Inside: An invitation for you to join me in curating inspired classroom art connections with a FREE, online summer art teacher workshop starting August 8th!
The students are coming! Are you ready? 🙋♀️
Join me starting August 8th for a brand new, FREE, four-part art teacher workshop entitled Curated Connections.
In this video workshop, I’ll help you easily plan an entire school year worth of engaging art appreciation lessons. From the types of activities to do to the artworks to choose, we’ll cover everything you need to know in this video series.
Inside: Ten fun kinesthetic activities to help students connect with works of art.
One of the best ways for young people to connect with artworks is through movement. Exploring art with their bodies helps students connect with the art and artists by helping them clearly understand the emotions, actions, and conventions. It makes them think about the art in new ways and best of all, it’s fun! Here are some kinesthetic activities to get students moving and inspired by artworks.
N’kisi Nkondi Power Figures from the Kongo People of Western-Central Africa
1. Have students pose as the characters in a painting or sculpture and discuss how it feels.
4. Have a conversation about the artwork through only pantomime. (Gestures only — no words!)
Wassily Kandinksy, Composition 8, 1923
5. Create a dance inspired by the artwork. (This one is especially fun with abstract art!)
6. Trace the lines in an artwork with your finger in the air.
7. Get up and look at the artwork from far away, up close, down below, and from the side and notice how the artwork changes depending on where you look at it from.
8. Make the shapes in the artwork using your bodies, and work with others to make the shapes you can’t.
Pablo Picasso, Girl Before a Mirror, 1932
9. Play mirror. Have one student have their back to the artwork and one student facing the art and the other student. Have the student who can see the artwork do movements from the art, and have the one with their back to the work mirror the moving student.
10. If you have a group of students, form a line and have all the students work together to mimic the lines and shapes in the artwork.
If you want more creative games to play with kids, traditional theater games are always fun to adapt to studying art. Check out this book about theater games which includes 130 theater games, music and videos, and learning standards. It’s an amazing resource for the classroom–and not just for theater teachers!
These are Amazon affiliate links, and purchases made through these links help support the work I do for you on The Art Class Curator at no additional cost to you. Thank you!
Inside: The ultimate collection of rhythm in art, including everything from regular to random, plus a rhythm in art definition. A continuation of our Elements and Principles of Art series.
Here are some artworks you can use to teach rhythm in art examples for your elements and principles of art lessons. I will add to this list when I find more, so this is a good one to pin or bookmark! The horizontal images do not contain all of the examples.
Download the Free Elements and Principles Printable Pack
This pack of printables was designed to work in a variety of ways in your classroom when teaching the elements and principles of art. You can print and hang in your classroom as posters/anchor charts or you can cut each element and principle of art in its own individual card to use as a lesson manipulative.
Rhythm is a principle of design that suggests movement or action. Rhythm is usually achieved through repetition of lines, shapes, colors, and more. It creates a visual tempo in artworks and provides a path for the viewer’s eye to follow.
Remember I will add to this, so don’t forget to pin this post!
Do you have a great example to teach rhythm in art? Share it with me in the comments, and I will add it to the list!
Elements and Principles of Art Worksheet
The more artworks your students analyze, the more familiar they’ll be with the elements and principles of art and the easier it will be for them to implement what they learn in their own art. Use our free Art Appreciation Worksheet Bundle for go-to lessons that will take their learning to a deeper level.
Inside: Comparing and contrasting two views of motherhood in art with the work of Käthe Kollwitz and Mary Cassatt, including four free Mother’s Day worksheets.
May is the month that we turn our attention to those that bring us into this world. Our mothers.
It’s been called the hardest job, but also the most rewarding. This duality is plain in the two artworks we’re exploring: Mary Cassatt’s Reine Lefebre and Margot before a Window and Käthe Kollwitz’s Worker Woman with Sleeping Child.
Most schoolchildren will celebrate Mother’s Day by bringing home a craft from art class, a little memento of their shared love. But there is another gift we can give the mothers of our students–the gift of being seen. It is difficult for any child to see their mother as an independent person. They are mom, mommy, mama. They’ve been there from the beginning. How can a child ever see the person their mother was before they existed, the person she continues to be?
Using depictions of motherhood in art is a powerful way to bridge this gap without ever having to address it directly. Cassatt and Kollwitz have both been recognized for the way they showed motherhood in art. Mary Cassatt did not have children and said, “There’s only one thing in life for a woman; it’s to be a mother. A woman artist must be…capable of making primary sacrifices.” Käthe Kollwitz was mother to two sons, one of whom died in World War I, a loss that resonated in her work.
That is a compelling difference to share with your students as they analyze these artworks. Which artwork do they think was created by a mother? Does knowing change their interpretations?
On the left: Mary Cassatt, Reine Lefebre and Margot before a Window, c.1902 On the right: Käthe Kollwitz, Worker Woman with Sleeping Child, 1927
Comparing and Contrasting Motherhood in Art
These artworks are perfect for a classroom discussion. They are captivating on their own. One is sweet and relaxed while the other is bleak and tired. Placed side by side, a narrative of motherhood is created. Use these discussion questions to dive into these artworks with your students:
What’s going on here, and what do you see that makes you say that?
How do you think these people feel? How do you feel looking at this artwork?
How do the expressions of the people influence the mood of the two artworks?
What are they thinking about?
How are the figures united?
How did the artists use the elements and principles of art?
How do the bright, complementary colors contrast with the black and white piece? Would you feel differently if the colors were switched?
What do you notice about the lines in each of the artworks?
How does the background (or lack of one) contribute to the overall feel of the artwork?
What is the same about the two mothers? What’s different?
What is the same about the two children? What’s different?
We’ve created four worksheets that give students a chance to use their language arts skills while exploring motherhood in art.
In the Motherhood & Art narrative worksheets, students choose one of the artworks and craft a story using context clues from the artwork. You can instruct them to write from the mother’s point of view, the child’s point of view, or let them choose. When they’re done, they can read them aloud and discuss how their stories are alike and different and how they came to their conclusions.
The Compare/Contrast worksheet is a great primer for a classroom discussion or as a standalone activity for students to focus on the differences in style and mood.
Now Tweet This! is always a hit with older students. On the worksheet, they create a Twitter dialogue between the mother and daughter in Cassatt’s work, including hashtags and unique handles/usernames. Here’s more character analysis via Twitter.
Inside: Use these 9 unique school art exhibition ideas to jumpstart your school art show with art appreciation! Impress parents and admins alike!
When art show season arrives, art teachers everywhere up their caffeine intake. There’s so much to do!
Hanging more artwork.
Buying more tape.
Hanging even more artwork.
Laying flat on your hard concrete floor at 8pm with a bottle of ibuprofen.
Why Host a School Art Exhibition?
It’s so much work. If you’ve never done it before, it can be hard to know where to start and some school years, an art show feels like one thing too many on your to-do list. But nothing compares to seeing students light up when they see their work displayed. The reward of watching parents, friends, family, and other faculty see each student in a new way is worth all the extra hours.
School art exhibitions are a vital part of showing off all your hard work as a teacher and promoting the importance of arts in education overall. A successful art show does more than display your students’ creativity, it communicates the connections and deeper learning happening in your classroom everyday.
Instead of just hanging artworks students have created, try these other ideas to exhibit the in-depth, interconnected learning and art appreciation happening in your classroom on a day-to-day basis.
9 School Art Exhibition Ideas
1. Hang up the poems, creative writing, and other art interpretation work you have done. Put a color print of the focus artwork and hang the poems or other written work around it. Have students neatly write (or even type) their poems.
6. If you are doing a family art night, have an art interpretation table with art prints and templates from the worksheet bundle! Invite students to show their parents how fun it is to connect with and write about art.
Inside: A complete earthworks art lesson about The Spiral Jetty by Robert Smithson, including an earthworks definition and activity ideas.
Earthworks, also known as land art or environmental art, is an art movement that involved artists using natural materials, such as soil or vegetation, to create an artwork in the place where the materials were found. Often, earthworks art was created in difficult to reach areas far from population centers.
What are Earthworks?
Beyond the basic earthworks definition, giving students the context behind the art will help them better understand what are earthworks. There were many societal concerns that gave birth to the earthworks art movement. Earthworks became popular in the 1960s and 1970s, especially in the United States and Great Britain. This time period was marked by a social rejection of urban living and a growing desire to reconnect with the planet and rural life. Advocates of the earthworks movement sought to move beyond the commercialization of art-making. Many of the artists hoped to inspire an ecological movement with their works.
The Spiral Jetty in 1970
The Spiral Jetty
The Spiral Jetty is perhaps the most well-known earthworks art. Created by pioneer of the earthworks art movement Robert Smithson in 1970, the The Spiral Jetty is located in Great Salt Lake, Utah. To reach the location of the artwork, travelers must traverse treacherous, distant roads. Once there, they’ll find a 15 feet (4.572 m) wide and 1,500 feet (457.2 m) long coil made of black basalt rocks and sediment that weighs over 6,000 tons (more than 5443 metric tons).
The Spiral Jetty spent decades under salty water and reappeared only after the area experienced five years of drought. A crusty layer of salt now gives the black basalt rocks a white appearance.
The Spiral Jetty with someone standing in the center in 2006 Photo credit: Michael David Murphy
The strata of the Earth is a jumbled museum, embedded in the sediment is a text that contains limits and boundaries which evade the rational order, and social structures which confine art.
Earthworks Art Lesson
There are several ways to approach an earthworks art lesson about The Spiral Jetty. Students can create their own earthworks art piece, compare and contrast how earthworks art changes over time, compare earthworks art to similar art from other periods, examine the meaning of earthworks art, or all of the above!
Earthworks Art Discussion Questions
Discussing earthworks art with your students is a great way to bring some STEAM into your art classroom. Together, you can explore earth science topics like weathering, erosion, conservation, climate change, geology, and more. Here are some questions to get a discussion about The Spiral Jetty started:
What is going on here? What do you see that makes you say that?
Why would the artist create something like this?
What do you think was the artist’s meaning or message?
Is this art? Was it still art when it was submerged underwater? Why or why not?
What do you think it is made out of? How big do you think this is?
How does this differ from a sculpture made in the same material (basalt)?
This is a type of artwork called an earthwork. What do you think an earthwork is?
How do you think the artwork has changed over time? What caused those changes?
What caused the rocks to change color?
What do you think the artwork will look like in another 50 years? 100 years? 1,000 years?
Compare/Contrast Earthworks Activity
Ask students to compare the two images of Smithson’s The Spiral Jetty and write their observations on how it changed over time and predict how it might change in the future. The image on the left was taken right after it was created in 1970 and the other 36 years later in 2006.
The Great Serpent Mound located near Peebles, Ohio, United States
Comparing Mound Builders Art to Earthworks Art
Over the course of a 5,000 year period in prehistoric times, many groups of Native Americans built mounds of earth along the Mississippi River in eastern North America. We call these groups Mound Builders, and while they each had their own unique traditions and artworks, they all built mounds.
The mounds were often used as burial places for important leaders, and they also contained objects like jewelry, pottery, artworks, food and more. Temples and important buildings were often placed on top of the mounds.
Mound Builders and earthworks artists used many of the same techniques, setting up a perfect opportunity to compare and contrast their work. You can learn more about the Mound Builders in our Mound Builders Lesson Plan.
Earthworks Art Project
Have students design their own earthworks art either inspired by Robert Smithson’s work or based on their own idea. This can be completed as an individual, group, or class project. If possible, have them plan and create an outdoor installation on your campus grounds in an open area. Encourage students to use grasses, leaves, flowers, rocks, and other natural materials from the schoolyard to create contrasting colors and textures. You can also use a wooden sandbox or plastic pool if the landscape can’t be used. If needed, students could also use shoeboxes to create their designs.
STEAM Tip! Get the whole school involved by collaborating with the science department to discuss the ecological changes that will affect the students’ artwork and team up with the math department to calculate size, area, and amount of materials needed.
If you liked this earthworks art lesson, you may also like:
In 2018, we went to London, Paris, and Amsterdam.
This summer, we’re going to Prague, Vienna, and Budapest. (It’s not too late to join us!)
Next year, we’ll be hopping around Italy!
Try as you may, it’s impossible to choose a favorite among Venice, Florence, and Rome. Each city is unique in its own right, with distinctive flavors, sights, and sounds. Float along Venice’s meandering canals. Gain new respect for the Renaissance masters in Florence. Walk in the footsteps of the ancients in Rome. Visit the Lost City of Pompeii. Enjoy the food and drink, sights and sounds among new friends!
Join me and other passionate, lovely people and discover the wonders of all that Italy has to offer. There are guided tours, optional excursions, and free days to explore.
2020 Art Trip
When: June 23 – July 4, 2020 Where: Venice, Florence & Rome + An Optional Extension to Naples! Who: Anyone can sign up! Teachers, bloggers, homeschoolers, art and travel lovers, etc. (Plus, friends and family of course!)
10 nights in handpicked hotels
3 dinners with beer or wine
4 guided sightseeing tours
Expert Tour Director & local guides
Private deluxe motor coach
Visits to St. Mark’s Basilica, Florence Duomo, Ponte Vecchio, Orvieto, Roman Forum, and the Colosseum
+ An Optional Extension to Naples!
The trip is led by Go Ahead Tours. (They are a sister company of EF Tours, the popular tour program for students.) They provide transportation, airport pick up, expert tour guides, fun excursion opportunities, nice hand-picked hotels, breakfasts, some dinners, and much more.
Cost: Starting at $3,299 plus flights, optional excursions, etc. (Psst! You can make monthly payments!) A $300 deposit is due per person at the time of reservation.
Visit our tour planning site to calculate the cost based on your departure location. (You also can book your own flights.)
How to Reserve: You can reserve your spot by calling 1-800-438-7672. You can also visit our personalized website to grab your spot and learn about all of the amazing excursion options.
Inside: A free art worksheet to help students connect with artworks on a deeper level using three writing prompts.
When students are asked to think beyond the surface of an artwork, they learn more about the art and themselves. Reflecting on their thoughts about a work of art–whether it is the work of a professional artist, their classmate, or their own piece–will bring new insights and a deeper appreciation for both the art process and the final product.
Free Art Worksheet Activity
Included in both the FREE art worksheet pack and the Art Appreciation Worksheet Bundle, the Art Reflections worksheet asks students to examine an artwork from three different perspectives. First, they take note of what they see in the artwork. Next, they consider what thoughts come to mind as they look at the art and dig into the narrative and their own emotional response. Finally, they question what more they want to know.
This three part worksheet is an easy, engaging way for students to practice creative and critical thinking in the art classroom.
All of the worksheets in the free pack will pair well with any artwork that is captivating, complex, and communicative. Below are some suggestions for artworks to use with the Art Reflections worksheet.
Albert Pinkham Ryder, The Race Track (Death on a Pale Horse), 1900