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What are the Principles of Design? How do they work with the Elements of Art to create art? What is the purpose of an Art Critique?

Common Core Standards 2017-2018 Print Unit 2
Middle - Fine Arts - Grade 7 - Unit 2
Principles of Design
Students will learn about the Principles of Design, which can be described as an "instruction manual" for creating artwork. The Principles are balance, contrast, harmony/unity, rhythm, movement, proportion, pattern and variety. This is a shorter unit in comparison to the Elements of Art, consisting of one major project that ties in all of the content, plus pulling information and skills from the previous unit.
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Students create a booklet describing the Principles of Design to a kindergarten grade student. They must select a theme that will not only fit the content, but keep the attention of a younger student. They will have one week  to one and a half weeks to complete the project with a partner. I will be teaching them the basics of making a story line, while giving them examples and defintions of the Principles of Design.

At the end of the Unit, students will be given an artwork to critique. They will have four criteria they must discuss in their writing: descibing, analyzing, interpreting and judging, using the Elements of Art and Principles of Design as facts and their opinion as well. Once completed, they will trade critiques with another student for peer review and finally typing up the final draft. Students will have a choice between the artworks, The Son of Man by Rene Magritte or Vertumnus by Arcimboldi.

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Students will use appropriate terminology to describe and analyze the use of elements of art (line, shape, form, texture, color) and principles of design (emphasis, pattern, balance, contrast) in a variety of visual artworks

Students will use the elements of art, principles of design and a variety of processes in creating artworks

Students will apply organizational structures and describe what makes them effective or not effective in communicating ideas

Students will identify and analyze the use of elements of art (e.g., line, shape, form, texture, primary and secondary colors, color schemes/groups) and principles of design (e.g., focal point, pattern, balance, contrast) in a variety of two and three dimensional artworks

Students will identify a variety of subject matter in visual artworks (representational – e.g., landscape, portrait, still life, nonrepresentational – e.g., abstract, non-objective)

AH-7-PA-S-VA1 Students will be actively involved in selecting media, techniques, and processes for creating artworks applying the elements of art and principles of design

Students will use knowledge of the elements and principles of art and art terminology to:

  • create expressive artworks
  • describe and critique their own work and the work of others

Students will identify and apply criteria for evaluating visual arts (e.g., skill of artist, originality, emotional impact, variety, interest)

 AH-7-PA-S-VA4Students will demonstrate behavior appropriate for observing the particular context and style of the artwork being viewed; discuss opinions with peers in a supportive and constructive way

Students will describe personal responses to artwork; explain why there might be different responses to specific works of art (e.g., personal experience, interest, medium used, effectiveness of message)

Program of Studies: Understandings

Students will understand that the principles of design and the elements of visual art are intentionally applied in creating works of art.

Students will understand that there are three distinct processes for involvement in the arts; creating new artworks, performing works previously created, and responding to artworks and performances. 

Students will understand that full understanding and appreciation of the arts requires some degree of involvement in all three processes. 

Students will understand that openness, respect for work, and an understanding of how artists apply elements and principles of design in creating and performing are personal attitudes and skills that enhance enjoyment of the observer. 

Students will understand that existing and emerging technologies can extend the reach of the art form to new audiences. 

Academic Expectations:

2.23         Students analyze their own and others' artistic products and performances using accepted standards.
2.22         Students create works of art and make presentations to convey a point of view.
Related Core Content:

AH-07-4.4.1 Students will create art for specific purposes using the elements of art and principles of design to communicate ideas.


AH-07-4.4.2 Students will use a variety of art media, processes and subject matter to communicate ideas, feelings and experiences.

Print Version

I can explain how the Principles of Design and Elements of Art work together in a work of art.
I can design a children's book about the Principles of Design.
I can critique an artwork using both fact and opinion.

Print Version

Balance- artworks are equal on both sides by using art elements.

---Formal balance- sides mirror one another.

---Informal balance- sides are equal but different. Radial balance- created around a circle.

Movement- art elements create the illusion of movement or the elements guide the viewers eyes in a pre-planned direction.

Emphasis- art elements make important parts of the artwork stand out.

Proportion- the way small parts relate to the whole.

Pattern- repeating art elements used for decoration

Rhythm- repeating art elements used to create a visual "beat" or sense of motion

Variety- art elements used to show varying points of interest in the artwork

Unity/Harmony- art elements are working together to create a pleasing effect.

Contrast – when opposing elements work together in an art work. For example, black and white, complimentary colors, rough and smooth texture, etc.

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Educator Uploaded Plans (These are educators specific templates with included information and specifics)
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Tim Tebow reads Green Eggs and Ham -
Justin Beiber reads Cat in the Hat -
Just Go to Bed by Mercer Mayer -
Goodnight iPad by Ann Droyd - Mrs. Pardue's Personal Collection
Wynken, Blynken and Nod by Eugene Field -

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Students will be writing children's literature about the Principles of Design as if it were being read to a kindergarten student. They have to create engaging designs and easy to read text related to the content.

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Connect – Allow students to read and watch videos about children’s literature to see how they are written and illustrated.

Organize – Give students a storyboard organizer to outline their book, including what the pictures will look like and what it will say.

Deep-processing- I will pause throughout examples and allow students to think about their book, including time to plot out and discuss their book with their partner.

Exercise- Students will complete their booklet using the tools and examples I have given them.


Concept Attainment


Examples of both books that I expect to see from the students and those that are not appropriate for this assignment. I will demonstrate what I’m looking for and how to illustrate a children’s book correctly, using simple designs and simple text.




Students will sketch ideas and concepts they see from children’s literature that we experience in class. They can use these ideas in their books, i.e. rhyming schemes, character development, backgrounds, objects, etc.

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