Joseph Cornell Lesson Plan

Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

Who was Joseph Cornell and how did he set himself apart in the art world? This lesson plan uses a text lesson to explain the artist's life and career. An activity inspires students to create a shadowbox in the style of Joseph Cornell.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • list key events in the life and career of Joseph Cornell
  • explain the art genres that inspired Joseph Cornell's artwork
  • summarize key works by Joseph Cornell


2 to 2.5 hours

Curriculum Standards


Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; provide an accurate summary of the text distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.


Follow precisely a multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks.


Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 6-8 texts and topics.


Integrate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text with a version of that information expressed visually (e.g., in a flowchart, diagram, model, graph, or table).


Compare and contrast the information gained from experiments, simulations, video, or multimedia sources with that gained from reading a text on the same topic.


  • Several images demonstrating the artwork of Joseph Cornell
  • Full color paper copies of the text lesson Joseph Cornell: Biography, Art & Quotes, one for each student
  • A video clip of Joseph Cornell's Nymphlight
  • A worksheet created using the quiz from the associated text lesson, one for each student
  • Assorted types of paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • A selection of found objects
  • Shoeboxes
  • Plastic wrap

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