Educators Smithsonian Education
Winter Party: By Utagawa Toyoharu
Lesson Plan 3

  • Identify the uses of screens.
  • Create a miniature folding screen inspired by Japanese examples.


  • Copies of Take-HomeĀ Pages 1 and 2.
  • Construction paper or plain stock paper.
  • Photographs or slides of Japanese screens (see Resources page for reference books).
  • Pens, pencils, or markers.

Art, social studies


Tell your students that they'll now be studying the unique art form of Japanese screens. Give each student a copy of Take-Home Page 1 and ask them to carefully study the photograph. (You may also wish to display other screen images from reference books.) Be sure to stress that the type of screen (byobu) reproduced on Take-Home Page 1 comprises a series of six folding, paper panels framed in wood and measuring about one and one-half meters (about five feet) high and three and one-half meters(about ten and one-half feet) wide. Ask your students to think how such large, lightweight, and highly decorative folding objects might have been used in a traditional Japanese home. Explain that a traditional Japanese home had only one or two stories, no basement, and relatively little floor space. Stress that this limited area often had to serve as a living room, dining room, and bedroom. (If students need a further hint, ask them to think about how a school gymnasium or auditorium might be temporarily converted for use by a number of different classes.) Answers may vary, but students will probably conclude that screens served as partitions between functional areas in a traditional Japanese home and could be moved easily to divide existing space in a variety of ways according to different circumstances.

2. Using the photograph on Take-Home Page 1 and additional images from reference books, direct your students to look carefully at the themes depicted in screen artwork. Ask them to describe generally what they see. Emphasize that screens often show seasonal landscapes and stories from literature, as well as tigers, dragons, deities, and even ghosts.

3. Give each student a copy of Take-Home Page 2. Tell your students that they'll now make their own miniature screen, inspired by the Japanese art form. Ask them to follow the directions on Take-Home Page 2 to create a miniature four-panel screen. Stress that they can decorate their screens in a number of different ways (e.g., a story could be told across the four panels, each panel could feature a different decorative design, or the panels could depict a composite landscape).

4. After students have completed Take-Home Page 2, ask them to explain their designs to the class. What did they depict in their screens? Where would they place their screen (e.g., in a dining area, living room, or bedroom) if it was as large as a traditional byobu?

Required Materials

Pages 1 and 2

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