By Mary Erickson, Ph.D., with Arizona art teacher Susanna Yazzie and fifth-grade teacher Alena Almendarez.
Adaptation is a three-lesson unit plan designed in conjunction with the Page to Screen exhibition at the Gallery at Tempe Center for the Arts. Lesson Three, "From Words to Image", is appropriate for upper elementary or middle school. Lesson Four, "From Short Story to Computer Screen" is appropriate for high school students with prior experience using computer graphics applications.
Theme in Life: Innovative people can adapt, that is, they can make changes to fit new situations.
Theme in Art: People in the arts use their imaginations to adapt ideas from one art form to another, such as a book to a movie or a poem to words for a song.
Lessons approach the themes through key questions.
What ideas can I get for my art from another art form?
What subject matter is represented (shown or described) in the artwork?
How can I use foreground and background to tell a story?
When we adapt, we make changes to fit new situations. People who live in the desert must learn to adapt their lifestyles to the climate. Some people adapt their daily routine as the seasons change. In summer, they exercise and play outdoor games in the cool of the early morning. In winter, they enjoy outdoor activities in the warmth of the afternoon.
Throughout Arizona (and around the world), resourceful people adapt old structures to serve new purposes. In Phoenix, the old Maryvale Mall was adapted to become an elementary school, a middle school and a police station. Phoenix philanthropist Martha Shemer purchased an historic home and had it adapted to become a community museum and art center.
Hollywood has produced many films and TV adaptations inspired by short stories and novels set in Arizona. Screenplay writers, directors, actors, cinematographers and others have transported Arizona people and places from words on a page to action-packed stories we watch on screens both large and small. Adaptation can be practical and can also stimulate creative new ideas.
Lesson One: How We Adapt
How We Adapt (ppt)
Page to Screen Exhibition Preview (ppt)
- Samples of objects adapted for new purposes or situations, such as a coffee mug adapted as a pencil holder or a brick used as a doorstop.
- Samples of consumer products, such as action figures, T-shirts, puzzles, drink cups, or board games inspired by movies like Star Wars, Lord of the Ring, The Little Mermaid or Batman.
- Samples of culturally diverse traditional decorations, such as Day of the Dead figures or paper cutouts; red and gold Chinese good luck objects; Mardi Gras masks and beads; Fourth of July red and white decorations and images of American heroes, etc.
Lesson Two: Exploring Adaptation at the Tempe Center for the Arts
Lesson Three: From Words to Image
Lesson Four: From Short Story to Computer Screen
Short story links:
Spitting Up Frogs by Miki Dare published online by Inscription: A Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction for Teens.
Fee of the Meadow People in Stories of Art by Mary Erickson published by Crizmac.
Upper Elementary or Middle School: computer lab and Pixie 4 computer application.
High School: computer lab and Photoshop Cs4 with USB Adesso drawing tablet and stylus or other appropriate graphic application
Alena Amendarez's fifth grade Language Arts students at Kyrene de las Brisas Elementary School
Hana White, art student at Paradise Valley High School
Ralph and Rhoda Imhof
Russell Erickson and Lena Hubin
Previsit Lesson = 30 minutes
TCA Visit Lesson = Field Trip
Postvisit Lesson = 160 minutes (upper elementary or middle school = two class periods reading and analyzing short story and two class periods in computer lab; high school timing depends on students' prior experience with Photoshop Cs4 using USB Adesso drawing tablet and stylus or other appropriate graphic application)
Special thanks to APS for sponsoring TCA Gallery educational programs.