Learning Resource Type

Lesson Plan

Alabama's Pine Barren

Subject Area

Arts Education
Social Studies


3, 4


Students will read a description of the pine barrens by Basil Hall and analyze the text by using the 3-2-1 strategy. Students will discuss the life and work of Basil Hall, including his travels and journaling in North America. They will observe how a camera lucida functions and debate whether using a camera lucida is "cheating" in art. Next, students will venture outside to create a sketch of their environment while appropriately utilizing materials. They will compare and contrast their products to the sketches of Basil Hall and critique each other's work. 

This lesson was created in partnership with the Alabama Department of Archives and History.

    Social Studies (2010) Grade(s): 3


    Interpret various primary sources for reconstructing the past, including documents, letters, diaries, maps, and photographs.

    Unpacked Content



    • interpret
    • legends
    • stories
    • songs
    • contributed
    • development
    • cultural history
    • tall tales
    • folk heroes


    Students know:

    • The purpose and essential elements of legends, stories, and songs.
    • Examples of legends, stories, and songs that contributed to United States' cultural history including American Indian Legends, African American Stories, Tall Tales and stories of Folk Heroes.
    • Vocabulary: legends, stories, songs, cultural history.


    Students are able to:

    • Interpret legends, stories, and songs.
    • Identify the purpose and essential elements of legends, stories, and songs.
    • Identify the contribution that specific legends, stories, and songs had on the development of cultural history of the United States.


    Students understand that:

    • There are legends, stories, and songs that have contributed to the development of the cultural history of the United States.
    Social Studies (2010) Grade(s): 4


    Relate reasons for European exploration and settlement in Alabama to the impact of European explorers on trade, health, and land expansion in Alabama.

    Unpacked Content



    • settlement
    • European exploration
    • culture
    • expansion
    • trade (barter)


    Students know:
    • The location, purpose, and importance of European settlements including Fort Conde, Fort Toulouse, and Fort Mims in early Alabama.
    • The routes taken by early explorers including Juan Ponce de León, Hernando de Soto, and Vasco Núñez de Balboa.
    • Reasons for conflicts between Europeans and American Indians in Alabama from 1519 to 1840, including differing beliefs regarding land ownership, religion, and culture.


    The students will be able to:
    • Explain the impact of European explorers on trade, health, and land expansion in Alabama.
    • Locate on maps European settlements in early Alabama, including Fort Condé, Fort Toulouse, and Fort Mims.
    • Trace on maps and globes, the routes of early explorers of the New World, including Juan Ponce de León, Hernando de Soto, and Vasco Núñez de Balboa.


    Students understand that:
    • There were specific reasons Europeans began exploring and settling in Alabama and this impacted existing settlements in Alabama.
    Social Studies (2010) Grade(s): 4


    Tracing on maps and globes, the routes of early explorers of the New World, including Juan Ponce de León, Hernando de Soto, and Vasco Núñez de Balboa

    Arts Education (2017) Grade(s): 3 - Visual Arts


    Elaborate on an individual or prompted imaginative idea.

    Unpacked Content



    • Creativity
    • Criteria
    • Critique
    • Design
    • Media
    • Mixed media
    • Monochromatic
    • Principles of design
      • Rhythm
    • Technology
    • Visual image

    Essential Questions

    EU: Creativity and innovative thinking are essential life skills that can be developed.
    EQ: What conditions, attitudes, and behaviors support creativity and innovative thinking? What factors prevent or encourage people to take creative risks? How does collaboration expand the creative process?

    Skills Examples

    • Use a variety of materials to create a three-dimensional mask showing a student's personality.
    • Use torn paper scraps to create rhythm in a landscape.
    • Plan a community/city; then, build a model of it with recyclable materials, such as cardboard, boxes, containers, and tubes.
    • Collaborate with a group to demonstrate how to care for tools used in class (such as paintbrushes).
    • After looking at Vincent van Gogh's painting, Bedroom, create a narrative painting depicting a memory of a student's personal bedroom.
    • Use appropriate visual art vocabulary during the art-making process of two-and-three-dimensional artworks.
    • Collaborate with others to create a work of art that addresses an interdisciplinary theme.
    • Read and explore books like Imagine That by Joyce Raimondo or Dinner at Magritte's by Michael Garland and then create a Surrealistic style artwork.
    • Recognize and identify choices that give meaning to a personal work of art.
    • Create a drawing using monochromatic colors (paint, oil pastels, etc.).
    • Explore individual creativity using a variety of media.
    • Understand what effects different media can have in a work of art.

    Anchor Standards

    Anchor Standard 1: Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work.
    Arts Education (2017) Grade(s): 3 - Visual Arts


    Speculate about processes and purposes an artist used to create a work of art.

    Unpacked Content



    • Creativity
    • Criteria
    • Critique
    • Design
    • Media
    • Mixed media
    • Monochromatic
    • Principles of design
      • Rhythm
    • Technology
    • Visual image

    Essential Questions

    EU: Individual aesthetic and empathetic awareness developed through engagement with art can lead to understanding and appreciation of self, others, the natural world, and constructed environments.
    EQ: How do life experiences the way you relate to art? How does learning about art impact how we perceive the world? What can we learn from our responses to art?

    Skills Examples

    • Identify the basic elements of art in a work of art through discussion and writing.
    • Observe and compare similar themes in artwork from historical and contemporary eras.
    • Theorize how individuals can have different opinions about works of art.
    • Demonstrate and apply critiques of personal work and the work of others in a positive way.
    • Select an art object and explain reasons why it is a work of art.
    • Use feedback and self-assessment to improve the quality of personal artwork.
    • Discuss the difference between Meret Oppenheim's Object and an everyday cup.
    • Discuss how art can be related to other subject areas.

    Anchor Standards

    Anchor Standard 7: Perceive and analyze artistic work.
    Arts Education (2017) Grade(s): 4 - Visual Arts


    Through observation, infer information about time, place, and culture in which a work of art was created.

    Unpacked Content



    • Constructed environment
    • Cultural traditions
    • Digital format
    • Engagement
    • Tertiary color
    • Preservation
    • Proportion
    • Principles of design
      • Unity
    • Shade
    • Style
    • Tints & shades

    Essential Questions

    EU: People develop ideas and understandings of society, culture, and history through their interactions with and analysis of art.
    EQ: How does art help us understand the lives of people of different times, places, and cultures? How is art used to impact the views of a society? How does art preserve aspects of life?

    Skills Examples

    • Create a quilt square in the style of the Gee's Bend Quilters.
    • State what materials or processes you prefer and why.
    • Discuss how art and design serves multiple functions such as to inform, entertain, invest, persuade, ritualize or assist in everyday tasks.
    • Observe and discuss the statue of Vulcan in Birmingham and talk about its relationship to history of the city.
    • Investigate differences in cultural style, genres, and context through historical time periods.
    • Discuss how art reflects the interests, accomplishments and conflicts of culture and society over time.
    • Use details and descriptive language to identify universal themes, subject matter and ideas expressed across arts disciplines.
    • Identify and describe how artists have depicted Alabama history.

    Anchor Standards

    Anchor Standard 11: Relate artistic ideas and works with societal, cultural, and historical context to deepen understanding.

    Primary Learning Objectives

    1. Students will locate the path of a European explorer in America using a map and explain the importance of waterways in migration and settlements.
    2. Students will analyze the technical aspects in the primary sources of Basil Hall, including texture, details, balance, and unity and variety.
    3. Students will sketch the environment outside the school using pencil and paper.
    4. Students will properly utilize supplies for the environment and purpose.
    5. Students will compare and contrast personal environmental sketches to those of Basil Hall.
    6. Students will describe human impact on the environment.
    7. Students will critique the products of their classmates in small groups.



    1. Display the attached description of pine barrens as written by Basil Hall in Forty Etchings and ask students to read it silently or have students take turns reading the text aloud. 
    2. Complete a 3-2-1 strategy chart with 3 discoveries, 2 interesting points, and 1 remaining question. One is linked in the materials section. The chart can be completed individually, in small groups, or as a class depending on time and needs.


    1. "The description that we just read was written by Basil Hall in 1829." Show the attached engraving of Basil Hall.
    2. "He was a European explorer that traveled through North America in 1827 and 1828. He wanted to report on the new United States." Show the map of his travels and ask the students to detail his route by sharing his starting location. Hall traveled down the St. Lawrence and in New England, then down the Ohio and Mississippi to New Orleans, across to Savannah, and north along the Atlantic coast to Canada. "Why do Basil Hall's travels follow many rivers?" (ease of transportation and location of resources) "Why are so many cities located on waterways?" (transportation, food, trading, rich soil)
    3. "Why do you think he was exploring North America?" (identifying possible trade opportunities, opportunities for land acquisition) 
    4. "He not only wanted to tell about the new country but to show Europeans what it looked like. So, he used a tool called the camera lucida to sketch accurate representations of his travels. Why wouldn't he used a camera to make photographs of what he saw?" (Cameras were not commonly used until about 10 years later.) Show a YouTube video about the camera lucida and how it works.
    5. Show the attached picture of the pine barren sketch by Basil Hall. "This is the sketch made by Basil Hall that he described in the writing at the beginning of class. He used the camera lucida in this drawing."
    6. "Some people think artists that use a camera lucida are cheating. Others think that they using it as another tool, like pencils and erasers. Do you think Basil Hall was cheating or using the camera lucida as a tool?" Encourage discussion and debate between the two points of view. 
    7. "After he returned to Europe, he put together his journal about his travels and his sketches made from the camera lucida into a book called Forty Etchings: From Sketches Made with the Camera Lucida in North America in 1827 and 1828. He included sketches of cities, people, and landscapes." Show the attached pictures of Hall's sketches of Rochester, Creek Indian chiefs, and the pine barrens. While viewing these sketches, remind students that they were made with the camera lucida. 
    8. Show the sketch of Rochester. "Hall described the village of Rochester as a fast growing city that grew from a forest of trees in 1812 to nearly 8,000 residents in 1826. The Erie Canal went through the middle of the city. It connected the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes in the middle of the country." Show map of the Erie Canal linked in the resources section. "Why do you think the city grew so fast?" (access to trade and travel, food and water)
    9. Show the sketch of the Creek Indian chiefs. "During the time Hall was exploring North America, Native Americans were removed from their homes by American troops and forced to march to Indian territory in Oklahoma. This is known as the Trail of Tears. Why were the Native Americans removed from their land?" (to take their fertile land for farming) 
    10. "Some Native Americans tried to remain on their land in the southern states. These are two chiefs from the Creek tribe in Georgia that were sketched by Hall. The chief on the left was known as Little Prince and was very well respected in the area. He was about 80 years old when Hall met him and died just a few weeks later. The chief on the right was sketched a few days after the first. The American in the center is a squatter, someone that lives on land owned by someone else until he is asked to leave. He lived by hunting."
    11. Show the sketch of pine barrens. "This is the sketch that we looked at earlier with Hall's description of Alabama forests that he called pine barrens. Why is this picture important to the growth of Alabama?" (People became familiar with the resources of Alabama.) "Now, Alabama is one of the most heavily forested states in the country. And the southern long-leaf pine has even been named as our state tree. What products are made from Alabama trees?" (paper, lumber to build houses and furniture, tar, resin) "What is a negative consequence of heavy foresting?" (environment, animal habitats) "What is a way to help our forests?" (plant more trees)
    12. Analyze the sketches through discussion. Texture, details, balance, unity, and variety should be examined. Some questions could include the following: "Can you see the texture of the tree bark?" (no) "Is Hall concerned with texture?" (no) "Does he sketch each leaf of the tree?" (no) "Is detail important to this artist in the sketches?" (no) "How does Hall utilize balance? Are the sketches symmetrical or asymmetrical?" (symmetrical) "Does he focus on unity or variety?" (unity)
    13. "We are going to share the surroundings of our school like Hall shared his view of America. When we go outside, what materials will we need?" (paper, pencil, eraser, clipboard) "How should we properly use these materials?"
    14. "Let's sketch our surroundings in the style of Basil Hall. Don't focus on the details or texture. You don't need to sketch every brick or every pine cone, but do balance your work with symmetry and unity." 
    15. Allow sufficient time for students to sketch an outdoor scene around the school. It can be a landscape, another building or city scene, or a residential area. 


    1. Display the map of Basil Hall's exploration route. Ask students to identify Alabama and show the path of his travels. Students should detail his route along waterways, including the Alabama River. Students may need to reference a current Alabama map that identifies the names of the rivers.
    2. Compare and contrast student sketches with the pine barren sketch of Basil Hall. "How did Hall describe the forests of Alabama?" ("vast ocean of trees," "as far as the eye could reach") "Look at your sketch. How is it different from Hall's sketch? How is it the same? How has the environment changed? Why has it changed? Do we still live in areas where resources are readily available?" Encourage students to use art vocabulary like texture, details, balance, variety, and unity. 
    3. "Think about the environment when Native Americans lived across Alabama. How is your sketch different from the landscape at that time? Why are Native Americans no longer living in all areas of the state?" (Native Americans were forcibly removed from their lands, so that settlers could take the land for farming.) "Why are waterways so important during this time?" (travel, farming, food, water)
    4. In groups of 3-5 students, students will look at one sketch at a time from the group. Ask the following questions and remind students that negative comments are not allowed: "What did you notice first about the sketch? Why do you notice that? What feeling do you get by looking at the sketch? How did the artist use details, texture, balance, and unity and variety? How is the sketch the same or different from Basil Hall's sketch?" 

    Assessment Strategies

    Before the lesson, the 3-2-1 strategy assesses student comprehension. During the lesson, the teacher will assess student learning through questioning, discussion, and observation. The teacher will review and reassess as needed. Summative assessment consists of the collaborative critique. A written self-critique can also be used for summative assessment. One example can be found at Teachers Pay Teachers.



    • Provide additional time to complete the environmental sketch.
    • Seat struggling students with stronger artists.
    • Encourage struggling students to focus on one aspect of the environment. For example, sketching a tree instead of an entire landscape.

    Approximate Duration

    Total Duration

    31 to 60 Minutes

    Background and Preparation


    Teachers should have technology prepared before the lesson begins and be familiar with the content of the lesson. The Encyclopedia of Alabama contains more useful information on the Forest Products Industry in Alabama and Longleaf Pine Forest Ecosystem.  Basil Hall's Forty Etchings can be found as a PDF at the Library of Congress and a biography of Basil Hall can be found in the Encyclopedia Britannica. Students should have knowledge of reading maps and be familiar with art principles and basic drawing techniques.

    The teacher can review the texts listed in the Bibliography for additional background information.

    Materials and Resources

    Technology Resources Needed

    • Computer
    • Projector
    • Internet Access
    • Audio Playback Capabilities