Teaching Artist > Lesson Plans

Title: Collage and Community Artist: Romare Bearden
Medium: Mixed Media Collage and Watercolor Paint School: Barry Elementary
Grade Level: 4th/5th

Reproductions: The Block, Summer and by Romare Bearden
Examples of music and poetry from the Harlem Renaissance
18x24” White paper
Paint chip color samples
Brushes (longer hairs to create watercolor washes)


Romare Bearden Harlem Renaissance Collage
Emphasis Composition Critique

Educational Strategies


Lesson 1: Students will begin the art lesson “unwrapping” and analyzing The Block, Summer and by Romare Bearden. They will answer the questions—What do you see? What is going on? How was this art work made? What materials did the artist use? When do you think it was made? What is the overall story that this work of art is telling us? Where doyou think the artist got the ideas for their work of art?

After the discussion, students will learn more about the history of Romare Bearden, the Harlem Renaissance, including the social climate that was inspiring to many emerging artists of the time. Students will be provided time at the end of class to sketch and write down examples of daily events or memories of time spent within the community with friends and family. They will focus on who is involved in the activity, what action or event was taking place and where.

Lesson 2: Looking in the information listed in their sketchbook from the previous class, students will choose one to be turned into a collage. White paper (18x24”) will be distributed to the class. Students will lightly sketch a composition for their collage onto the paper in pencil then begin to gather colored paper and images from newspapers and magazines to construct their collage. Any paper pieces that are not glued down are to be kept in the student’s art folder until the following class.

Lesson 3-4: Students will continue to assemble their collage. They are encouraged to not only look for specific imagery but for colors, shapes and objects that can be used to complete elements of their design in surprising ways.

Lesson 5: After all the main components of the collage has been completed (people in action and descriptive objects to inform the viewer of the location and event), students will use permanent marker and watercolor paints to fill in the background. Permanent markers have been instructed to be used to connect objects or finalize elements in the collage.

Lesson 6: Finished work will be hung up in the room for critique. Students will volunteer to share the story behind their collage and offer their opinions about how effective the artist was at sharing their idea through their work of art. Students will be reminded that critique is for constructive criticism and any negative or derogatory comments are strictly prohibited from the discussion.


Poems by Langston Hughes and will be placed on the overhead projector and written on the classroom dry erase board to exemplify other forms of artistic expression being produced during the Harlem Renaissance.
Art and music from the Harlem Renaissance will also be on display and played during work periods.
Students will be provided with watercolors and scrap papers to create their own colored paper for collage.

English as a Second Language
Students will be given plenty of opportunity to ask questions and will sit near students that can assist with more difficult translations if necessary.
Teacher will give both oral and visual instruction (demonstrations).
Development of ideas and listing of information for creating the collage can be written in Spanish in the students sketchbook.

Students with Disabilities
Written documentation of ideas and events can be drawn if the student has a problem with writing or expressing themselves in that manner. These students will share their ideas orally with Ms. Bespalec prior to beginning their collage.
Altering the shape of materials and looking for objects that can be used to represent various shapes will be reinforced.
Students that have difficulty using scissors will be offered assistance or modified tools.

Could the students evaluate Romare Bearden’s work by actively viewing and discussing the artwork?
Were the students able to develop a composition that filled the page and placed emphasis on the people and activity being shared?
Was the student able to use collage materials effectively to represent an activity that involves themselves or someone that they know?
Did the student constructive criticism and [positive reinforcement to discuss the art work made by other students?

Romare Bearden
The Art of Collage and Telling the Story