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My Hands Are My Heart When… Lesson Plan

Author: Paul Heath

Year: 2015

Artform: Visual Art

Subjects: Language Arts

Grade: 4th

Duration: Two 45 minute classes

Overview: Students will create Valentine themed pictures incorporating paintings of their hands along with reflective writing to produce a one page creative/collage journal.

Standards and Objectives

Explore and Contextualize using new media and materials.
Conduct short writing projects that build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic. (Writing Standard #7)

(Synthesis of Knowledge from Bloom’s Taxonomy, working toward Level Four DOK through the act of Creating.)
  • To introduce students to the concepts of composition and patterns in art.
  • To give students the opportunity to practice their design skills.
  • To give students the opportunity to reflect and practice their writing skills.
  • To create a seasonal connection.



Day One, First 5 Minutes: Show students the video clip from “The Hobbit” where Gandalf talks of everyday acts of kindness. Explain that this is an art project to celebrate Valentine’s Day, but also to focus on reflective writing and qualities of character.


Show examples of a finished product and the Google Doc presentation. Demonstrate how the hands are traced on the drawing paper and details are added with both watercolor paints and markers. Show how the masking tape is applied to the background in lengths to accommodate the text to be written in later. Demonstrate how the watercolor washes are applied over the masking tape and how to carefully remove the masking tape from the watercolor paper during the second class. Show examples and demonstrate the patterns that the specialty scissors can create.


Two 45 minute studio sessions.

Day One: students create a pencil drawing of the back of their hands with the fingers spread slightly apart, by tracing around the outside. Students notice and draw specific details (knuckles, veins, etc.) which make their hands unique to them. Each student outlines with a black sharpie and paints their skin color using watercolors. Also on Day One, students will start to paint their watercolor paper background by first applying masking tape strips, and then washing over the masking tape with bright colors. Oil pastels can also be used and painted over to create more patterns.

Day Two: Students are asked to think about their everyday acts of kindness that their hands provide. Examples could be taking out the garbage, helping with dinner, writing a thank you note or drawing a picture for a loved one. Their job today is to reflect and write down their thoughts on either the white, bright color, or patterned scrapbook paper provided. Students will cut out their watercolor hands and paste them creating a heart shape between the index fingers and the thumbs. Students must also use their design skills to create a pleasing and readable composition. Students have the remainder of the class time to create their “My Hands are my Heart When…” collage.


Closing Routine, Clean-Up, Sharing and Informal Assessment

5-10 Minutes

Students write short, reflective phrases and sentences, describing the multiple ways they demonstrate their love for their family or others in everyday acts of kindness.
  • What is do you do in your everyday life to demonstrate your love, caring and concern for family, friends, and others?
  • What design skills make for a pleasing composition?
  • What are the some of the blended historical origins of Valentine’s Day?
  • Students draw and paint their own hands and create their own collages.
  • Students write from their own experiences within their day-to-day lives.
  • Students create their own compositions, designs and patterns.
  • Compassion
  • Everyday
  • Acts of Kindness
  • Reflection

Art Terms:
  • Composition
  • Illustration
History and background of St. Valentine’s Day can be introduced.

Robert Sabuda illustrated children’s book: St. Valentine can be used as a resource.
Compositions shared and vocabulary reviewed along with the writing exercise.


  • 11” x 15” Watercolor Paper
  • 11” x 15” Drawing Paper
  • Watercolors
  • Masking Tape
  • Elmer’s Glue or glue sticks
  • Black Sharpie, Color Markers
  • Oil Pastels
  • Specialty Scissors
  • Assorted Stationary Papers for Collage
  • Slideshow