Folk-Art Weathervanes

Folk-Art Weathervanes lesson plan

Step back in time to create your own modern version of Americana! Use your knowledge about types of lines, too.

  • 1.

    Investigate examples of traditional American Folk Art, especially pictures and the history of weathervanes and whirligigs. Whirligigs were created primarily for amusement, but weathervanes were placed on top of most buildings in the late 1880s to show wind direction. That information helped farmers decide what to do on a particular day. Symbols such as roosters and horses are often found on weathervanes. Find the stories behind these symbols.

  • 2.

    Draw your weathervane on Crayola Color Explosion™ paper with the color-reveal markers. Outline your symbol and wind-direction arrows on the top half of the paper. The base of the weathervane goes below it, and contains the four wind-direction letters. Let your drawing dry before continuing.

  • 3.

    To decorate your design, try different value techniques that are especially striking with Color Explosion. Stipple for example is when an artist creates lots of separate little dots. You can change the effects of stippling by changing the size of the dots (press harder or lighter with the marker) and by spacing the dots close together or far apart. Experiment!

  • 4.

    Another neat design technique is called crosshatch. Draw parallel straight lines. Make diagonal lines going across. Draw some close together and others farther apart. You can also make different values by adding parallel lines that are perpendicular to these lines (overlapping them). Try different effects.

  • 5.

    Compare your American Folk Art with traditional examples. Display your art and explain what your symbol means.


  • Students research the history of American Folk Art, as evidenced in weathervanes and whirligigs.
  • Students compare and contrast the traditional examples they find with their more modern drawings.
  • Students recognize and apply math terms such as diagonal, parallel, and perpendicular.


  • Display weathervane designs together, along with labels describing the symbols.
  • Mount designs on wooden dowels configured to show the directional letters. Attach them to a base of Crayola Model Magic®.
  • Investigate other examples of common American Folk Art, such as quilting. Create contemporary versions of quilts.
  • Learn more about weather and how it affects the livelihoods of farmers, fishers, construction workers, and other outdoor workers.
  • Assessment: Students are successful if they create a figure in half of their paper, incorporate art techniques such as stipple and crosshatch, and use the bottom of the paper to create a base that includes the four directional letters.