• Hunting in the Alps

    Adalbert Waagen, Hunting in the Alps. Oil on canvas, 52 x 41 1/2 inches. Collection of the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University.

  • Sky Trees III

    Madina Croce, Sky Trees III, 2014. Oil on Linen, 23 ¾” X 35 ¾”. Collection of the Carlsbad Museum & Art Center, Carlsbad, NM, USA.

Arbor Day

English Language Arts


4: America: Symbols and Celebrations

2-3 30-minute lessons

fact and opinion

How will asking questions help us learn more about celebrations and holidays?

I can paint a picture of a tree with a Q-tip.
I can write about my tree.
I can explain what Arbor Day is.

Direct Instruction

Preview and predict Arbor Day. Find the author, illustrator, back of the book, front of the book, title. What do you think the book will be about? Discuss the purpose of Arbor Day, a day dedicated annually to public tree-planting in the U.S. and other countries.

Read Arbor Day, by Kelly Bennett. (Any other informational text will work here if you do not have Arbor Day, just make sure you tell them what Arbor Day actually is!)

Lead a discussion about the painting Hunting in the Alps, by Adalbert Waagen. Begin with the questions:

  • What’s going on in this picture?
  • What do you see that makes you say that?
  • What more can we find?

As this discussion is occurring, paraphrase comments neutrally. Point to (but don’t touch) the area being discussed. Link contrasting and complementary comments.

Have students stand, plant their feet like a tree, and move like tree.

Brainstorm a list/web of adjectives (describing words) for the painting. Use chart paper for this so you can post.

Guided Application

Have students sketch a picture of a tree to be painted.

Have students use Q-tips to paint their own tree scene. Explain that they will dip their Q-tip in a color and use it to dot the paint on. (Do not use the Q-tip like a paintbrush.) They will also have more than one Q-tip so there is no need to mix colors unless they want to make a new color on purpose.

Have students write as many thoughts as they are able about their Q-tip painting using the posted adjectives.

Differentiation and Modifications:

Beyond Grade Level: Students write 5-6 thoughts about their tree.

At Grade Level: Students write at least 3 thoughts about their tree.

Below Grade Level: Students label their artwork.

Modification: In science study the life cycle of a tree. Go for a nature walk to determine what a tree needs to survive.

In centers the students can cut and paste pictures depicting the life cycle of a tree. Cut and paste pictures of other words that begin with tr- like tree.

Tree Poem for poetry center.


Take notes about what you see individual students doing. For example: if they are struggling with a task, if they have mastered a task, etc.

Materials Needed

Q-tips, paint, paper to draw and paint on, paper to write on, newspapers (to cover tables)


artist, sketch, description, adjectives, visualize

Artwork in this Lesson

  • Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University
    • Adalbert Waagen | Hunting in the Alps
  • Carlsbad Museum and Art Center
    • Madina Croce | Sky Trees III

Texts in this Lesson

  • Bennett: Arbor Day
  • Paprocki: Tree Hugging