The following activities are designed to support learning from the Turtle Island poster. Please feel free to modify them as needed to suit the needs of your students.
CHECK A BOOK FOR BIAS - 7
You could invite, write or fax authors and illustrators of diverse background to be guests throughout the year.
You could write to local publishers. Discuss inclusion of Aboriginal and minority writers.
You could create a newsletter with poems, art, stories, etc., ensuring diversity and inclusion.
Adapted from: Stereotypes Worksheet and Ten Quick Ways to Analyze Children’s Books for Sexism and Racism. The Council on International Books for Children. Reprinted in Anti-Bias Curriculum: Tools for Empowering Young Children. Louise Derman-Sparks and the A.B.C. Task Force (pp 141-145).
Turtle Island Poster A Reading/Searching Activity For Most Grade Levels
Answer sheet for: A Reading/Searching Activity For Most Grade Levels
Visual Arts - Primary
Curriculum Expectations from the Ontario Curriculum (Grade 3):
Identify and explain the specific choices they made in planning, producing, and displaying their own art work (e.g., the choices of subject matter, colours, location for display)
explain how the artist has used the elements of design to communicate feelings and convey ideas (e.g., show that the artist has placed certain objects in the foreground of a picture to convey the idea that they are important.
Communicate information, using media works, oral presentations, written notes and descriptions, and drawings (e.g., design a poster advertising a pioneer tool
Turtle Island poster
textured paper or fabriccoloured
Invite students to join you in a circle. Look closely at the poster. Ask if they can see the turtle. How does it stand out from the rest of the logo? (Green textured paper). What does the grey textured paper do to the picture? (It makes a circle with the turtle). Did the artist use texture for these two areas on purpose? Why? Point out the seven dark grey loops connecting the grey texture to the learning circle. (There are seven continents... we are all connected).
Inside the learning circle are the Four Colours: white, red, black, yellow. These Four Colours represent the colours of Mother Earth’s people and are also the Four Directions and the Four Elements. The number four is very important in native culture. Ask students to think of other things from their own culture or lives that come in fours? Are there more sets of four within the logo?
Invite students to create a logo of their own, using a number that is important to them. Encourage them to use texture to emphasize an important part of their poster. They should be able to explain their reasons for what and where they place things on their poster, like Polly Keeshig-Tobias has done for her poster.
Turtle Island is what Aboriginal people call North America. Provide each student with a map of North America and invite them to make it into a turtle using coloured pencils, paper, fabric... their imaginations.
Visual Arts - Junior
Curriculum Expectations from the Ontario Curriculum (Grade 6):
Solve artistic problems in their work, using elements of design and at least one of the principles of design specified for this grade (e.g., create a work depicting a local historical event, using line and colour as means of emphasis to highlight the most important aspect of the picture.
Demonstrate awareness that an artist intentionally uses some of the elements and principles of design to convey meaning, and explain how the artist accomplishes his or her intentions (e.g., explain that, in a seascape, the artist emphasizes the size of an iceberg by placing it in the foreground and using bold, diagonal lines to define it).
Turtle Island poster
textured paper or invite the students to create their own textures coloured paper
Invite students to join you in a circle to look at the Turtle Island poster.
Concentrate on the logo. Focus first on the grey circle with the seven little rings attached to it. This is the learning circle. The students seated around you are in a learning circle, too. This is how most Aboriginal teaching takes place; in a circle. It is no coincidence that there are seven little circles. They represent the seven continents. Notice how they are all joined together by the larger circle; Mother Earth. Inside this outer circle are the Four Colours: white, red, black, yellow. These are the Four Colours of Mother Earth’s peoples. They also represent the Four Directions and the Four Elements. Notice how the artist has used circles, dots, straight lines and curved lines to create her design.
The poster is called Turtle Island because that is what Aboriginal people call North America. What technique did the artist, Polly Keeshig-Tobias, use to make the Turtle Island stand out? (Texture. Notice that the grey and green textures together form another circle) Have the students read the artist’s reasons for her choices within the poster (underneath the turtle).
Invite students to think of a shape and a number that are important to them. Have them begin with that shape and create a design using straight lines, curved lines, circles, dots and colour, repeating their important number within the design. They should be able to explain their choice of number, colours, and shape. Then have them extend their shape and make it into and animal to be their own island. How will they make the animal shape stand out from the rest of the design?
Visual Arts - Intermediate
Curriculum Expectations from the Ontario Curriculum (Grade 8):
Describe how the elements of design are used to create the area of emphasis (focal point) in a work of art (e.g., contrasts in colour, line, shape, or texture can serve to emphasize specific aspects of the work).
Describe how the elements of design are used to create formal (symmetrical) and informal (asymmetrical) balance in compositions.
Describe their plan for a work of art, the main idea they wish to communicate and the artistic decisions they have made to support that message.
Explain how the effective use of the elements and principles of design contributes to an art work’s ability to communicate feelings, convey ideas, and enrich people’s lives.
Turtle Island poster
coloured papertextured paper or cloth or invite the students to create their own texture
pencils and coloured pencils
In a circle, students join you to look at the Turtle Island poster. This circle is a learning circle; it is how most traditional Aboriginal learning took place. Focus first on the inner circles within the logo, the area inside the large grey circle with the seven loops on it. Notice the symmetry within this area, the formal balance. Notice how the area, other than the central black dot, is all divided into groups of four. Four is a very important number for Aboriginal people. Notice the cross-like shape pointing in the Four Directions. Notice the arcs at the cross extremities, the Four Elements: green - earth; red - fire; blue - water; white - wind. Notice the arcs beyond them, these are the Four Colours: white, red, black, yellow. These colours represent the colours of Mother Earth’s people. Notice that in this area, the artist, Polly Keeshig-Tobias, used straight lines, curved lines, circles and dots.
Look at the colours used throughout this poster. They are mostly warm colours, a lot of yellow, orange and red. The warm colours are used purposely because this poster is an invitation to learn more about the Aboriginal peoples and their cultures so the artist wanted warm, inviting colours.
Look at the area outside of the grey circle with the seven loops. Notice the informal balance of this area. The artist wanted seven small circles to represent the seven continents. How did she manage to make this balance? (By putting two circles into one grey area, by having six grey areas instead of seven so that together with the six turtle areas, the total would be twelve rather than thirteen, so there would be an even number of grey and green areas.) Notice that the grey and green areas form another circle and that the pieces fit together like a puzzle. How did the artist make this Turtle Island area stand out from the rest of the logo? (She used texture, asymmetrical balance and some lines that are more squiggly).
Invite students to think of a shape, a number, some colours and an animal that are important to them. They should be able to explain the significance of their choices. Have them plan their art, beginning with their selected shape. Then they divide it using their chosen number, colours and elements of design; straight lines, curved lines, circles and dots. (Circles are open and dots are filled in. They don’t have to be round, they can be oval, kidney shaped etc.) Next, they make their shape into the animal they have chosen. How will they make the animal stand out from the rest of the art? Once they have their plan, they can begin to create their logo with the materials provided.
Access additional resources for Aboriginal studies from:
Canadian Race Relations Foundation – www.crr.ca
Historica - www.histori.ca
Indian and Northern Affairs Canada - www.inac.gc.ca
Toronto Star and ETFO: The Teaching Circle Program - www.thestar.com
Good Minds - www.goodminds.com