Lesson Plan

Duane Brissette, Moonrise, 1981, acrylic

Lesson plan developed by Jeanell Dailey, Taylor Prairie Elementary School, Cottage Grove, Wisconsin

Grade Level


Summary of Activity

Students will explore the concepts of perspective and voice in both the painting, Moonrise, and in their narrative writing about the painting.

Learning Objectives

  • While looking at the painting, students will notice how moonlight effects the colors and shading Brissette used in Moonrise, and try to determine where the moon is rising to understand the concept of perspective.
  • Students will observe the painting and make predictions of what is happening in the painting.
  • Students will listen to background information about the painting and identify the main subjects in the painting.
  • Students will listen to Voices in the Park, and discuss who is telling the story in each chapter and how the perspective/voice changes.
  • Students will write a short story about the painting using the perspective of one of the main subjects or in the third person (rabbits) who is observing the event.
  • Students will listen to each other’s stories and discuss how the story changes as the point of view changes.
  • Students will illustrate part of the story showing their subject’s point of view and visual perspective.

Guiding Question

Can students view a painting or listen to a story and understand how the interpretation of the picture/story changes when the point of view changes?

Curriculum Connections

Language Arts


Chart paper, Markers, Voices in the Park, by Anthony Browne, Writing paper, Pencils, Computers (optional), White construction paper, Oil pastels, Watercolors


Tell students that we are going to use a painting by Duane Bissette to learn about perspective in the painting and how it relates to point of view and voice in their writing. They will need to focus on the subjects in the foreground and decide on which one they want base their writing. 


While observing the painting:

1. Tell students the name of the painting and ask them to determine from which direction the moon is rising and what clues in the painting they used to make their decision, e.g., brightness of color, shadows of bushes, trees, building. Ask them to consider if the pavilion and forest are close to the man or far away? How did the artist show this? Tell students that this is called perspective. Perspective is used by artists to give the illusion of distance and space. Discuss the two stories taking place, the people at a dance pavilion in the background and the man and panther in the foreground. Ask students to consider on which story the artist wants them to focus and why? 

2.  Give students the basic background information about the painting. Moonrise is the first painting in a trilogy. Prior to the scene we see depicted in Moonrise, the man has thrown a rock into the opening of a cave and disturbed a panther. In Moonrise, we see the moment when the panther has emerged from the cave and the man has realized his mistake. Ask students to close their eyes and try to visualize what the second painting might look like. In the second painting, the panther has chased and captured the man by jumping on his back. Tell students to look at the painting and think about where the panther could have chased him, for example, in the ravine, around the pavilion, in the forest, or somewhere else. Again, ask them to close their eyes to visualize what the last painting might look like. In the third painting, the panther has taken the man back to its cave. She has forgiven him because he has realized that he shouldn’t have disturbed her. They embrace as friends. 

3.  On chart paper, write three headings: man, panther, rabbits.

4.  Tell students to think about the man in the story and the feelings he would he have in each part of the trilogy. Ask them to talk with a partner, then write down their ideas on chart paper, being sure to write the feelings in chronological order for the trilogy. Do the same with the panther. Then ask, how would the story change if written from the rabbits’ perspective? The rabbitts don’t know what the other subjects are thinking or feeling, they can only interpret what they see.

5.  Tell students that when a story is told from the point of view or perspective of one of the characters, it strengthens the voice in a story. 

6.  Read the first chapter of Voices in the Park. Pause to discuss how the author used voice for the character and to describe the words he used. Read the rest of the chapters, pausing after each to discuss how the voice changes the story. Also, notice how the fonts change in each chapter. If you choose to have the students type their chapters, they can choose different fonts for their characters.

7.  Tell students that they are going to write Bissette’s story based on the perspective of one of the subjects in the painting: the man, the panther, or the rabbits. After parts are written, they will be combined in a book and shared with the class.

8.  Divide students into triads. A triad will write a chapter in a story from the perspective of the characters in Moonrise, with one child adopting the perspective of the man; another, the perspective of the panther; and another, the point of view of the rabbits. Tell students to refer to the chart paper and think about how they will choose words to include the feelings of their character. Give the groups time to discuss and plan their writing.

9.  When students are finished with their drafts, ask them to work in their triads to make sure all of the main events in their chapters are the same. Give them time to edit their writing to include all of the events. They should also decide the character order of the chapters in their final group book, e.g., panther, rabbits, man. If you are asking students to type their chapters, they would do that at this point.

10.  Remind students of how Brissette used perspective in Moonrise, making things smaller in the background and larger in the foreground, and how he portrayed cast light to show where the moon is rising. Tell them that they will be using oil pastels and watercolors to illustrate a scene from their story. They will need to include clues that show from which character’s perspective it is drawn. They should also try to represent the light from the moon in the picture. Discuss how or why they might use the oil pastels and watercolors for different effects in their illustration.

11.  When their illustrations are finished, ask each group to share their story and illustrations.  After each reading, the writers should explain why they chose the character order. The rest of the class should be able to point out the words that strengthen the voice in the story.

Common Core Standards

  • 5.RL.1. Quote accurately from a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and drawing inferences from the text.
  • 5.RL.3.  Compare and contrast two or more characters, settings, or events in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., how characters interct).
  • 5.RL.5.  Explain how a series of chapters, scenes, or stanzas fits together to provide the overall structure of a particular story, drama, or poem.
  • 5.RL.6  Describe how a narrator’s or speaker’s point of view influences how events are described.
  • 5.WT.3. Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.
  • 5.WP.4. Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience
  • 5.WP.5. With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.
  • 5.WR.10. Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences.
  • 5.S&LC.1. Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups and teacher led) with diverse partners on grade 5 topics and, texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.
  • 5.S&LC.2. Summarize a written text read aloud or information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
  • 5.S&LC.3. Summarize the points a speaker makes and explain how each claim is supported by reasons and evidence.
  • 5.L.1. Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

Wisconsin Visual Arts Standards

  • A.4.2 Learn basic vocabulary related to their study of art
  • A.4.6 Know that art is a basic way of thinking and communicating about the world
  • B.4.3 Know that works of art and designed objects relate to specific cultures, times, and places
  • B.4.4 Know that art is influenced by artists, designers, and cultures
  • B.4.6 Know basic ways to describe, analyze, interpret, and judge art images and objects from various cultures, artists,  and designers
  • C.4.7 Develop basic skills to produce quality art
  • C.4.8 Explore the natural characteristics of materials and their possibilities and limitations
  • C.4.9 Be aware of their creative processes to better understand their work
  • C.4.10 Develop personal responsibility for their learning and creative processes

Duane Brissette (American, b. 1939), Moonrise, 1981, acrylic, 21½ x 25½ inches. Purchase, through funds from Mr. and Mrs. Frederic F. Renfert. Collection of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art.

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