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Irresistibly Retro Glasses

Styles go in and out of fashion. Take a closer look at another time period and recreate a once-fashionable look in eyewear. History has never been so much fun!

  • Grade 5
    Grade 6
    Grades 7 and 8
  • 60 to 90 Minutes
  • Directions

    1. Calling something RETRO merely means returning to a style, a look from before. Ask students to identify their favorite time period, style wise. Would you want to wear pointy, cat’s eyes glasses from the Fifties or the big, geometric shapes lens of the Seventies? Provide students with magazines, movies, family pictures, or other images from the era to become familiar with its style. Have any styles returned parents’ or grandparents’ lifetimes?
    2. Students sketch a pair of life-size or larger glasses—regular glasses or sunglasses—with Crayola Erasable Colored Pencils. Remind students to draw a bridge for your nose as well as the temples to hook around your ears. Create separate pieces or make the glasses all in one. When satisfied with the historic look, draw the glasses on white Crayola Color Explosion™ Paper. Cut out the glasses with Crayola Scissors.
    3. Students use the white Color Explosion™ Marker to decorate the frames with surprising colors. Add details such as rims and trim with the black marker. For some eras, you’ll want to add Glitter Glue for sparkle. Air-dry the glitter glue.
    4. Glue any separate pieces together. Air-dry the glue.
    5. Students share their retro glasses with classmates. See if anyone can identify the era where these styles were popular. Identify events from those same eras. Do the eyewear styles in any way reflect their times of popularity?
  • Standards

    LA: Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.

    LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions with diverse partners on grade level topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.

    LA: Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, using formal English when appropriate to task and situation.

    SS: Describe ways in which language, stories, folktales, music, and artistic creations serve as expressions of culture and influence behavior of people living in a particular culture.

    SS: Demonstrate an ability to use correctly vocabulary associated with time such as past, resent, future, and long ago; read and construct simple timelines; identify examples of change.

    SS: Identify and use various sources for reconstructing the past, such as documents, letters, diaries, maps, textbooks, photos, and others.

    VA: Intentionally take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance communication of experiences and ideas

    VA: Select and use the qualities of structures and functions of art to improve communication of ideas.

  • Adaptations

    Possible classroom resources include: 100 Years of Fashion by Cally Blackman; Fashion 101: A Crash Course in Clothing by Erika Stadler; Children's Fashions 1900-1950 As Pictured in Sears Catalogs by JoAnn Olian; Everyday Fashions, 1909-1920, As Pictured in Sears Catalogs by JoAnn Olian; Everyday Fashions of the Thirties As Pictured in Sears Catalogs by Stella Blum; Everyday Fashions of the Sixties As Pictured in Sears Catalogs by JoAnn Olian; Fashion Sourcebooks: The 1960s by John Peacock

    Since ancient times people have worn glasses for function as well as fashion. Ancient Chinese people thought sunglasses were a good way to hide one's expression from others. Trace the evolution of eyeglasses over time. What are some ways historians are able to place such accessories in time?

    Invite an optometrist to meet with the class to discuss the profession, as well as the history of eye glasses. Discuss the science used in manufacturing prescription lenses and frames for glasses and sunglasses. How were lenses and their frames invented? What materials have been and are still used to make them? After the meeting, students post learning to a class blog.

    Students investigate fashion mavens of post decades. Organize research into an electronic format for presentation to classmates. When presenting, students dress in era-appropriate clothing representing the fashion maven's designs.

    Individually, students create a collage of a self-selected time period. Present the completed collage to classmates for identification of the time period. Display collages as a timeline on a classroom bulletin board. Students comment on the evolution of fashion to present-day.


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