Preposition Still Life

Author: Paul Heath
Year: 2015
Artform: Visual Art
Subjects: Language Arts
Grade: 2nd Grade & 3rd Grade
Duration: Two 45 minute sessions

Students draw a still life in the style of Paul Wonner and then describe the locations of objects using prepositions (i.e. next to, above, below, on, etc.) The goal is to give Intermediate English language learners the opportunity to increase their vocabulary and proficiency with the English language in a new and unique way.


  • 12” x 18” Drawing Paper
  • Pencils
  • Color Pencils
  • Assorted Objects to draw; especially flowers, boxes, toys, sporting equipment and a stool is helpful to place objects above and below. (Aim for a variety of objects to appeal to different interests and tastes.)
  • Preposition Still Life Presentation
Download PDF Lesson Plan

Standards & Objectives

Fine Art Standards
Integrated Standards
  • Identify different characteristics of line.
  • Draw the basic outline of an object.
  • Combine different objects to make a composition.


Practice Reading/Writing Language Art Standards by answering the question of “where?”


(Synthesis of Knowledge from Bloom’s Taxonomy, working toward Level Four DOK through the act of Creating.)

Overview of prepositions while practicing the art concepts of composition, scale, basic perspective and cast shadows

Teaching and Timeline


Day One, First 5 Minutes:

Show students examples of Paul Wonner’s artwork and his Dutch Still Life Series of Paintings using a Preposition Still Life Presentation. Describe and show examples of still life drawings and give a preview with pictures which demonstrate our project.

Work Period

Day One:

Create the pencil drawing and composition. Initial Blocking-In of Drawing/Composition. Goal: to fill the page with at least 4 objects. Encourage students to pay attention to the positions of their objects relative to each other. Remember to use a variety of objects, from toys to books to sporting equipment so that there is an assortment to appeal to different interests.

After all students have started, show this screencast movie which discusses our activity in the learning center with the App “ICanWrite 2.”

The learning center is new this year, and it is a circular table next to the teacher’s desk where students can reinforce their understanding through assisted demonstrations, technology access, and learning guidance. With our 5 charged iPads, ready and loaded with specific apps, students are able to explore and practice their knowledge of the integrated content.


Day Two:

This week the students continue their Preposition Still Life drawings by adding color with color pencils with attention to adding color in their cast shadows. Note that Paul Wonner would use cool colors (purple, green and blue) for his cast shadows. The goal within this studio time is to get their drawings as complete as possible. Prepositions are reviewed and written on the whiteboard as reminders. Our class size is usually around 25 students, with 5 students/table. One table at a time will have about 10 minutes each to explore ICanWrite 2 and practice writing with prepositions.


Prepositions are reviewed and written on the white board as reminders.


After drawings are completed the drawings can be reviewed within their classrooms with a writing activity. As a group share, ask the students to name as many prepositions as they can think of. Write the prepositions on the board for the students to see and review. (Level Two DOK)

Have the students write as many of the following sentences:

The ______(noun)______ is ______(preposition)_____ the _____(noun)______ .

The sentences are based on the objects (nouns) and composition of their still life. Use a graphic organizer to model this sentence structure for the students to see and use as a reference. (Level Three, Strategic Thinking DOK)

If there is time, have the students pass their still life drawing to another student. Students then write as many more of the above sentences based on their observations with the new still life. Each still life is unique, so the sentences and observations should also be unique. (Level Four, Extended Thinking DOK)

Final Review: Have the students read one or two of their sentences to a partner. That way they are practicing saying the sentence – verbal practice.

  • What is a still life?
  • What is a preposition?
  • How do the objects in a still life answer the question “where?” – relative to one another?

Students choose the objects in the still life which they like/want to draw.

Students can use their imaginations for the colors they see as shadows.

Students write and form their own sentences based on the objects that they pair together.


Examples of Dutch Still Life paintings from Art History can be shown.

An overview of 20th Century American Artist – Paul Wonner’s work and his transtion from an abstract to a realist painter.

  • Prepositions: Above, Below, Beside, Beneath, Next to, Near, Behind, By, Around, Inside, Far Away, Close to, In Front of, Outside, On, Off, Through, Atop, In View of, etc.
  • Art Terms: Still Life, Composition, Scale, Perspective, and Shadows

Identifies what students know to begin lesson. Vocabulary reviewed and writing exercise.


Systematic ELD Lesson Plan for English Language Learners:

Here is an example of the ICanWrite 2 App in action with an English Language Learner

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