What a Dreamy Unit: How dreams and nightmares describe our lives

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What a Dreamy Unit: How dreams and nightmares describe our lives


Nightmares & Dreams


“Wow! That test was a nightmare.” “That chocolate cake looks so dreamy.” Even though dreams and nightmares are commonly associated with sleeping, dreams and nightmares can also describe life when we are awake. The term “dream” can be used to describe something that is aesthetically pleasing, a goal, or an event that fulfills a wish. The term “nightmare” can describe an experience, a situation, or an object that causes anxiety or fear.
In this unit, learners will be exploring the use of dreams and nightmares in the English language. Learners will analyze numerous artworks and will determine possible situations they could describe using “dream” and “nightmare”. Learners will then reflect on their own personal experiences to not only compose a written personal narrative describing a “dream” or “nightmare”, but learners will also create a series of photographs symbolizing and illustrating the event.


Molly D. Chance


1. CMA 1999.16
- Moonlight, Ralph Albert Blakelock, 1883-1898, oil on canvas
2. CMA 1994.13
- Bottoming Out Vase, Brent Kee Young, 1989, blown and encased flame worked glass


Handheld Art


Columbia Museum of Art

Unit Plan Item Type Metadata


11 classes


Visual Arts Standards:
1. VA8-1.2 Describe ways that different materials, techniques, and processes evoke different responses in one who is creating or viewing artworks.
2. VA8-1.4 Use art materials and tools in a safe and responsible manner.
3. VA8-2.2 Discuss the ways that the visual arts are able to communicate ideas.
4. VA8-2.3 Select elements and principles of design to create artworks with a personal meaning.
5. VA8-3.2 Select and use subject matter, symbols, ideas, and the elements and principles of design to communicate meaning through his or her art making.
6. VA8-3.3 Discuss the ways that choices of subject matter, symbols, and ideas combine to communicate meaning in his or her works of visual art.

Integrated CCSS:
1. 8-4.1 Organize written works using prewriting techniques, discussions, graphic organizers, models, and outlines.
2. 8-4.2 Use complete sentences in a variety of types (including simple, compound, and complex sentences) in writing.
3. 8-4.6 Edit for the correct use of written Standard American English including, punctuation, semicolons, commas to enclose appositives and commas to separate introductory clauses and phrases.
4. 8-4.7 Spell correctly using Standard American English.
5. 8-5.3 Create written descriptions using precise language and vivid details.


1. The learners will define the terms “dream” and “nightmare” and will describe how they are used in the English language.
2. The learner will analyze the works of artists and will describe how these artworks could reflect a “dream” or “nightmare”.
3. The learner will create a written personal narrative describing an event that could be considered a “dream or “nightmare”.
4. The learner will use photography to create a series of photographs reflecting and illustrating their written personal narrative.


- Pencils and erasers
- Lined notebook paper
- Construction paper (concept map)
- Markers
- Access to computers
- Digital cameras
- Variety of props

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