REMEMBRANCE DAY POPPY – Inspired by Georgia O’Keeffe

Students use the work of American artist Georgia O'Keeffe as inspiration for the creation of an oil pastel drawing of a poppy for Remembrance Day.

Required Time

60 Minutes

Grade Level

Grade 3 to Grade 9


Language Arts
Social Studies
Visual Arts
Media Literacy


contrast negative space symbol warm colours


Crayola Construction Paper - Black - 22.9 cm x 30.5 cm (9" x 12") Crayola Oil Pastels Crayola Sketchbooks Pencils Erasers

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REMEMBRANCE DAY POPPY – Inspired by Georgia O’Keeffe - Step One

Step One

  1. View poppies painted by Georgia O'Keefe.
  2. Notice how she uses colour and space.
    - close-up view 
    - cropped image
    - gently rounded corners
    - bright, bold colour
    - colours glow
  3. Make a plan drawing inspired by Georgia O'Keeffe's ideas.
REMEMBRANCE DAY POPPY – Inspired by Georgia O’Keeffe - Step Two

Step Two

  1. Use a pencil to outline the main shapes of your poppy on a piece of black construction paper.
  2. Blend warm colours of oil pastel to create glowing petals.
    - red
    - red-orange
    - orange
    - yellow-orange
REMEMBRANCE DAY POPPY – Inspired by Georgia O’Keeffe - Step Three

Step Three

  1. Add text to the drawing.
  2. View your work with fresh eyes.
  3. How have you made Georgia O'Keefe's style your own?

Learning Goals

Students will be able to:

  • create an oil pastel drawing of a poppy in the style of Georgia O'Keeffe;
  • use cultural symbolism to communicate a message;
  • explain the use of cultural symbolism in their work;
  • blend warm colours to create the illusion of depth;
  • demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity; 
  • support their ideas with evidence found in the works. 


Have students:

  • work with others to create a video that explains the symbolism of the poppy for Remembrance Day, and how their drawing of a poppy was inspired by Georgia O'Keeffe;
  • share their videos with the class.


  1. Download images of poppies from the Internet, for example,
    Cenotaph Mural
    Horned Poppy
  2. Download and display the Contrast, Space, and Colour posters available on this website.
  3. Gather and make available books about Remembrance Day, for example, Proud as a Peacock, Brave as a Lion, by Jane Barclay, and Renne Benoit; A Poppy Is to Remember, by Heather Patterson, and Ron Lightburn; What Does Peace Feel Like? by Vladimir Radunsky; Remembrance Day, by Molly Aloian; In Flanders Fields: The Story of the Poem by John McCrae, by Linda Granfield, and Janet Wilson; and A Bear in War, by Stephanie Innes, Harry Endrulat, and Brian Deines.
  4. Review Remembrance Day information available at the Canadian War Museum.
  5. Preview the John McCrea Heritage Minute at the Historica Canada website.
  6. Preview the information about John McCrea at The Soldier Behind In Flanders Fields.
  7. Gather background information about John McCrae available on the Canadian Encyclopedia website.
  8. Gather and make available books about Georgia O'Keefe, for example, Georgia O'Keeffe (Revised Edition) (Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists), by Mike Venezia; Georgia O'Keefe: One Hundred Flowers, by Georgia O'Keeffe; Through Georgia's Eyes, by Rachel Victoria Rodriguez; Georgia in Hawaii: When Georgia O'Keeffe Painted What She Pleased, by Amy Novesky, and Yuyi Morales; and My Name Is Georgia: A Portrait, by Jeanette Winter, by Jeanette Winter.
  9. Download the image of the Georgia O'Keeffe commemorative stamp from the Smithsonian National Postal Museum website.
  10. Prior to this lesson you may want to have students experiment with oil pastels using the Exploring Oil Pastel lesson plan available on this website.


  1. View and discuss the John McCrae Heritage Minute.
  2. Discuss the use of symbolism to convey cultural meanings.
    - cultural symbols represent something that people in that country feel are important about the country, or part of the country
    - poppies are the symbol used for remembering the sacrifice and service of soldiers in Canada, USA, Great Britain and the Commonwealth countries 
    - each country has a specific design for the symbolic poppy
  3. View and discuss a cropped poppy image – use a cardboard viewfinder to zoom in on it until the petals are touching the sides of the viewfinder.
  4. Ask students to consider why anyone would draw a poppy from this point of view.
  5. View and discuss images of O'Keeffe's flowers found in books or online.
  6. Identify characteristics of her style.
    - close-up view 
    - cropped image
    - gently rounded corners
    - bright, bold colour
    - colours glow
  7. View Georgia O'Keeffe's poppy stamp and discuss why she is considered such an important artist.
    - painted in her own way
    - she took the ideas of other artists and made them her own
    - her work was new and different at the time
    - she was one of the first artists to paint objects that were cropped and highly detailed yet abstract
    - known mostly for her large close-up paintings of flowers 
    - was 98 years old when she died
  8. You might want to conduct a read-aloud with the book, Through Georgia's Eyes, by Rachel Victoria Rodriguez.
  9. Introduce the challenge.


The Challenge

  1. Create an oil pastel drawing of a poppy in the style of Georgia O'Keeffe.
  2. Use cultural symbolism to communicate a message.
  3. Explain the use of cultural symbolism in their work.
  4. Blend warm colours to create the illusion of depth.
  5. Demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity.
  6. Support their ideas with evidence found in the works. 

The Process

  1. Make sure everyone understands the challenge.
  2. Establish success criteria with your students, for example,
    I know I am successful when I have:
    - used the elements of design effectively to communicate a message
    - made the visual message clear and easy to understand
    - made the poppy close-up
    - blended warm colours
    - used contrast to make the colours glow
    - explained the reasons for my design choices
    - explained the cultural symbolism in my composition
    - kept the paper is in good condition
  3. Guide students through the steps outlined in this lesson plan.
  4. Observe students as they work. 
  5. Provide individual assistance and encouragement.


  1. Place students into small groups. 
  2. Ask them to: 
    - share their work and discuss the things that are especially effective and why;
    - talk about what they found satisfying about making this drawing and why.
  3. Share ideas with the whole class. 
  4. Ask students to tell how they felt about doing this project.


  1. Observe students as they work – thoughtful focus, discriminating, seeking more information, elaborating, experimenting.
  2. Observe students as they discuss the artworks – active listening, insightful contributions, supporting ideas with evidence found in the artwork and from personal experience.
  3. Use a checklist to track progress. (Downloads – Poppy_tracking.pdf)
  4. Have students use the self-assessment form to evaluate their work. (Downloads – Poppy_self-assessment.pdf)