Lesson Plan

War Numbers

Graphic depicting the number 1846
Using art to approach the Mexican War in a different light.
Palo Alto Battlefield (public domain)

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Subject:
Art, History, Social Studies
Duration:
This lesson will take 30-45 minutes to complete.
Group Size:
Up to 24 (4-8 breakout groups)
Setting:
classroom
National/State Standards:
National Standards:
Gr 5-12 Social Studies
World History Eras 4 & 7 Gr K-12
NL-ENG K-12.1, 4
Gr K-4 Fine Arts: Visual Arts 4
Gr 5-8 Fine Arts: Visual Arts 4
Keywords:
social studies, history, Mexican War, art

Overview

In "War Numbers" students learn how artists use positive and negative space to highlight parts of a drawing. Students will use this technique to create a timeline of significant events of the U.S.-Mexican War. 

Objective(s)

Guiding Questions
  • What were the major events that lead to the Battle of Palo Alto?
  • What were the major events in the U.S.-Mexican War?
Critical Content
Events in the U.S.-Mexican War

Student Objectives
Students will:
  • Study a timeline of major events in the U.S.-Mexican War
  • Create artistic representations of the timeline dates
  • Create a U.S.-Mexican War timeline for their classroom


Background

Before starting, review and print out the six PDF files in the Materials section. This lesson can be modified for High School students.

Materials

Six worksheets are included with this lesson plan.
  1. Lines
  2. War Numbers
  3. War Numbers Sample
  4. Palo Alto sample
  5. U.S.-Mexican War Timeline
  6. My U.S.-Mexican War Timeline  


Procedure

  • Tell students that today they will learn about the events that caused the Battle of Palo Alto, the first battle of the U.S.-Mexican War. Tell them they will also learn how artists use positive and negative space, lines, and patterns to highlight parts of a drawing.
  • Give students the worksheet "Lines." Have students practice drawing each type of line.
  • Give students the worksheet "1846." Tell students this is the year that the Battle of Palo Alto, the first battle in the U.S.-Mexican War, was fought.
  • Show students the PDF "1846 Example." Tell them to only draw and color the area outside of the numbers. The space inside the numbers is called "positive space" and the space outside the numbers is called "negative space." Positive space is used by artists to make certain elements in a drawing stand out. Lines, patterns, and colors added to the negative space also help the positive space to stand out.
  • Tell students to repeat some of the lines to create patterns. Color in the patterns.
  • Tell students they will study a timeline to learn about significant events in the U.S.-Mexican War. Afterwards, they will draw the numbers representing an event associated with the U.S.-Mexican War. For example, if they are assigned the Battle of Palo Alto which was fought on May 8, 1846, they would draw the numbers 581846. Show students the PDF "Palo Alto Example." Point out that the day and month is on top and the year is on the bottom.
  • Hand out the worksheet "Timeline of the U.S.-Mexican War." Assign each student or group of students a date.
  • Hand out the worksheet "My U.S.-Mexican War Timeline." Tell them to draw the numbers bubble style with the day and month on top and the year on the bottom. Tell them to draw lines and patterns in the negative space and to color in the negative space.
  • When students are finished with the timeline, have them post their dates in the classroom in chronological order.
  • Assessment

    Assess student performance in one key area:  Drawing OR Chronological Order

    Above Proficient
    Drawing:  Drawing contains all elements outlined in Step #2.
    Chronological Order:  Timeline date is in chronological order.

    Proficient
    Drawing:  Drawing contains most of the elements outlined in Step #2.
    Chronological Order:  Timeline date is in chronological order.

    Below Proficient
    Drawing:  Drawing contains none of the elements outlined in Step #2.
    Chronological Order:  Timeline date is not in chronological order.


    Extensions

    1. Have students research the event they were assigned.
    2. Write an essay on how the U.S.-Mexican War would have been different if this event had not occurred.