An Introduction to Coast Salish Design Elements and Visual Thinking Strategies (Grade 3/4)

This series of lessons was part of a larger salmon unit for a Grade 3/4 class.  In this mini unit, students will be introduced to traditional Coast Salish design elements and how they are used to create larger shapes and images. Students will also be introduced to the practice of looking at and responding to art by using prints from the Salish Weave Box Sets and Visual Thinking Strategies.   A video link is included to assist understanding of traditional Coast Salish art styles.  After viewing and analyzing Chris Paul’s print, “Conservation” from Box Set I,  students will create their own salmon shapes using paper cutouts.  The lesson also includes suggestions for different media to use in the end activity (paint, printing ink, etc), as well as possible cross-curricular connections for extended learning.   (Lesson designed by Becky Greenhow, Cowichan School District 79).

Time required:  4 – 45 minute class sessions


At the end of these lessons, students will be able to:

  • Identify elements in the visual arts, including traditional Coast Salish design motifs (circle, oval, crescent, trigon).
  • Analyze, critique, and connect with art using visual thinking strategies.
  • Understand that symbolism is a way to create, represent, and communicate meaning.
  • Experiment with a variety of media to create a Coast Salish style salmon.