Lesson Plan: Our Place in the World
Student Learning Objectives
  1. Students will learn to differentiate spatial locations, define rooms in a home, and identify differences among a city, state, and country.
  2. Students will consider the size and arrangements of shapes that can be used to represent parts of a room.
  3. Students will identify, examine, and understand the relationships of objects in their classroom and create a collage that explores shape, size, and composition.
English Language Arts

 CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.1.7 Use illustrations and details in a story to describe its characters, setting, or events.

ESL: Standard 5: English language learners communicate information, ideas, and concepts necessary for academic success in the content area of Social Studies.

Social Studies

1.G.1: Use geographic representations, terms, and technologies to process information from a spatial perspective. 

Visual Arts

1.CX.1.5: Understand that art is a reflection of the artist’s ideas, environment, and/or resources. 

Written by Jessica LeCrone, ESL Educator, and Kristin Smith, NCMA Educator
Essential Question: What are some ways parts make up a whole?
Abstract: Students will see that many parts make up a whole by discussing and defining city, state, and country and by examining the different objects that make up their classroom.
  1. Read the book From Here to There, by Margery Cuyler, to the students. While reading, have students identify in the story parts of a room, street, town, country, continent, hemisphere, planet, solar system, galaxy, and, finally, the universe.
  2. After reading, ask students to answer questions based on reading in a discussion format: Do you have a favorite room where you live? What city do you live in? Which is bigger: a state or a country? What state do we live in? What country are you from? Write answers on the board.
  3. Direct students to look at Bireline’s Matisse Window. Make a list of everything they see, focusing on different shapes. Ask what room students think this window might be in and what other objects might be in or around the room and/or outside the window.
  4. Ask students to examine their classroom and make a list of all the objects they see, both big and small.
  5. Instruct students to work in small groups to create a cut-paper collage of a section of the classroom. Have students focus on the relationship of the size of objects and where they are placed on the paper. Instruct students to use simple shapes, similar in style to Bireline’s.
  6. When work is completed, hang student work together. Discuss how all of the objects make up a room in one collage and how many collages make up a classroom mural.
  • Group discussion can be used to assess for shape vocabulary and understanding of parts to a whole.
  • Assess completed collage for understanding of size and spatial relationships of objects as well as communicating with a group.

living room
front hall
“paint with scissors” technique


construction paper, scissors, glue, From Here to There, by Margery Cuyler



Many of the abstract expressionist paintings George Bireline made during the 1950s and early 1960s, however abstract, include the suggestion of a window. Bireline, on the faculty of North Carolina State University at the time, recognized the window image as a means of making a visual commentary on spatial relationships. A serious student of art history, he took as his starting point the traditional idea that a painting is a window into a fictional space. His next step was to paint a picture of a window itself. Matisse Window gives off a brilliant glow but exudes an appealing calm. Simply structured, the composition establishes a sense of space.

The title pays tribute to Bireline's source of inspiration: Henri Matisse's early-twentieth-century views of Nice, France, many of which incorporate window imagery.

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