A Matter of Style: 19th Century Furniture:Language Activity
Purpose : students will use descriptive language to capture the feeling of objects based on the associa-
tions they make with the object and its style.
Illinois State Museum Web site used: http://www.museum.state.il.us/muslink/art/
Objective : students will make a list of descriptive adjectives they feel appropriate
for each of six styles of furniture. These adjectives will be based on the students'
observations of the objects, the students' personal associations, and their study of
style characteristics. They will follow up with a discussion in which they share and
Grade level: 4-8
Time required: one 50-minute period
Materials : worksheet, pencil
Motivation : Each style has characteristics that appeal to our senses and emotions. Modern car designs
make us think of speed, sportiness, convenience, or comfort. Victorian Gothic-style houses are associ-
ated with ghost stories or mysteries. Furniture styles can evoke emotions, too. In this activity you will
think of and write descriptive adjectives that capture the feeling of each style as you look at each of the
six pieces of furniture in A Matter of Style http://www.museum.state.il.us/muslink/art/htmls/ms.html.
Pass out the worksheets and go over the format and content using an example (such as a chair in the
room hard, uncomfortable, grey) that is not in A Matter of Style.
Procedure :
Students will record their ideas on the worksheet as they review each of the six furniture
styles in A Matter of Style.
They will think of and write down at least three adjectives to describe how the style of
each piece of furniture makes them feel; e.g., happy, springy, and cheerful.
They will write why they chose those adjectives under the Associations section.
Examples: It reminds me of flowers; it's big enough for a giant; it's made of curved
pieces like C's; it's like church furniture.
Publication and Closure: When students are finished writing, project a blank worksheet on the over-
head. Compare and contrast answers. Is there a consensus? All answers are acceptable if there is a valid
reason given. Discuss how some answers are more universal, and that this leads to attitudes about styles
(too fussy, too expensive to make, classic or timeless). Those who suggested different adjectives, asso-
ciations, and attitudes may be more independent in their choice of style. This could be pursued if stu-
dents are comfortable about discussing peer pressure.
Assessment : Students should included at least three adjectives under each piece of furniture on their
worksheets and at least one reason each why they chose them.
Illinois State Board of Education Standards and Goals addressed:
Language Arts: 3.A: Communicate ideas in writing to accomplish a varietiy of purposes.
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