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First Second

Sardine in Outer Space Lesson Plan

Teaching Art with Sardine in Outer Space

Grade Level: 3 — 6


Sardine in Outer Space
Emmanuel Guibert and Joann Sfar
First Second Books
ISBN-10: 1-59643-126-1


In Emmanuel Guibert and Joann Sfar’s Sardine in Outer Space, young red-headed Sardine and her pirate uncle are all that stand between the megalomaniacal Supermuscleman and world domination. Its rambunctious, high-energy artwork is a great way to introduce young readers to the Elements of Design.


Depending on the age of your students, you may choose to focus on a subset of the following six Elements of Design: Shape, Line, Texture, Color, Direction (sometimes called Movement), Size. For more information on the Elements of Design, visit here:

Your students will learn how to use the Elements of Design by examining the designs of characters in Sardine. Then, with their newly acquired knowledge, they will create their own characters.

First, ask your students to read Guibert and Sfar’s Sardine in Outer Space. This can be done as a group or individually as silent reading.

Once they’re familiar with the story and characters, discuss the personalities of the characters and how those personalities are reflected in the characters’ designs. Here are some example questions about Supermuscleman:

1. Would you want to be Supermuscleman’s friend? Why not?
2. What does Supermuscleman look like?
3. Why do you think the artist made his costume bright red?
4. What shapes can you find on Supermuscleman’s costume?
5. Why do you think the artist chose to include those shapes?

Next, introduce the Elements of Design to your students. For each of the Elements, give an example of how it is used in the story.

Finally, ask the students to take what they’ve learned and design a character of their own.