Creating a Japanese Screen

The screens we will be looking at were created to decorate and beautify the residences of Japanese people. The images on these screens reflect the life and culture of the time when they were created. This exercise will introduce the idea that art is made to enhance our surroundings and also that the choices made about them reflect something about the person choosing.

1. Begin with the classroom. Ask the students to describe what it looked like on the first day of school. What does it look like now? What was added? Why were these things chosen? Make a list.

2. Ask that each student to write down something that they have chosen to decorate their room at home.

3. Have each student pick two of the objects chosen and write a sentence about why this was chosen and why it is important to him/her.

Learning about Japanese screens and applying this to our lives.
• What are Japanese screens?
• How were and are they used?
• What do they tell us about Japan and the Japanese?

Performance objective
By creating their own screens, as well as analyzing Japanese screens, students will identify key elements of a screen (why it was made, how it was used, subject matter, symbols) and how they may help us learn about our lives and those of other peoples.

• Slide projector and slide
• Oak tag
• Markers, pencils, and paint or magazine pictures
• Paper for composition

The screens produced by each student, students’ verbal responses and talks.

1. Begin by showing the slide of the Japanese screen and discussing the object. using the Looking Exercise. Using the background material, teachers and students should be able to discuss the uses for and subject matter of Japanese screens and their place in Japanese arts and culture.

2. Teachers may want to show other examples of Japanese screens, either from books or by visiting a museum.

3. Teachers and students discuss the themes from the screens—nature, the world around them, etc.

4. Teachers and students discuss parallel themes from their own culture.

5. To create ideas for their own screen, each student creates a theme map— their country of origin, their family, their home, and their interests.

6. Students are each given a piece of oak tag and are instructed to fold it into five sections (make six folds) to create a self-standing screen.

7. Students will decorate the screen either with cut-out magazine pictures or drawings.

8. After artwork is done, each student will describe his/her heritage screen in writing.

9. Students take turns showing screens and reading their writing to the class.

Teachers may want to try the following plan to discuss the four seasons, the subject of the screens.

• Pencil
• Paper or notebook
• Blackboard

Teacher and student discussions based on the following questions. During the discussion, make a chart on the blackboard with a section for each season. You may want to construct a grid.
• What are some of the special activities that we do in the spring? In the summer? In the fall? In the winter?
• What types of clothing do we wear for different seasons?
• What are some of the plants and animals that we see outside for each season?
• Would this list be the same if we lived in another place? Would it be the same in Japan?

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