Step 1: Have students look at art samples online by Betty Hawley Kelso. Have them create a see, think, wonder chart (I see… I think….I wonder….) comparing her various works using geometric abstract art. Discuss if the design was purposeful, the color choices, if measurement might have been involved, etc. For examples, click here.
Step 2: Then, have students do the same activity with Shape Poetry. Using the example of Old Mazda Lamp (grades 7+) or The Running Giraffe (grades 1-5 – Located in “Where the Sidewalk Ends”), show students the artistic way that some poets write their stories: as the shapes of which they are describing.
Step 3: Compare writing about the qualities of a shape to drawing a picture using these shapes together. What is the same? What is different? What skills are needed to do both activities? Create a list of these skills.
Step 4: Give students a copy of a Kelso painting. Have them measure various shapes using rulers to see if each shape is in proportion to the other, and if the measurements are exact. Discuss their findings as a class. What did this mean from the artistic point of view? From the math point of view?
Step 5: Have students create a Kelso painting using squares, triangles, circles, and rectangles only. The shapes must be measured exactly and the final picture must be of an item that they could write about.
Step 6: Students then write a poem within their geometric painting that describes the qualities or meaning of that shape without naming it.