CyberMuse Teachers - Lesson Plans
Photographic Links

Lesson Plan Activity:
How do you Feel?: Grade K-3

Summary

Description:

Through photography, the students will explore emotions and moods and become aware that a photograph expresses ideas and feelings and generates certain emotions in the person looking at it. An introduction to the expressive character of photography?

Theory:

The students will recognize that there are different ways of representing emotions and that photography can communicate feelings and ideas.

Creation:

The students will produce photographs reflecting various emotions.

Analysis:

Using a vocabulary appropriate to photography, the students will demonstrate that photography can communicate emotions and ideas, basing their interpretations on the visual elements of a photograph.

Cross Curriculum Links:

This lesson also explores the following subject areas: English and dramatic expression.

Duration:

Three 20-minute sessions

Look & Discuss

Dorothea Lange?s photograph Migrant Mother will serve as a point of departure for this activity. Encourage your students to interpret this photograph. Who are the people in the photograph? How are they dressed? What story can we invent about this photo? Encourage your students to express their comments and observations about the concrete visual components of the photo and thus lead them to notice the way the people in the photo are posed, in what direction the mother is looking, the clothing, the wrinkles on the mother?s face, etc. Only the mother?s face and expression are visible. Is it possible to tell how the children are feeling without seeing their faces?

Use school photographs and photos taken from magazines to help the students observe similarities and differences (colour, pose, facial expression). A school photograph generally shows a child staring at the camera, smiling and dressed in his best clothes. How do you feel when you look at a school photo? How do you feel when you look at the photograph by Dorothea Lange? What emotion can be seen on the mother?s face? What emotion can be seen on the face of the student in the school photo? After your discussion, the class will begin a photography activity on the topic of emotions.

Materials

    • Various magazines
    • Some examples of school photographs (portraits, group photos)
    • Camera (Polaroid, digital or 35 mm)
    • Film for the camera if necessary
    • Photography paper and printer if you use a digital camera
    • Pencils
    • Sheets of paper
    • Mirrors

Preparation Tasks

  • Collect the materials.
  • Collect a variety of old and contemporary portraits, documentary photos, etc., to be used by the students as examples and for comparison purposes.
  • Arrange a corner of your classroom as a photography studio and decide whether you want a neutral or a coloured background.

Create

Create Activity Image 1

Express your feelings! Ask the students to use their bodies and facial expressions to illustrate various emotions and moods (anger, sadness, joy, a good mood, etc.). For older groups, more complex emotions can be used (boredom, moodiness, doubt etc.) Use mirrors so that your young actors can see their various facial expressions themselves. You will also be able to call their attention to facial wrinkles. (For example: one child may have dimples when he smiles; when we are angry, we usually wrinkle our forehead?) After experimenting with moods and the expression of feelings as a group, assign each child a specific emotion that he is supposed to simulate in front of the camera.

Create Activity Image 2

Hold the pose! Ask each student to pose for the camera, simulating the assigned emotion. For the younger groups, you will take the photographs. Older groups can take turns as the photographer. Remind your students regularly to pay particular attention to the pose (position of the body). The goal of this session is not to produce another version of the school photograph but to leave room for expression by using varied poses. How would you position your body? Will your hands be in the photo? Will you look directly at the camera? During the photography session ask the students to sketch on a sheet of paper a portrait or a self-portrait that expresses the emotion they were assigned.

Create Activity Image 3

Comment and Compare Encourage the students to comment on the results obtained and compare them. Are certain moods easier to express? Can they make up stories based on the photographs they took? Photography is a means of expression and can be used to express moods and feelings.

Create Activity Image 4

How do you feel today? After the activity, display the photos on a bulletin board or large sheets of cardboard and write under each of them the feeling expressed in it. You can also display the drawings your students made in step 2. You will be able to use this immense display to discuss your students? feelings and day-to-day moods.

Take it Further

Here are some variations on the activity which can be done with older groups who can benefit from the challenge:

  • During the photography session, play around with the lighting to create effects and accentuate certain emotions. For example, lighting a face from below generally makes a frightening impression and could be used to express anger. A little challenge: is it possible to create a happy photograph using lighting from below, under the model?s chin? Try out the experiment.
  • Introduce concepts of composition and framing in photography. Using a viewfinder (a small cardboard frame or slide mount), half the class can frame the gestures and expressions of the students who are miming emotions. What will be included in the photo frame?
  • Make the activity more complicated by adding the element of colour. Take expressions like seeing the world through rose-coloured glasses, looking white as a sheet, being green with envy, feeling blue etc. as points of departure for the photographs.
  • This activity is also an ideal opportunity to introduce documentary photography, the photographer?s choices and the concepts of true and false. Remind them that they were pretending during the photo session. They invented a situation. Will this subject of discussion cause them to question their way of looking at the photographic images that surround us? Do those photographs always represent reality?

Assessment Guide

1 2 3

Theory Criterion
Does the student recognize different ways of representing emotions and does he understand that photography can communicate feelings and ideas?

The student identifies few emotions in the photographs studied in class.

The student identifies emotions in the photographs studied and recognizes, by giving examples, that a photograph can transmit a message.

The student identifies many emotions in the photographs studied and recognizes, by comparing and by giving examples, that a photograph can transmit a message.

Creation Criterion
How did the student produce the desired emotion in his drawing and photograph?

During the photography session, the student experimented relatively little with ways of representing an emotion.

During the photography session, the student experimented with several ways of representing an emotion.

During the photography session, the student experimented with ways of representing an emotion which were subtle and varied.

Analysis Criterion
How does the student show that photography can communicate emotions and ideas? Does the student base his interpretations on the visual elements of a photograph?

The student identifies his own emotions but doesn?t relate them to the visual elements of the photograph.

The student frequently bases his observations on the visual elements of the photograph.

The student consistently bases his observations on the visual elements of the photograph.