3rd Grade Art Lesson on Russian Architecture: Inspired by the 2014 Sochi Olympics

3rd Grade Art Lesson on Russian Architecture: Inspired by the 2014 Sochi Olympics
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Third grade students will have the opportunity to look at the rich architecture of the 2014 Olympic hosting country, Russia. Students will be able to label differences and similarities of the architecture in classroom discussions. Color, line, form, shape, pattern, emphasis, and balance are just some of the elements and principles of art that are touched on in this lesson.

Lesson Objectives:

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.1 Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.2 Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.6 Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and communicative tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.3.3 Use knowledge of language and its conventions when writing, speaking, reading, or listening.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.3.6 Acquire and use accurately grade-appropriate conversational, general academic, and domain-specific words and phrases, including those that signal spatial and temporal relationships (e.g., After dinner that night we went looking for them).

Materials Required:

  • Paper
  • Pencil
  • Black Crayon
  • Various coloring tools, colored pencil, marker, crayons, etc…
  • Watercolor paints

Lesson Procedure

1. Preface the lesson by introducing the winter Olympics, what they are, where they have come from, and what athletes do. It should then be noted that they were held in Sochi, Russia. Students should look up Russia and more particularly Sochi on a map. By doing this the students have a bit of geography integrated into their art lesson.

2. While the Olympics are being held in Sochi, it is also a perfect opportunity to look further into Russian culture by exploring the architecture of Moscow. St. Basil’s Cathedral serves as an excellent source of inspiration as it is filled with color, patterns, and various line types.

3. Discussions should be led into how to merge two ideas being, how to create a successful architecture piece and how to keep it a unique piece of work. Students should be encouraged to use bits and pieces of the structures they have seen, but to still create a piece of architecture individual to them.


4. Emphasis should be put on creating interesting line designs within the buildings, as well as creating a proportional structure. The teacher should also instruct students to utilize the paper well, and not leave too much negative space.

5. This project lends itself well to various drawing materials and I often leave this option open for students to pick what they’d like to add color with. Regardless of coloring material I make it a strict requirement that all students outline their piece with either black or the corresponding color to make their piece stand out.

6. If students choose to paint with watercolors then they must outline with black crayon to ensure that fine craftsmanship can be kept.

Extra questions to ask:

  • What time of day is it going to be at your building?
  • How can you show variety within your piece?
  • Where are you going to use repetition and pattern within your work?


Keep the assessment very informal by asking the students during the process of creating the art piece.  Students should create a good balance between the negative and positive space within their artwork. Craftsmanship, or overall neatness and precision of this piece is very important to good design so the educator will be able to visually assess whether students were successful with this element.

Third grade students often love to put themselves in the role of an ‘architect’ and love to play up the job by using specific tools to get the job done. I often encourage my students to use straight edges, and trace objects to get the precise lines they are looking for in their art.  This is a wonderful opportunity to talk about art career paths, and how art is infused with their everyday world through architecture.