Dollhouse Connections

Presented by: Mary Beth Bauernschub

Subject Area(s):

Grade Level(s):


Students listen to a piece of literature and connect it to a work of art. They identify hidden details in a three-dimensional piece of art. Selections from Coraline are read and connections are made with Dollhouse, the three-dimensional piece of art. Students make a plan for a piece of three-dimensional art by using the literature and artwork examples as inspiration. Students create a piece of work in the style of Miriam Shapiro. Students reflect on their understanding of their piece of art and how it compares to Shapiro’s Dollhouse by writing a blog entry.



Laminated copies of Dollhouse and close-up shots of each room (see SM1_Dollhouse)

Selections from Neil Gaiman’s Coraline copies (enough for each student)

·       p. 8 "Can I go into the drawing room...It was only for the best."

·       p. 18 "Yes programs in frames."

·       p.27 "The carpet beneath...what exactly was different."

·       p.30 "It was different...This is more like it, said Coraline."

·       p.108 "There was no furniture...tugged upward as hard as she could." 


Podcast of Dollhouse description (See script SM2_Dollhouse)

Direct link to Dollhouse image @

Diorama Checklist (see SM3_Dollhouse)

LCD projector
Laptop with Internet connections, speakers, and microphone



Magnifying glasses, pencils

Post-it notes, several for each student



Art Image: Dollhouse by Miriam Shapiro and Sherry Brody accessed from:         

Literature Selection: Gaiman, Neil. Coraline. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 2002. 


Day 1 – Library Lesson

Direct Instruction: 

·         TL warms class up by handing out Post-its and pencils.  Instruct students to close their eyes and visualize a dollhouse.  After about 30 seconds, ask students to draw the dollhouse that they saw and write one word or phrase to describe it.  Allow 3 minutes for this activity.  Have students share their images and words with each other. 

·         TL explains that the class will look at a piece of art called Dollhouse while listening to a podcast; they should listen for some directed questions and take notes of observations on their post-its.

·         Together the class will listen to the podcast and view images of the artwork on screen or whiteboard.

Modeling and guided practice:

·         TL leads a discussion by asking students to share their observations.

·         TL passes out copies of a paragraph from Coraline and discusses the visual connections between Dollhouse and the text.


Independent practice:

·         Students receive: additional passages from text, copies of Dollhouse rooms, post-its, pencils, and magnifying glasses.

·         Students read the passages and identify three connections that they find between the text and an image.  Notes are made on the post-its identifying connections.

·         Students hang up their copies of artwork with notes attached.


Sharing and reflecting:


Day 2 – Art Connection

(This part of lesson could be done in collaboration with an art teacher, or it can be completed as a take-home assignment.)


Direct Instruction: 

·         TL reviews the previous lesson by highlighting some of the notes students took and connections they made between Coraline and Dollhouse.

·         Art teacher introduces the concept of making a diorama and hands out planning worksheet (diorama template)


Modeling and guided practice:

·         Art teacher reviews template, shows example and gives directions. 

·         For diorama, students need to bring in:

1.      Shoe box

2.      Small found items like game pieces, mini toys, old broken costume jewelry, or things that will fit inside a shoe box

3.      Bring something that:

a.       Scares

b.      Comforts

c.       Represents family heritage

d.      A living thing

e.       Something that could represent a mini piece of furniture


Independent practice

·         Students complete planning template for dioramas with rooms labeled and materials planned.


Day 3

Independent practice

·         Students construct dioramas using planning template and materials brought from home.

 Sharing and reflecting:

·         Students share dioramas with class. 

·         Students must post a blog to a specified web location that represents a personal reflection about the room they created.  Written reflections will be reviewed by TL and shared with classroom teachers.

Supporting Files: