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The Arts Lesson Addressing Benchmark 26.B.ECa

tree artwork


Snow had fallen on the playground and the children in Ms. Jones’s and Ms. Hernández’s classroom ran to the window to see the snow falling on the trees. The children were excitedly talking about how the snow on the branches covered the tress. When the sun came out, the children were excited to see the glittery, sparkly branches. Ms. Jones and Ms. Hernández reflected upon this excitement when they were planning and decided to set up the art center so the children could make representations of the wintery trees.

About the Classroom

Ms. Jones and her teaching assistant (TA), Ms. Hernández, are responsible for developing learning activities that meet the needs of diverse learners and address the Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards (IELDS). Ms. Jones knows most children in her class will meet the standards and benchmarks. However, she will have to make adaptations for those children who need more individualized instruction.

Ms. Jones is the state-licensed head teacher in a monolingual classroom of 15 children with diverse ages (3–5 years old) and learning needs. There are 10 typically developing children with age-appropriate skills and behaviors in the class. These children act as peer models for the remaining children in the class.

Three children, Raúl, Luis, and Esther, are dual language learners whose home language is Spanish. They started school with little understanding of English. Ms. Jones’ TA, Ms. Hernández, is bilingual and uses both Spanish and English in the classroom. Two children, Joey and Hailey, have special needs requiring an individual education program (IEP). Joey has significant speech delays and is learning to use an adaptive and augmentative communication (AAC) device. Hailey has cerebral palsy (CP) resulting in significant motor delays, especially on the left side of her body. She uses a walker and wheelchair for mobility. On occasion, some children exhibit challenging behavior during small group lessons. Ms. Jones would like to implement strategies to address challenging behavior in the classroom.

Ms. Jones’ district uses a state-approved developmentally appropriate curriculum. Ms. Jones and Ms. Hernández perform universal screenings three times per school year (fall, winter, spring) for preschool children.

This lesson addresses a primary benchmark. A secondary benchmark is included to offer ideas for addressing an additional benchmark within one lesson. Teachers are encouraged to be creative in thinking of ways to address multiple benchmarks within one lesson.

Lesson Activity


  • Construction paper for background
  • Strips of construction paper for branches
  • Glue sticks
  • Glue bottles
  • Glitter shakers
  • Chalk
  • White crayons

Primary Benchmark

The Arts
Describe or respond to their creative work or the creative work of others.

Ms. Hernández and Ms. Jones have set out the materials listed above on the table for the children to use in their creation of winter tree pictures. The materials are set out in small baskets so the children can find what they need independently. Ms. Hernandez engages the children in conversation about their pictures and the similarities that they have to the outdoors as they create them.

Secondary Benchmark

Social/emotional Development
Begin to share materials and experiences and take turns.

Ms. Jones and Ms. Hernández have noticed that the children have had difficulty sharing materials, so they want to set up the art activity to encourage sharing. They decide to limit the number of glue bottles, glue sticks, and glitter shakers on the table. This will encourage the children to ask each other for what they need, and it will also give the teachers an opportunity to support the children by using polite words about sharing. The children also will get a chance to learn how to regulate their emotions and cope with their frustrations about waiting their turn.

Primary Benchmark

The Arts
Describe or respond to their creative work or the creative work of others.

When the children finish their artwork, Ms. Jones says, “Tell me about your picture.” She writes down the words the children dictate about their winter trees on index cards. They display these cards next to the children’s artwork on the wall.

Monitoring Progress

The teachers use the children’s winter tree artwork and their comments about the artwork to assess their use of art materials and language to express ideas. They also take anecdotal notes about how the children are sharing the materials at the table.

Ideas to Extend Children’s Learning

Some of the children express interest in drawing other items they have seen outdoors to be covered with “snow,” or glitter. The teachers allow the children to make drawings of houses, cars, and other things they have seen. The children then use glue and glitter to make them sparkle with snow.

The reminder cue cards used in this lesson plan to help children share come from the Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning Solution Kit (PDF). More classroom resources to support children’s socioemotional development can be found on the center’s teacher resources page.

Individual Adaptations for Children in Your Classroom

This lesson was written in the context of Ms. Jones’s and Ms. Hernández’s classroom. We now offer some general suggestions of adaptations you can use in your classroom.

Child characteristics

Some of the younger children in the classroom have trouble asking for turns with the glue or glitter.

Teacher action

The teachers provide prompts to the younger children when they try to grab the glue or glitter.

Teacher: If you would like a turn, say “Glue, please!”

Child: Glitter, please!

Teacher: Miranda knows you need the glitter because you used your words.

Child characteristics

Three children are dual language learners whose heritage language is Spanish.

Teacher action

Teacher speaks to the children in English and Spanish. She encourages the children to describe their artwork using adjectives from both languages.

Child characteristics

Child has cerebral palsy (CP) resulting in significant motor delays, especially on the left side of her body. She uses a wheelchair for mobility.

Teacher action

The teachers have set up the activity at a table where the child is able sit in her wheelchair to be at the proper height. They are encouraging her to use both hands to press down the paper strips into the glue and squeeze the glue bottles. Because the child has some difficulty gripping the smaller glitter shakers, the teachers have adapted a measuring cup that has a handle to be used as a glitter shaker.

Adapted glitter shaker

Child characteristics

Child has significant speech delays and is learning to use an adaptive and augmentative communication (AAC) device.

Teacher action

The teachers encourage child’s use of his AAC with the phrases glue, glitter, help me, and thank you.

AAC device with suggested phrases

Low-tech option: Teacher creates a paper chart with pictures that Joey can point to in order to communicate his needs.

Child characteristics

A few of the children are grabbing the glue or glitter shakers away from other children.

Teacher action

The teachers tape reminder cue cards on the table to use in prompting the children.

Teacher: (Points to picture) Ask for a turn, Diego, you can ask Sam for a turn with the glitter.

About this resource

Setting(s) for which the article is intended:
  • Preschool Program

Intended audience(s):
  • Teachers / Service providers
  • Faculty / Trainer

Age Levels (the age of the children to whom the article applies):
Related Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards:
Reviewed: 2013