As a subject, art is about much more than putting paint on canvas.
Teaching kids about artistic movements — and the great artists who created them — helps them understand history, politics, and lifestyle in a truly evocative way. After all, the world’s most famous artists were known for making cultural statements with their work, and never shied away from a little controversy!
But with such a broad offering to pick from, which of the great artists should you teach to your class? And how exactly do you deliver art lessons that are not only creative and fun, but culturally and historically educational, too?
From Vincent van Gogh to Andy Warhol, this article will provide you with all the facts, worksheets, and activities you need to build the best art lesson plans you can.
Art lesson plan #1 — Pablo Picasso:
Pablo Picasso is easily one of the most influential artists to have ever lived; famed for his defining contributions to the Surrealist art movement.
Kids will love Picasso’s quirky, cubist self-portraits, but they’ll also be interested to learn about the cultural context that Picasso’s art sits within.
To cover the key historical facts around his art, you should focus the first half of your lesson on Picasso’s long and interesting life. Did you know, for example, that Picasso actually stopped painting for a time (and focused on poetry!) after a brief run-in with the German Gestapo during World War II?
You’ll find fascinating facts like this one in our Picasso worksheets — from the 1930s Civil War, to Picasso’s world-renowned ‘Guernica’, which depicts a WW2 scene, this 19-page bundle is the ideal way to get your class up to speed with Europe’s 20th-century political landscape.
Then, after setting the scene, your students will be itching to get creative! And there’s no shortage of ways to apply Picasso’s style in the classroom. For one, they could paint their own self-portraits, or use off-cuts of paper to create a collage. Whether working on their own, or in a team, kids of all ages will find Picasso’s surreal, abstract, and cubist approach fun to get stuck into.
Art lesson plan #2 — Vincent van Gogh:
Think of an important figure in the history of art, and you’ll struggle to find a name more famous than Vincent van Gogh.
Born in 1853, the Dutch painter is renowned for his use of bold color, seemingly endless catalog of artwork, and signature style that continues to permeate culture today.
Now, it’s no secret that Vincent van Gogh had a very complicated and troubled life. From poor mental health, to his heartfelt letters to his brother, there’s much that underpins the meaning behind the pictures van Gogh painted.
Teaching what was a very complex life to a group of young kids isn’t going to be easy — that’s why we recommend using our bundle of ready-to-use van Gogh worksheets to help deliver your message.
Filled with 18 pages of in-depth — yet easy to understand — content, these worksheets are a great way to teach children the fundamentals of who Vincent van Gogh really was. And our ‘Behind the Truth’ worksheet will help them separate the facts from fiction.
After your class has completed these sheets, it’s time to put all they’ve learned into action — but how? As his most famous painting, The Starry Night is a great place to start. Here, kids can learn to mimic van Gogh’s distinctive brushstroke style, and maybe even create a piece of art that depicts their home, or school, at night?
Art lesson plan #3 — Frida Kahlo:
When it comes to power couples of the art world, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera would give everyone a run for their money.
At a time in Mexico’s history where the Communist movement was taking hold, and creatives were using their art to deliver important political statements, Kahlo and Rivera’s relationship was front and center. And, never far from heartbreak or controversy, Kahlo’s life had more ups and downs than most kids would believe.
When she was six, Kahlo was struck down with polio — an illness that required months and months of bed rest. Then, aged just 18, Kahlo was involved in a serious bus accident, breaking her spine and pelvis. As a result, she spent much of her incredible life bed-bound — painting self-portraits by using a mirror attached to the ceiling. Even after 35 surgeries, Kahlo never regained full use of her body again.
What would have been called a ‘disability’ by many inspired Kahlo to create some of the most famous paintings the world has ever seen. And whilst some are perhaps a little too dark to share with young kids, there are a number of important lessons to derive from Frida Kahlo’s life and love of art.
Our 24-page Frida Kahlo worksheet bundle covers her artistic timeline — with many opportunities to discuss what was happening in Mexico, the US and Europe at the time, including Kahlo’s time in New York, and her close friendship with Soviet Communist, Leon Trotsky.
Then, after you’ve covered the most important political and cultural details, your class can choose their favorite (kid-friendly) Kahlo painting and either produce their own version or take inspiration from the Mexican themes — whether that’s the bold colors, vibrant plant life or traditional dress — to paint something entirely of their own mind.
However you choose to plan your art lesson, one thing is for sure: Frida Kahlo is an artist your class won’t forget in a hurry.
Art lesson plan #4 — Andy Warhol:
Andy Warhol is one of modern art’s most prolific contributors — an artist whose influence, style, and vision can still be seen in popular culture today.
Turning ‘Pop’ (figures of mainstream interest) into bold, bright pieces of art, Warhol famously pioneered the artistic movement known as ‘Pop Art’ in the early 1960s.
As well as painting celebrities — most famously, Marilyn Monroe — Warhol also printed his art onto mass-produced commercial goods, such as the soup can, to provide a social commentary on the evolution of modern life.
To build an art lesson plan that really helps your students understand this pop culture icon, you should use our worksheets on Andy Warhol to breakdown his history, the life he lived, and the intentions that underpinned his creative vision.
And to show your class how Warhol’s art aimed to hold a mirror to popular culture of the time, why not task your students with creating their own pop art paintings of celebrities they love, technology they use, and brands they couldn’t go without?
By relating the pop art movement to popular culture today, your students will quickly understand the message Warhol was sending through his art.
It’s time to get creative…
We hope today’s article has helped you build the best art lesson plans you can, and that you’re feeling more ready than ever to teach your students the greatest artists that have been.
From Pablo Picasso right up to Andy Warhol, we’re sure that your students will have a whole lot of fun learning how art has evolved over time.
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Link will appear as Teaching The Greats: Art Lesson Plans on Warhol, van Gogh, Picasso & more!: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, March 20, 2020