefully selects a variety of objects with a specific goal in mind, and uses the materials and procedures appropriately.
The student identifies some of the shapes used and expresses in a limited way his ideas, his intentions, the reasons behind his choice of objects, and the process of creation.
The student identifies clearly several of the shapes used and expresses clearly his ideas, his intentions, the reasons behind his choice of objects, and the process of creation.
The student identifies accurately most of the shapes used and explains in a fairly sophisticated way his ideas, his intentions, the reasons behind his choice of objects, and the process of creation.