CATS - An Integrated Mini-Unit (1-3)


CATSIn this integrated mini-unit the students will be exposed to several art lessons.

  • Mixing Primary Colors to create a “collage cat mask.

  • Creative writing of poetry that say something about their rainbow cat mask.

  • Learning a simple cat tale to present (retell) to the class using their mask.

  • Learning (or revisiting if already learned) the song Red, Yellow, Blue (See this in the technology section) to strengthen their awareness of the primary and secondary colors.

Another integration of the arts in the curriculum would be to create a Kid Pix drawing in primary and secondary colors.   The song Red, Yellow, Blue can be taught in a lesson by making the color wheels or other lesson on color exploration.

  Lesson Plan for Storytelling as an Art Form

Lesson Title:  Telling a Good Cat Tale                    Grade Level: Appropriate for 1-3

Lesson Objectives:  HOW TO DELIVER A SIMPLE STORY! Used as a homework project, this lesson requires parental interaction so students may learn a simple story to retell to their classmates.  The art of storytelling is introduced with a teacher example in the classroom.  In most cases for first grade the story will be read by the parent then the student will practice retelling it over and over again working on the presentation.  Voice and any gestures needed are the emphasis of the lesson. 

  Materials Needed:

A Xeroxed cat tale for each student to take home for rehearsal (each will be different if possible.)

Letter of explanation to the parents from the teacher on the homework project.


Teacher Strategies/Procedures:

Discuss storytelling and how it differs from reading from a book.

Teacher should deliver a story to the class they have rehearsed (using a cat mask!)

Show the students how to “map” the story so they are able to learn it more easily Simple drawings are used to assist recall.

Have ready for each student a packet with the information they need to do the homework assignment successfully.

Give students about 10 days to do this assignment at home.  If given on a Monday to take home, plan to hear the student presentation the following week on Tuesday or Wednesday.  Option:  If the students are apt to deliver homework papers on a Friday, it would be best to have two weekends to work on the rehearsal.

By Wednesday of week one (two days after sending home the information) have the students get into pairs and rehearse their stories with their partner.  Do this each day so the students are reminded and aware that this needs to be practiced at home on a daily basis so they are ready the following week for their presentation.

Evaluation of Lesson:

Great excitement over the forthcoming CATS presentation is in the air.

Cat Tales For Children To Retell

The Cage Bird And the Bat (Pat’s cats-Fables: http:///www…)

The Cat and the Birds (Pat’s cats-Fables: http:///www/

The Cock, The Cat, and The Mouse (gopher://

The Cat and The Mice (Pat’s cats-Fables: http:///www/

The Fox and The Cat (Pat’s cats-Fables: http:///www…)

The Fox and The Cat (Hamilton & Weiss)

The Cat and The King (Pat’s cats-Fables: http:///www/

The Cat-Maiden (Pat’s cats-Fables: http:///www/

The Cat and The Cock (Pat’s cats-Fables: http:///www/

Belling The Cat (Pat’s cats-Fables: www)

The Parrot and The Cat (Pat’s cats-Fables: www…)

The Eagle, The Cat, and The Wild Sow (Pat’s cats-Fables: www…)

Venus and The Cat (Pat’s cats-Fables: www…)

The Cat and The Dog (de Caro)

The Cat and The Mouse in Partnership (de Caro)

The Flying Kitten (de Caro)

The Cat and The Crab (de Caro)

Tiger and Bra Nansi (de Caro)

Why the Leopard Can Only Catch Prey on its Left Side (de Caro)

Why The Cat Falls on Her Feet (de Caro)

The Cat Came Back (Schwartz)

The Fastest Cat on Earth (Schwartz)

Once There Was A Cat (Schwartz)

Why Dogs Chase Cats (Hamilton and Weiss)

How Tigers Got Their Stripes (Hamilton and Weiss)

Why Cats Wash Their Paws After Eating (Hamilton and Weiss)

Deep In The Swamp (de Caro)

The Cat With The Beckoning Paw (MacDonald, 1988)

Cat Tales for Teachers To Retell

Mabela The Clever (MacDonald, 2001)      

Millions of Cats (Ga’g)

Fat Cat  (MacDonald, 2001)

The Tale of a Black Cat  (MacDonald, 1988)

The King of Cats (may or may not be appropriate for small children.)  (Schwartz)

A Tale of Grass (Schwartz)

The Little Red Hen (Garner)


Lesson Plan for the Visual Arts

Lesson Title:  Rainbow Cat Mask     

Grade Level: Appropriate for 1-3

Lesson Objectives:  An interdisciplinary mini-unit created with the theme of cats.  This portion of the unit will provide students with a clear understanding of primary and secondary colors as well as repetition (patterns) by creating papers that will be used to construct a cat mask collage.

Materials Needed, Lesson 1:

1 sheet of 9 X 12 white art paper (80 LB. drawing is best or white tag board)

One inch blobs of tempera paints in the three primary colors on paper plates

water containers/cans

#10 paint brushes

Newspapers for table/desktops and for drying wet art on

Black Sharpee Permanent Markers

Xeroxed copies of “Repeated Pattern Ideas” for students to look at for ideas

Pencils for writing names on back of art papers

Materials Needed, Lesson 2:


Elmer’s White School Glue (bottles)

Tracers for cat parts that is included with this lesson (cut from tag board)


Brush for applying glue

Water cans to soak and clean brushes

Teacher Strategies/Procedures:  Lesson one:

Have examples of paper they will be creating plus an example of the finished art piece.

Review color theory and demonstrate how to apply the color in stripes on the paper.

Review patterns and how to repeat motifs to create a pattern; share examples that they can get ideas from (don’t need to copy, but this is a springboard for their own ideas.)

Demonstrate how to draw some simple patterns on the 9 X 12 sheet of paper.

Demonstrate how to paint this sheet (in a “stripe” formation) having six colors when finished (make three new ones from the three primary colors!)

Remind students to use the paintbrush on the paper as if they were petting a kitty cat (soft and gentle, easy does it! DO NOT MOP THE KITCHEN FLOOR!)

Hand out repeated pattern example sheets, paper and markers.

Put names on backs with PENCILS (markers show through!)

Draw designs that are simple but will be effective and add interest to their finished work.

Give out paints, water cans, and brushes as needed.

Lesson Two: (after art papers are dry)

Students will trace pieces for the cat’s body (on 9x 12 painted papers.) 

I prefer to have students trace on the back white side of the paper so they can see the lines for cutting.

Cut traced shapes on lines.

Eyes are best done if the teacher or adult assistant does this.

Using Elmer’s white bottled school glue, assemble pieces to create the cat’s face.

Remind students to use “freckle-sized dots” of glue for attaching these pieces!

Use a light coating of Elmer’s glue applied all over the cat mask to make sturdier.

Punch holes on sides and attach a piece of elastic to the mask to keep it on.

Evaluation of Lesson:

Students loved making the paper to create their cat; although directions call for primary and secondary colors, some students chose to be creative and make other arrangements of colors (one student used only green and blue stripes.)  The success of this lesson was high and the students come away with a working knowledge of the primary and secondary colors as well as a finished product that they adore.  Meowwwwwww….



My original art lesson was to use a circle for the cat’s body and brass paper fasteners for a head and tail.  I have altered this plan to accommodate the idea of mask making for the storytelling unit.

Teaching or revisiting my song Red, Yellow, Blue (sung to the tune of Three blind Mice) would also be appropriate with this lesson.

Create a felt board and use Leo Lionni’s Little Blue and Little Yellow to present to the class as reinforcements for primary and secondary colors.

Mouse Paint a book by Ellen Stoll Walsh is another possibility for a felt board storytelling presentation.



Lesson Plan for The Art of Creative Writing

Lesson Title:  Creating Visual Images Through Written Words  

Grade Level: Appropriate for grades 1-3

Lesson Objectives: To create interesting visual imagery through a creative writing exercise that will compliment a visual art piece (“Rainbow Cat Mask.”)

Materials Needed: 

Finished rainbow cat collage to look at.

Imagination and creativity!

Form poetry can either be done on an overhead or if the teacher chooses xeroxed papers for each student.  

This will hopefully not be the first creative writing exercise for students, but in some cases it may be.  Using simple form poetry ideas are a wonderful way for students to stretch their minds.  Even at the beginning writing stages of first grade the students can be “pumped” through dictation and these poems can sound sophisticated and wonderful.

Teacher Strategies/Procedures:

Students will receive their rainbow cat so they have them to look at while they do this creative writing exercise.

Use the “IF” poetry idea  (*see the following page for more examples)

  Using the subject of cats, colors, or rainbows, students are sure to come up with some magnificent ideas.

Student Examples


 (Using cat as the subject)                                                                             

If I were a cat,                                                                                               

I’d meow softly like a gentle breeze.                                                                                   

I’d pounce on mice that zoom about in my garden,

I’d sneak like a cheetah in the long brown grass,

I’d kill that mouse with one paw,

And leave it by the doorstep,

And then snooze in the warm sun.    By Shelby, age 7


(Using just one color, yellow, as the subject)

If I were yellow

I’d be the warm summer sun.

I’d shine like a rose in the bright garden.

I’d warm Earth like a burning fire, and

I’d smile and sing and dance

In the big blue sky.  By Sterling  (9) and Shelby (7)


                    “IF”                                                       (Using primary and secondary colors)

If I were red,

I’d be a fire burning on a cold winter night.

If I were yellow, I’d be a big smelly rose.

If I were orange I’d be a juicy piece of fruit.

If I were blue I’d be the warm ocean

   where people come to swim and surf.

If I were green I’d be a sailboat bouncing

   in the choppy lake.

If I were purple I’d be a sweet juicy grape

   growing on a vine.   By Sterling, Age 9

Another choice for the subject of “IF “ poems could be a rainbow or rainbow colors.

Alternate Creative Writing Idea:  Do a simple color poem choosing just one color.

Use analogies, similes or metaphors to express feelings about a single color. (Taken From The World Wide Web, February 8, 2002:


Analogies: a comparison as to how something would be alike or similar.

Similes:  Descriptions of things compared that are unlike each other using like or as.

Metaphors:  A figure of speech in which a term is transferred from the object it ordinarily designates to an object it may designate only by implicit comparison or analogy. Creating an image of an object/thing by a description.



Gold is like a fond memory of a special time.

Gold is autumn leaves covering a forest path.

Gold is the flames in a fire.


Or, even simpler, list objects, which are, or remind you of, a specific color. 

I like yellow                  






Also Acrostics would be a great brainteaser for young writers:






Dear Parents,

We are currently working on cat tales as part of visual arts and language arts project.  Each student is bringing home a cat story that the parent will help the child read.  The idea is that the child will rehearse over the next week a way to recall the story and tell it to back to the group in an interesting way.  The story can be adapted for the child, words changed if needed for their ability, and the focus will be on delivering the story so others understand it.  Encourage your child to retell their story after they have learned it to all your family members so they will be getting practice with their delivery.  Once the students get comfortable with the plot of the story, then they can practice using different voices if they like. 

The students are all working on a different story and will be presenting the cat tales to the class __________ and __________.  This is a fun and exciting way for the students to learn the art of storytelling.  They will be using a paper cat mask as they deliver their story to their classmates.

We are all looking forward to this and hope your little kitten will practice at home.   Meow!

Artfully yours,

A good way to learn to recall a story is to make some simple drawings to show the story sequence.  A few times of “reading” from the picture sheet will make for instant success.  Have your child try this and see how it works.


For CATS, an Integrated Mini-Unit


Bader, B. (1991).  Aesop & Company. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.

De Caro, F.  (1992)The Folktale Cat. Little Rock Arkansas: August House Books.

Gathings, E. (1988). Cut and Make Cat Masks in Full Color. New York: Dover Publications.

Ga’g, W. (1988). Millions  of Cats.  New  York: Howard McCann, Inc.

Garner, A.  (1997). The Little Red Hen. New York: DK Publishing.

Hamilton. M. & Weiss, M. (1999).  How and Why Stories: World Tales Kids Can Read & Tell.  Little Rock Arkansas: August House Books.

MacDonald, M. (2001).  Fat Cat.  Little Rock Arkansas: August House Books.

MacDonald, M. (2001). Mabela the Clever.  Little Rock Arkansas: August House Books.

MacDonald, M. (1988).  When The Lights Go Out: Twenty Scary Tales To Tell.  New York: H, W. Wilson Company.

O’Neill, M. (1988).  Hailstones and Halibut Bones: Adventures in Color.  New York: Doubleday Publishing.

Schwartz, A. (1992).  Stories To Tell A Cat. New York:  Harper Collins.

Sweeney, J. (1994).  Quick poetry activities.  New York, New York:  Scholastic Professional Press



















































Making an effort to increase student learning by integrating  storytelling will help children gain meaningful context to their lives.