Learn about the new Armillary Sphere Teachers Guide

By Ann Brown, Director of Arts Education –

ArmillarySphereTeachersGuide-cvrIn 2014, the Governor and First Lady Haslam commissioned an Armillary Sphere Sundial to be located in the Kitchen and Cutting Garden at the Tennessee Residence. The Kitchen and Cutting Garden was built to highlight the unique Tennessee agriculture traditions at the executive residence. The garden grows produce to serve in the home, and thousands of students and guests visit each year to learn about gardening and healthy eating.

The Armillary Sphere Sundial presents a similar inter-disciplinary opportunity to learn about science, art and identity through its rich artistic and cultural connections to Tennessee. The National Ornamental Metal Museum, located in Memphis, Tennessee, won the commission to design and install the Tennessee Armillary Sphere Sundial

The Metal Museum is the only institution in the United States devoted exclusively to the advancement of the art and craft of fine metalwork. The Metal Museum’s design of the armillary sphere uses hand-crafted bronze, copper and stainless steel that references the cutting garden by including organic shapes, insects, fruits, animals, leaves and flowers from Tennessee state symbols.

In 2015, the First lady’s office asked the Tennessee Arts Commission to develop and produce an accompanying teacher’s guide for the armillary sphere that would expand the notion of a teaching garden by including lesson plans and activities for teachers to incorporate art and storytelling into classroom curriculum. Teaching Artist, Cherri Coleman and Brandi Self, Principal of Mooreland Heights Elementary in Knox County Schools wrote the Armillary Sphere Teacher’s Guide.

Cherri Coleman keeps alive local traditions of storytelling, white oak and cane basketry while training the next generation of heritage art enthusiasts. She serves schools and museums across the state as a teaching artist and curriculum writer.

Self has been an intermediate teacher with Knox County Schools for 12 years and is the Arts360 District Coordinator for the Knox County Schools district arts integration model. She has been involved in curriculum planning on the school, district and state level.

The teacher’s guide is intended for students in grades 3-6, but the content is adaptable to older students through use of the expansions listed at the end of each lesson.

The unit is made up of six 45-minute lessons that include:

  • The entry exploration of shadow plot and sundial
  • Myth and identity
  • Symbol
  • The metalworking process
  • Field trip: the sundial as a realization of content

The lesson plan is available to download from the Tennessee Arts Education lesson plan database. To request the guide in booklet form, contact me, Ann Brown, at 615-532-5939

This article was originally published in Nashville Arts magazine, August 2016