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The Parents' Review

A Monthly Magazine of Home-Training and Culture

Edited by Charlotte Mason.

"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."
Notes of Lessons.

Volume 14, 1903, pgs. 469-470

[We have thought that it might be of use to our readers (in their own families) to publish from month to month during the current year, Notes of Lessons prepared by students of the House of Education for the pupils of the Practising School. We should like to say, however, that such a Lesson is never given as a tour de force, but is always an illustration or an expansion of some part of the children's regular studies (in the Parents' Review School), of some passage in one or other of their school books.—Ed.]

Subject: Design.

Division: Art. Class IV. Average age: 16. Time: 40 minutes.

By D. Smyth.


I. To give the children an idea of how to fill a space decoratively, basing the design on a given plant.

II. To show them that good ornament is taken from nature, but a mere copy of nature to decorate an object is not necessarily ornamental.

III. To give them an appreciation for good ornament and help them to see what is bad.

IV. To draw out their originality by letting them make designs for themselves.

V. If possible to give them a taste for designing by giving them some ideas as to its use.


Step I.—Ask the children what is meant by a design.

Step II.—After getting from them as much as possible, explain to them that a design is not a mere copy from nature, although it should be true to nature; make them see this by simply copying a plant in a required space to be designed (let this space be for a book cover). It will look meaningless and uninteresting, and does not fill the space, therefore it will not be ornamental. Then show the children that a design requires thought and invention in arranging it to ornament the object. In the case of the book cover, the flower must be designed to fill the space in some orderly pattern, and should be massed in good proportion. Give a few examples of this by illustrations on the board, and show them a book with a design upon it.

Step III.—Point out to them that the most beautiful designs and those that have had the most thought spent upon them are the most simple. Show examples of this in Greek Ornament—Greek Honeysuckle, Egg and Dart Moulding.

Step IV.—Tell the pupils that you wish them to make a design for a linen book cover, 7 in. by 5 in., and if they have not time to finish to go on with it at home, and, if they like, to carry the design out practically, to transfer it to linen and work it.

Step V.—Show the children the flower from which they are to take their design and point out its characteristics—the general growth of the plant, the curves which it makes, the form of the flower and leaves and the way the leaves are joined to the central stem; these characteristics should not be lost sight of, but be made use of in giving character to the design, and treated as simply as possible.

Step VI.—Let them begin their designs first of all by construction lines, and then clothe them with flowers and leaves, seeing that the masses are in good proportion. If time permits, the design could be tinted in two colours, one for the background representing the linen, and the other for the pattern upon it.

Step VII.—Suggest to them different ways in which they can make use of design in making simple patterns for their handicrafts, such as leather work, wood-carving and brass work.

Proofread by Leslie Noelani Laurio, November 2008