In your child’s classroom

Learning artistic techniques

Your third grader has developed the perceptual skills to create more detailed works of art. This year, you can expect her to begin to learn the different techniques artists use to make a two-dimensional painting look three-dimensional. She’ll look at artwork to learn how a painter makes an object look round, deep or far away. She’ll learn how foreground, middle ground and background are used to create the illusion of space. And she’ll explore how painters use light to convey mood and emotion. Third graders typically expand their knowledge of the subjects for art – portrait, still life, seascape, landscape – and create examples.

Learning to work with a group as well as independently

Third graders are social and eager to please but also able to work independently. The teacher may assign a group project, such as making a mural or quilt, to strengthen artistic skills, fine-motor development and social relationships.

Identifying works of art

Your third grader will learn to identify objects of art from different parts of the world or compare works of art that express similar ideas but were created at different times. Nancy Roucher, arts education consultant, says: “It’s important for students to explore universal themes and ideas that transcend time. Studying art offers one of the few opportunities to discuss these ‘big ideas.’ Your child will also discover that art made in different cultures often has a functional purpose or conveys a certain message that is integral to the people and their society. He’ll use this knowledge, along with increasing vocabulary and understanding of composition, to more fully describe works of art and artifacts.”

Many states base their arts standards on the National Standards for Arts Education which include standards for visual arts, dance, theater and music.

What to look for when you visit

  • Examples of student work requiring fine- motor skills, such as origami, weaving or jewelry-making
  • Jewelry, masks, ceramics or other artwork from cultures or historical periods the class is studying
  • Examples of well-known public works of art, such as the Statue of Liberty or the carvings of the presidents on Mount Rushmore
  • Examples of student work that show art woven through the curriculum, such as drawings inspired by books students have read or stories they’ve written
  • Art reproductions