The Art, Books, and Creativity (ABC) curriculum comprises fourteen lesson plans, high resolution images, artists’ biographies, book-making instructions, and a vocabulary list. Lesson plans and vocabulary lists are available in English and Spanish versions.
Download full ABC Curriculum in English (2011 version)
Download full ABC Curriculum in Spanish (2007 version)

For Educators:
Introduction to the ABC Curriculum
Introduces curriculum concepts, including artists’ books; curriculum organization centered on observation, creation, and reflection; art materials; 6+1 Traits of Writing; and assessment.

Curriculum Overview
One-page summary of the curriculum’s enduring understandings, essential questions, key concepts, and assessment evidence.


Introduction to Art, Books, & Creativity

Students are introduced to the art form known as artists’ books and to the idea that visual artists and writers use parallel tools and processes to create their works. Students make folder portfolios and rubber-band journals.

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Exploring Media & Materials

Students experiment with watercolors, markers, oil pastels, and other media to create lines, patterns, shapes, and textures; practice rendering value and form; and explore how different media and tools can help them express ideas and feeling.

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Students view and discuss Love’s Young Dream by Jennie Augusta Brownscombe, considering how artists express stories visually through setting, symbols, etc. Students learn that by looking carefully and analyzing what they see, they can “read” narrative art to find meaning, much as they do narrative writing. (Additional image: To Kiss the Spirits by Hollis Sigler)

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Students view and discuss Portrait of a Noblewoman by Lavinia Fontana and explore how artists help us understand the people portrayed in their art. By observing the subject’s clothing, facial expression, and physical context, students can infer much about his or her identity, personality, and role in society. Students create self-portrait books illustrated with visual and written self-portraits. (Additional image: Self-Portrait Dedicated to Leon Trotsky by Frida Kahlo)

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Landscape & Still Life

Students view and discuss Staffelsee in Autumn by Gabriele Münter and Still Life with Watermelon, Pears, and Grapes by Lilly Martin Spencer. They learn how artists use overlapping, size, color, foreground, and background to create the illusion of depth on a two-dimensional surface. They create a tunnel book in which to explore landscape and depth. (Additional images: March, Bermuda by Jennifer Bartlett and Still Life of Fish and Cat by Clara Peeters)

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Students view and discuss Iris, Tulips, Jonquils, and Crocuses by Alma Thomas, exploring how artists communicate ideas and emotions through abstract means. Students discover that the subject of some abstract art is the arrangement the elements of art, rather than the description of people, ideas, things, or places. Students create a flag book. (Additional image: Rainy Night, Downtown by Georgia Mills Jessup)

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Students view and discuss Untitled by Frida Baranek. They learn that three-dimensional objects like sculpture often can be viewed from multiple sides and that a work’s forms may change depending on the position of the viewer. Students explore the materials formal vocabulary artists use to create sculptures and use paper folding techniques to create sculpture hats. (Additional image: Jar by Lucy Martin Lewis)

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Artists’ Books

Students view and discuss Tunnel Map by Carol Barton and Circulus Sapientiae (Circle of Wisdom) by Clare Van Vliet. They discover similarities and differences between traditional books, sculpture, and artists’ books. Students explore how images, text, and the form of the book work together to express meaning. They add text and images to the flag book they made in Lesson 5.

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Colorful Words & Telling Images

Students look at illustrated children’s books to explore how illustrations and texts can relate to and strengthen one another. Students choose descriptive words or phrases from their journals and quick writes and create images that help communicate their meaning.

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Imagine Your Artist’s Book

Students review all of their artwork and writings and choose a concept for their final artists’ books. They select text and illustration techniques to use in their final books and choose a book form to house their words and images. Students explore the idea that an artist’s book is a container for housing an idea.

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Creating a Prototype

Students learn that artists and writers use tools to help them explore and test new ideas and designs. Students make prototypes of their artists’ books and plan where the text and images will go on each of the pages. Based on their prototypes, students decide if revisions to the text, images, and book forms are needed.

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Revising & Editing

Students revise text they selected from previous writings to make sure it clearly says what they want it to say. Students edit their writing to correct standard rules of language.

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Pulling It All Together

Students make their artists’ books by working on book forms and their various components including images, texts, covers, and the layout and assembly of these parts. This lesson is meant to give students time to work on the various parts of their books at their own paces.

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Student Exhibition

Students celebrate their creativity and achievements. It is time for students to enjoy looking at each other’s artists’ books and for the class to reflect on what it has accomplished and learned.

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