Life Doesn’t Frighten Me
Zane North Elementary School

In this lesson, Kindergarten students will be paired with high school art students. Each class will read the book Life Doesn’t Frighten Me. This book is a collaboration between Maya Angelou (poem) and Jean-Michel Basquiat (illustrations). The students will discuss their own fears and how they can overcome those fears. In the Kindergarten class, the focus will be on overcoming fears though special “super powers”. In the high school class, the discussion will be centered on fears about graduating. In both classes, we will compare our fears to those of the other class. In the end, students will discuss the fact that everyone has their own fears in life but managing those fears helps us grow as individuals.
Kindergarten students will pick their partners, or “buddies,” randomly from a hat. They will write a sentence about themselves in Kindergarten class and specify their favorite colors. The high school students will then paint a masonite panel using their buddy’s color. The Kindergarten students will draw on the panel in oil pastel. The theme for their work will be their “super power.” The work will be exchanged 3 or 4 times per class with the kindergarten students drawing in oil pastel and the high school students adding to the work in paint. Both classes will discuss respect and cooperation and art exchange “etiquette” (ex: not covering their partner’s work).

Students will:
  • collaborate with their partner to create a cooperative artwork.
  • discuss the book Life Doesn’t Frighten Me, by Maya Angelou and Jean-Michel Basquiat.
  • practice drawing and painting techniques.
  • engage in class discussion/critique.
  • use skills such as drawing and painting.
  • 12x18” masonite panels
  • acrylic paints
  • paint brushes
  • containers for water
  • oil pastels
  • large manila envelopes
  • packing tape
  • Life Doesn’t Frighten Me by Maya Angelou, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Sara Jane Boyers (Editor). (Stewart, Tabori and Chang, 1996)
  • Use packing tape to adhere manila envelopes to the back of each masonite panel. (Students may exchange notes or drawings with their buddies throughout the exchange by placing these items in the envelopes.)
  • Write names of high school students in slips of paper and place in container. Allow each kindergarten student to choose a high school name from container.
  • Send home Parent Notification Forms to Kindergarten parents.
  • In Kindergarten class, each student will write a short note to their buddy and tell them their favorite color. Insert notes into envelopes and write names on panels.
  • ead the book Life Doesn’t Frighten Me to each class and have class discussion regarding overcoming fears.
  • High school students cover front of masonite panel with acrylic paint, using their buddy’s favorite colors.
  • High school students write a note to their buddy and place in envelope. If possible, take a photograph of each child to place in envelope.
  • Kindergarten students receive their painted panels and, in oil pastel, will draw themselves with their “super power”.
  • Kindergarten students will write a short note explaining their “super power” to their buddies and place in envelopes.
  • High school students will add to the work using acrylic paint.
  • Allow each student to add to the work 3–4 times until both partners agree that work is complete. 
  • Closure:  Class discussion/critique and art exhibit.
In closing discussion, students in will be asked to complete a High School Self-Assessment Worksheet or Kindergarten Self-Assessment Worksheet to help determine if objectives have been met.