• In the Garden

    Romare Bearden, In the Garden from American Portfolio. Lithograph on paper, 28 3/4 x 21 1/4 inches. Collection of the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University.

  • First Crop

    Thomas Hart Benton, First Crop. Gouache on paper, 21 x 29 3/4 inches. Collection of the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University.

Root Vegetables

Visual Arts

Grade 2

5: Hand-Me-Down Tales From Around the World

3-4 45-minute lessons


What are root vegetables?
How can we show both above ground and below ground in the same picture/drawing?

I can create art from real and imaginary sources of inspiration.
I can understand the relationship between art and concepts in science.
I can evaluate my work both while in progress and at completion

Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University

Day 1

Direct Instruction

Show students the artwork and hold an observations discussion:

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

Read The Gigantic Turnip by Alexei Tolstoy, illustrated by Niamh Sharkey.

Have a class discussion on what root vegetables are; create a list on the board of all the root vegetables students can think of. Show pictures of the root vegetables and their leaves. Tell students that they can identify the different vegetables growing under the ground by the leaves.

Tell students they will be creating their own picture of above and below ground root vegetables.

Days 1-2

Direct Instruction

Demonstrate drawing the ground line and vegetables. Add details such as mole holes, worms, pebbles, etc. and ask what kinds of animals might visit the garden? Include one “hidden” animal, letting the vegetable leaves overlap the animal. Examples of hidden animals might include a turtle, bunny, snake, squirrel, or bird.

Trace over pencil lines using a permanent marker, making sure to emphasize skipping over vegetables when drawing ground line. Some students may still continue the line straight through the veggies.

Guided Practice

Have students begin their drawings by creating a ground line lightly in pencil. Tell students that their drawings are from a bunny’s point of view, so they will not be adding a sun into their pictures as the sun is way up in the sky!

Now, they begin drawing the vegetables. Tell them they should include at least 5 vegetables, to fill the space. They will need to include details such as we talked about during my demonstration.

Once they have completed their pencil drawings, students trace over the drawings with permanent marker.

Day 3

Direct Instruction

After students have completed the marker step, have them pass their drawings to the right. Have each student check the work to insure it includes at least 5 vegetables, some activity both above and below ground, and that all lines are traced in black.

Allow students time to have discussion about each other’s work.

Demonstrate using oil pastels.

Guided Practice

Students begin to add color to all objects in their drawings with oil pastels.

Day 4

Direct Instruction

Demonstrate painting over oil pastels and introduce the concept of resist.

Guided Practice

Students continue to add color to all objects with oil pastels and begin to paint over the top portion of the picture with blue and the bottom portion with brown.

Classroom Extension Ideas

This art lesson connects very naturally to science units on soil and plants. Use the artwork as a starting point to talk about soil layers and composition or to discuss how plants grow. The root vegetable pictures can become an illustration for informative writing. For example, you might have students write a short encyclopedia or wiki article about Earth’s soil and plants for visitors from Jupiter or Venus. What details would help these extraterrestrials understand what soil is like and how plants grow in it?


Have each student evaluate their own work.

  • What works well?
  • Is there anything that does not?
  • How well did I use my space?
  • Did I follow directions?

Have students reflect on what they might do differently/the same if they were to start over.

Art Rubric

Materials Needed

photocopies of root vegetables with their leaves, white drawing paper 12×18” (cut off 1” in either direction for easy mounting), pencils and erasers, permanent markers, oil pastels or crayons, brown and blue watercolors or watered down tempera paint


above, below, root vegetables, resist, overlap

Artwork in this Lesson

  • Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University
    • Romare Bearden | In the Garden
    • Thomas Hart Benton | First Crop