Animal Crackers


Unit Overview

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by Mary Erickson, Ph.D., with Arizona artist and art teacher Jasen Evoy
This unit is a series of lesson plans designed in conjunction with the Animal Crackers exhibition at the Gallery at Tempe Center for the Arts.

Preview the Animal Crackers exhibition PowerPoint


  • Theme in Life: Throughout human existence people have lived around and with animals.
  • Theme in Art: Many artists have chosen animals as their subject matter.

Key Questions
Lessons approach the themes through three key questions.

1. How can I get ideas for my art from the natural world?


2. How are complex shapes and forms made up of smaller, simpler shapes and forms?


3. How can I transform a traditional, functional object into a lively new one? (secondary only)



Community Connections
The diversity of natural environments in the Southwest is home to a great variety of animals from mountain sheep in the high country to Gila monsters in the low desert. Coyotes, roadrunners, cactus wrens, rattlesnakes, scorpions, geckos and pronghorns not only survive but thrive in Arizona’s wild places. Other animals, like horses, cows, greyhounds, cats and goldfish live here only because of their relationships with people.



Additional Website Resource
Phoenix Zoo

Student access to the internet and a printer or, alternatively, a collection of printed images of animals in books, magazines or Internet printouts.

Secondary Clay Project

  • Clay facilities (clay, clay tools, kiln, glazes, etc.)
  • Sketch paper and pencils

Secondary Paper Project

  • Undecorated paper or cardboard containers (small boxes, shopping bags, paper cups, cupcake cups, etc.)
  • Scissors
  • Transparent Tape
  • Sketch paper and pencils

Elementary Paper Project

  • Collection of printed images of animals in books, magazines, or Internet printouts
  • Pencils or markers
  • Construction Paper
  • Glue

Mask Project Option

  • Paper masks or small paper plates with cut-out eye holes
  • Self-adhesive Foamie sheets or pre-cut shapes (OPTIONAL)

Animal Vessels by Jasen Evoy’ advanced ceramics students at Marcos di Niza High School
Photography by Mary Erickson, Nancy Egly, Kathy David and Faith Clover

Estimated Time
Pre-visit Lesson = 20-60 minutes
TCA Visit Lesson = Field Trip
Secondary Post-visit Lesson = 500-800 minutes
Elementary Post-visit Lesson = 50-100 minutes