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Wildflower Lampshades


Grade level: middle and high school

Paradise Inn in Mt. Rainer National Park has a rustic architectural style that uses the natural surroundings as a basis for its design. The lodge, built in 1916, was constructed with local materials such as Alaskan cedar logs, cedar shingles, and a native rock foundation. The lodge's interior maintains the same rustic style as the exterior with exposed cedar beams, posts, and trusses; hickory and cedar furniture; and western décor. Viewers learn from the video, Great Lodges of the National Parks: Pacific NW Lodges, that in the 1930's, inn employees replaced the original Japanese lanterns with hand-painted parchment shades. These in turn were replaced by Dale C. Thompson, with the current conical shades. Thompson retained the feel of the original western motif by painting these shades with wildflowers that grow in the Mt. Rainer area.

In this lesson, students will research the Mt. Rainer wildflowers and paint their own lampshades for display in the school's halls and library. By painting their own lampshades, students will recreate the sense of history of the lodge, gain an appreciation for the beauty of Mt. Rainer, and understand why the artisans wanted to memorialize its beauty in their artwork. This allows them the opportunity to capture the feeling of pride, care, and responsibility for a national landmark that the restoration instilled in the employees of the lodge in the 1930's.

    Students will:
  • Research the wildflowers of the Mt. Rainer National Park
  • Select at least four flowers to investigate and paint
  • Design and paint a lampshade that incorporates these flowers in a aesthetically pleasing composition.

National Standards:

National Social Studies Standards

Standard 2:
People, Places, and Environments
The study of people, places, and human-environment interactions assists learners as they create their spatial views and geographic perspectives of the world. Today's social, cultural, economic, and civic demands on individuals mean that students will need the knowledge, skills, and understanding to ask and answer questions such as: Where are things located? Why are they located where they are?

National Standards for Arts Education: Visual Arts

Standard 4:
Understanding the visual arts in relation to history and culture
Students know and compare the characteristics of artworks in various eras and cultures.

Standard 6:
Making connections between visual arts and other disciplines
Students describe ways in which the principles and subject matter of other disciplines taught in the school are interrelated with the visual arts.

National Science Education Standards (Middle School)

Standard C: Populations and ecosystems

National Geography Standards

Standard 8:
The geographically educated person understands the characteristics and spatial distribution of ecosystems on Earth's surface.

  • Small white lampshades purchased from a discount department store or brought to school by the students.
  • Tempura paint of a variety of colors
  • Pencils and paper
  • Index cards
  • Great Lodges of the National Parks: Pacific NW Lodges (PBS video)

    Start with: beginning of tape
    End with: Paradise Inn represents an early attempt to provide comfortable accommodations inside a national Park.

    Start with: In 1916 the Rainer National Park Company was formed, and work began on Paradise Inn.
    End with: You have the massive stone fireplaces that came from the mountain and represent the mountain and the massive geological elements.

    Start with: The inn features two types of lampshades in the main hall.
    End with: It leaves me with a good feeling.

    Start with: The Park has a lot of variety.
    End with: Its rustic charm complements the Park experience.

  • Yarn
  • Scotch tape


No special preparation is needed

  • Begin a class discussion on state and national Parks. Ask the class what features they think of when they think of a Park. Ask if anyone has ever stayed in a lodge at a Park, and if so, to describe the lodge to the class. Have them describe the furniture, artwork, and design of the lodge.
  • Tell the students that the architects of the national Park lodges were very careful to design the buildings so that they blended into the scenery of the Park. The furniture in the lodges was usually very rustic looking in order to bring the feeling of the "great outdoors" inside. One way the designers did that was to include scenic paintings, local crafts, and fixtures that contained artistic elements of the local flora and fauna.
  • Ask the class for ideas about their own local arts, crafts, scenery, flora, and fauna that they might incorporate into the decoration of a new lodge nearby if they were the designer/architect.
  • Explain that they are about to watch a video on the construction and restoration of Paradise Inn, Mt Rainer National Park. As they watch the video, students are to pay particular attention to the ways in which the natural beauty of the surrounding area was incorporated into the construction and furnishings of the lodge. They are to jot these on a piece of paper as they view the video.
  • After the video, have the students share what they wrote on their lists. Write their ideas on the board, and add any that were left out. Be sure that the students noted the use of local wildflowers in the design of the lampshades.
  • Divide the class into pairs and explain that they are to peruse the provided books and select at least four wildflowers that they would like to paint on their own lampshades.
  • On separate index cards, students will then write an explanation of each wildflower that includes the flower's common name, scientific name, family name, short description (height, leaves, size and color of flowers), habitat, geographic range, and when they flower.
  • Students will need to practice sketching each flower on paper until they feel comfortable sketching it on the lampshade. They will also need to decide how they will arrange the flowers on the lampshade, sketch this arrangement, and use it as a basis for their final design.
  • Review each team's design before they start to paint the lampshade to be sure that the design will be aesthetically pleasing and will cover the whole lampshade. Once they receive the teacher's consent, students can then begin to lightly sketch their design on their shade and then paint it accordingly.
  • Punch a hole at the top of the index cards and tie a short length of yarn through the hole. Tape the other end of the yarn to the bottom inside edge of the lampshade. Space the cards around the lampshade evenly and hang in the hall and/or library.
  • To further understand wildflowers and their range, conduct a lesson on indigenous vs. non-native plant species from the PBS site
Assessment Suggestions:
  • Participation in class discussion of video
  • Ability to work cooperatively with partner
  • Accuracy of information about each flower
  • Completion of the final product
  • Divide the class into three groups to paint a class mural of Mt. Rainer National Park: background group that will paint the mountains and trees; a group that will paint the lodge, lawn, and driveway; and a foreground group that will paint a meadow or other foreground that includes the wildflowers from the lampshades.
  • Research wildflowers of your local area and plant a wildflower garden

Printed Material:

Blackwell, L.R., Wildflowers of Mount Rainer

Ross, R. A., and Chambers, H. L., 1988, Wildflowers of the Western Cascades

Stewart, C., 1994, Wildflowers of the Olympics and Cascades

Taylor, R.J., and Douglas, G.W., Mountain Plants of the Pacific Northwest; a Field Guide to Washington, Western British Columbia, and Southeastern Alaska