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S.T.E.A.M. in Sixth Grade: Field Sketching Projects

Fall semester 2022, I taught a daily STEAM class for the 6th grade. Building on the students' plant study from fifth grade, we began with field sketching seed pods. We then learned about lettering styles and the difference between serif, sans serif, and script hand lettering. My goal was for each student to develop their own font style which, at the end of the class, they used to create personal stickers.


However, landscape drawing became our big project. I chose this based on a class brainstorm of what they wanted to learn to draw. We did several field trips to different locations to sketch landscapes, learning in the process about selecting a center of interest and using the rule of thirds for an interesting composition. Back in the classroom, the students created different pen textures to represent landscape elements. We talked about the importance of value (using lights and darks.) We also learned techniques for showing distance using color temperature, contrast, and detail. The project required the students to persevere through their pieces even if they didn’t like them at the early stages. They also had to work with the challenge of designing shapes and textures to abstractly represent what they saw in real life. Finally, several students learned about effective collaboration by designing a poster showing their process and products.

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