Shirley Huller White

Grade 3: Art Education

All lessons presented here implement project and inquiry based learning strategies, and meet or exceed Massachusetts Arts Curriculum Framework standards.

Artwork presented here may NOT be reproduced in any way.

Art Lesson/Unit: Grade Level 3

Expressive Trees

Enduring Understandings:

  • Artists often sketch and draw trees from close observation: looking at and studying an object carefully and closely.
  • Artist can use a sketch that is created outdoors as reference for a final piece of artwork completed in their studio.
  • Artist can use a variety of lines and colors to create and express moods in their artwork.

Essential Questions:

  • How might you sketch and draw trees from close observation?
  • How can you use your sketch as reference for your final piece of artwork?
  • How might you use a variety of lines and colors to create and express moods in your artwork?

Exemplars and Inspirations:

This lesson is inspired by trees in nature and the art of Mizue Sawano and Piet Mondrian.

Materials and Techniques:

  • Pencil, watercolor paint and a variety of brushes and tools for washes and textures
  • Sketchbooks or sketch paper
  • Watercolor paper or heavy-weight paper
  • Observational and imaginative drawing techniques
  • Watercolor painting techniques

Language Arts Connections:

Make language arts connections to grade 3 vocabulary and the use of expressive and moody words. Students complete a display label listing moody words that describe characteristics of their tree.


Sketches for this lesson were created outdoors. Quality photographic reproductions can be used if real trees are not accessible, and plan a field trip if possible.