3rd grade Gothic Cathedrals

If you’re looking for an art project that combines traditional art-making with iPad art-making technology plus a healthy dose of learning about Gothic architecture by studying the gorgeous Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, France – here ya go.  Bonus – you get to learn an architectural term that might make you giggle for many years – flying buttress!


We studied pictures of Gothic cathedrals (Notre Dame in particular) and compared how and why (thank you, Flying Buttress!) Gothic architecture was different from the squatty, dark castles that came before it. As a class, we pointed out the pointed arches we saw, the Rose Windows, the gargoyles (and discussed how that was a very creative way to disguise a water spout), and the building materials used.


The pencils and erasers were passed out, and we drew our own Gothic cathedrals on white drawing paper.  Most of the cathedrals had symmetrical tall thin towers on the outside with a smaller tower connecting the outer towers.  We divided the outer towers into several horizontal lines and then created different decorations for each of them.  What we drew on one side, we drew on the other side to make it symmetrical.


We drew freehand a “placeholder circle” (like “zero” is a placeholder in math) for our Rose Windows.  I told them not to worry if  it’s not a perfect circle – just draw the best circle you can.  I told them to make sure there’s a door on their cathedral and lots of windows.  They just went for it and came up with some amazing cathedrals.


Then we traced out pencil-drawn cathedrals with Sharpies.  After erasing any stray pencil marks, we used a peeled gray crayon sideways and created a stony texture on our cathedral.  Then we cut it out and glued it onto construction paper.


THEN…we created our own Rose Windows on the iPad.  They really loved this!  I demo’ed how to create it through an iPad app, Kaleido Free.  We made our own choices with colors (instead of using the rainbow where they choose all the colors.)  I showed them how to create a time-lapse video and they loved watching it and showing it to their friends in art.

After that, I printed their created Kaleido Free iPad Rose Windows and they picked theirs, cut it out, and glued it into their placeholder circle.  Now for some problem solving.  Most of the times, our placeholder circle had extra room in it when the Kaleido Free circle was glued in.  So, we used crayons and markers to add our own colorful decoration to the iPad generated Rose Window.  They looked great next to each other.

Last step – we glued our completed Gothic Cathedrals to a construction paper background.  Voila!

***Editor’s note: I used to teach this in 1st grade, but get better results and comprehension in 3rd.  It’s still on my site from teaching at both levels.***

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