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Lesson Plans

 
Quilt
Mathematics - Production, Performance, & Exhibition
This lesson explores geometry and patterns in quilts. How have quiltmakers used geometry in patchwork quilts? How do shapes fit together to create new shapes and form patterns? What are some different ways of creating designs?
Locomotive Briar Cliff
Social Studies - Historical & Cultural Contexts
In this lesson plan, we will be learning about railroad transportation by taking a closer look at Locomotive Briar Cliff, a painting made around 1860 by W. L. Bresse, and connecting it with learning experiences to explore how a train works and transports people and materials.
Choir Screen from the Chapel of the Château of Pagny
Mathematics - Aesthetic Response
The golden rectangle is a geometric concept found in many aspects of the natural world as well as in architecture, art, and popular culture. This lesson is designed to be part of a geometry curriculum discussing the mathematical and aesthetic qualities of basic shapes, and of their use in society and nature.
The City
Language Arts - Critical Response
This lesson, although aligned with Career, Art, and Twenty-First Century standards, can be easily adapted for any core subject area.
Star Tile
Mathematics - Historical & Cultural Contexts
One of the skills highlighted in the Common Core State Standards for mathematics involves generating and analyzing patterns and pattern relationships. Islamic art made for a religious purpose or setting does not include images of people, and often focuses on intricate geometric designs. A close look at Islamic art provides an opportunity, not only for the reinforcement of these Common Core skills, but also for a glimpse inside this important culture.
Bicycle Race
Language Arts - Aesthetic Response
Descriptive writing vividly portrays a person, place, or thing in such a way that the reader can visualize the topic and enter into the writer's experience. The best writing engages our five senses, and nothing provides as rich an opportunity for sensory engagement as art. This lesson is designed to help students recognize sensory details in works of art and incorporate these details into their writing.
The Ballet Class
Language Arts - Critical Response
While biographers and historians are guided by actual events, artists and writers can select those details that suit their purposes, specifically to develop character, tone, conflict, and theme.
Still Life with a Ham and a Roemer
Language Arts - Aesthetic Response
The elements and principals of art and design, and how they are used, contribute mightily to the ultimate composition of a work of art—and that can mean the difference between a masterpiece and a messterpiece.
Landscape, the Seat of Mr. Featherstonhaugh in the Distance
Science - Historical & Cultural Contexts
In 1970, 20 million people celebrated the first Earth Day. At that time, only about a third of the nation’s streams were safe for fishing or swimming, and major cities across the U.S. were often hidden under clouds of smoke. Since then, the successes and challenges represented by Earth Day have centered on one question: Do we control Nature, or does Nature control us?
A Coming Storm
Language Arts - Critical Response
In this lesson, students will work in the opposite direction and use their skills in poetry to examine and interpret works of art.
Tapestry showing Constantine Slaying the Lion
Language Arts - Historical & Cultural Contexts
The Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Constantine tapestries represent thirteen iconic scenes from the life of the Roman Emperor Constantine (around 270–337 CE). Each tapestry is filled with detail and drama, and offers an opportunity to witness the ability of art to tell a story. This lesson, designed for a Language Arts classroom, grades 4–8, uses a structured poem (the diamante) to examine contrasting story elements in narrative art.
Still Life with Roses in a Fluted Vase
Language Arts - Aesthetic Response
Though we may not actually be able to feel or hear the objects and scenes depicted in a painting, artists often invite us to use a variety of our senses when we explore a work of art, encouraging us to imagine the textures, smells, and even tastes of what is depicted.
Portrait of Laura Canadé Zigrosser
Language Arts - Aesthetic Response
Sculpture is an art form that, unlike painting, printmaking, and photography, exists in 3-dimensional space. Most sculpture can be explored from all sides. This 3-dimensional aspect challenges the artist and offers a new set of opportunities for expression. This lesson is meant to introduce students to some of the more common forms of sculpture, as well as to a few of the terms used for description and discussion.
At the Moulin Rouge: The Dance
Mathematics - Aesthetic Response
Over the centuries, many different formulae have been created to describe the proportions of the human figure. To prepare for this lesson, ask students to bring in full-length magazine photos of people. Do people follow a "design pattern"? Is there a formula that can describe a how a human should appear?
Night Sea
Science - Aesthetic Response
While universities, most K-12 schools, and probably most people see a logical division of knowledge into the Arts and the Sciences, does this separation allow us to better understand our world – or does it get in the way of understanding? This lesson, designed for use in a science classroom but with clear applications to the humanities, examines and challenges the sometimes artificial lines we have drawn between the Arts and the Sciences.
Mount Pleasant
Social Studies - Historical & Cultural Contexts
In this lesson, students study and interpret primary sources, including both objects (a historical house and a miniature portrait) and documents (a 1767 tax assessment and an excerpt from a 1769 issue of The Pennsylvania Gazette). Through these sources students examine the experience of enslaved people of African descent and ship captain and slave owner John Macpherson (1726–1792) at Mount Pleasant in the colonial era.
Portrait of Dr. Samuel D. Gross (The Gross Clinic)
Science - Historical & Cultural Contexts
In this lesson plan we will uncover medical history by comparing Thomas Eakins’s The Gross Clinic, begun in 1875—which shows Dr. Samuel Gross, a surgeon at Jefferson Medical School, operating on a young boy suffering from osteomyelitis—with images of modern-day surgery.
Landscape, the Seat of Mr. Featherstonhaugh in the Distance
Social Studies - Historical & Cultural Contexts
The Industrial Revolution was not fought between armies and governments—although there were periods of violence. From the late 1700s through th e early 1900s, every aspect of day-to-day life in Europe and the United States was affected by changes in industry, transportation, and manufacturing. People from this era were often shocked by what seemed to be constant changes in their lifestyles, influencing how they viewed the world around them. Writers often reflected on these changes and artists frequently incorporated industrial influences into their creations.
Mother and Child
Social Studies - Historical & Cultural Contexts
The power of women is a common theme in art, and this lesson examines that theme using images from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Picturing America resource in addition to objects from the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The works in this lesson also promote the social agenda of the artist. Students explore connections to social issues and learn how each artist uses details to reveal inner strengths through their subjects.
Embroidered Picture
Language Arts - Historical & Cultural Contexts
World leaders are, and always have been, larger than life, and for thousands of years, governments and statespersons have been keenly aware of the power of symbols to express complex beliefs, values, and ideas. This lesson explores how artists employ symbols to speak of the greatness of America’s premier founding father, George Washington. Students will examine several depictions of our country’s first president, focusing on the artist’s use of symbol.
White-Headed Eagle with Yellow Catfish
Science - Aesthetic Response
Before the Discovery Channel and before National Geographic magazine, there was artist/illsutrator John James Audubon. The lifework of Audubon focused primarily on the wildlife of North America, with a particular interest in ornithology, the study of birds. In his monumental volume Birds of America, Audubon seamlessly blended art and science. In each of his 435 illustrations, he depicted not only an animal’s physical appearance and habitat, but also its spirit and character. In this lesson students will explore two works featured in Birds of America that capture the beauty and ferocity of American wildlife.
Portrait of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Mifflin (Sarah Morris)
Social Studies - Historical & Cultural Contexts
A portrait can communicate volumes about the sitter’s identity beyond physical appearance. Through the careful organization of elements such as costuming, props, setting, and pose, artists reveal the depth and complexities of their subjects’ personalities. This lesson develops an awareness of how individuals express their identity through their outward appearances, and guides students through the critical thinking skills of deductive reasoning and forming conclusions.
Bust of Benjamin Franklin (1706 - 1790)
Social Studies - Historical & Cultural Contexts
Benjamin Franklin has been regarded as one of the greatest minds of his age. Throughout his life, Franklin enjoyed international acclaim for his ideas, inventions, and personality. In death, this fame quickly rose to mythic proportions. This lesson challenges students to examine the birth of Franklin’s legend by comparing portraits and sculptures that were created both during his life and after his death.
Portrait of Yarrow Mamout (Muhammad Yaro)
Social Studies - Aesthetic Response
The African American experience is a complex story populated with heroes and dramatic journeys. This lesson explores three stories from history: the artistic contributions of the potter David Drake; the rich and interesting life of Yarrow Mamout; the heroism and bravery of the Fifty-fourth Regiment from Massachusetts and their commander Colonel Robert Gould Shaw; and the individuals who participated in the Selma-to-Montgomery march for voting rights in 1965. Students will see how artistic works offer insights into the people and events of history.
Mr. Prejudice
Language Arts - Historical & Cultural Contexts
Historical periods or moments can be appreciated in many forms. A video clip or audio file provides context, as does a well-documented historical text. Works of art can also provide a lens into the past, documenting events and issues of the time through the eyes of the artist who produced it. This lesson compares paintings that commemorate similar historical periods, allowing the student to note similarities and differences through the eyes of the artist.
A Huntsman and Dogs
Language Arts - Critical Response
Mankind’s struggle for dominance over nature is a universal theme that has resonated with people throughout history. Whether linked to a specific belief system, geographic area, or culture, views about this relationship are ever-changing, and have often been addressed by American artists. This lesson explores the complex relationship of man in the natural world. Students will discover those details in artistic composition that reveal the artist’s views and compel the viewer to consider greater truths.
Red and Orange Streak
Social Studies - Historical & Cultural Contexts
Since the early days of the United States, American artists have depicted their nation’s landscape as an iconic motif. Following westward expansion of the nineteenth century, artists, too, began to settle their gazes on the unexplored terrain of the American West. By the twentieth century, the emerging visual language of abstraction provided new ways for artists to depict the world around them. This lesson examines two key works of American western landscape and guides students through the process of responding to abstract art.
The Life Line
Science - Critical Response
A podcast is an audio program made available in digital format for download over the Internet. This lesson plan instructs students to develop an audio tour telling a story about a work of art. Writing and recording a podcast can help students become better writers because, unlike more traditional projects, they can hear the flow of their words and ideas. Using technology to share their work engages students and encourages peer review. Podcasting about art also builds many common core skills by challenging students to observe, inquire, infer, describe, conclude, revise, produce, and publish.
The Battle of the U.S.S. "Kearsarge" and the C.S.S. "Alabama"
Language Arts - Historical & Cultural Contexts
The adoption of Common Core Standards in English Language Arts and Literacy has highlighted those skills required to understand and work with informational texts. The visual arts are viewed as alternative informational texts; and when also considered as primary source objects, works of art present unique opportunities to work with Common Core skills. This lesson will focus specifically on determining central ideas, supporting inferences and analyses with textual details, and comparing sources for specific events.
Staircase Group (Portrait of Raphaelle Peale and Titian Ramsay Peale I)
Language Arts - Aesthetic Response
Artists often invite us into their paintings so that we might imagine ourselves stepping inside the picture frame and experiencing it firsthand. Some painters take this invitation to another level by painting details with such precision that viewers are tricked into believing the objects, people, and setting are real. These highly realistic paintings, known as trompe l’oeil, provide an ideal opportunity for students to respond to art by assuming the roles and voices of the painted figures.
Cuirassier Armor
Language Arts - Historical & Cultural Contexts
Symbols are all around us. They are a natural part of our language and of the objects of our culture. In fact, our ability to communicate would be limited without the use of symbols. A Symbol is a person, place, or object that represents something beyond itself. Symbols possess standard interpretations, which are generally accepted by a culture, and also personal interpretations, which vary from one person to the next. These interpretations allow us to use symbols to examine other cultures and other viewpoints.
Cushion Cover
Mathematics - Aesthetic Response
Of the many connections between mathematics and art, none is stronger than the shared concept of symmetry. Mathematicians find symmetry pleasing in geometry, physicists find it pleasing in the study of motion, poets appreciate it in the play of words, and artists employ it in the creation of beauty.
Railroad Bridge, Argenteuil
Language Arts - Critical Response
The shift to implementing Common Core standards in schools has placed new emphasis on helping students develop critical thinking skills. While the use and definition of these skills continues to evolve.
Mother and Child
Social Studies - Aesthetic Response
The power of women is a common theme in art, and this lesson examines that theme using images from the National Endowment for the Humanities Picturing America image set as well as from the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Each of the works in this lesson also promotes the social agenda of the artist. Students will see connections to social issues, and will see how the artist/photographer uses details to reveal inner strengths.
Armor for use on horseback in the field
Social Studies - Critical Response
Armor is about protection – not to prevent the wearers from getting hit in battles or tournaments, but rather to let them take the hit – and survive. In addition to needing to be protective, armor also needed to let a knight move as freely as possible. This is as true about today’s armor, using composite materials and high-tech innovations, as it was true in the Renaissance. This lesson entices students to think critically about the decisions that lie behind the construction of armor from sixteenth- and seventeenth-century armor, including 21st Century Critical Thinking Skills of making judgments and decisions and using systems thinking.
Brillo Boxes
Science - Critical Response
Recent research has shown that we can build innovative thinkers by reinforcing a set of thinking tools or skills, including such skills as Observing, Abstracting, Pattern Recognition, Modeling, Transforming (among others).
Giant Three-Way Plug (Cube Tap)
Mathematics - Critical Response
This lesson plan is the second in a series that is focused on using art to enrich instruction in these critical skills. The research on which this information is based can be found in many sources, perhaps best summarized in the book Sparks of Genius: The Thirteen Thinking Tools of the World's Most Creative People by Robert and Michele Root-Bernstein.
Bicycle Race
Mathematics - Critical Response
Recent research has shown that we can build innovative thinkers by reinforcing a set of thinking tools, including such skills as observing, imagining, pattern recognition, modeling, and transforming. As these skills can be taught, it makes sense that we can help students become the creative thinkers that we will need in the twenty-first century.
Three Musicians
Mathematics - Critical Response
We constantly see patterns all around us, and our brains organize our experience of the world through the recognition of these patterns. Consider something as basic as a joke: tell a “knock-knock” joke to a partner. Tell a second one. The pattern becomes obvious. Now tell your partner that you have one more, but your partner should start. This time the joke is in the confusion that results when the pattern is disrupted. In fact, most jokes involve the expectation of some sort of pattern which is invariably broken to form the joke. Patterns not only help us make sense of the world, they allow us to form expectations and predict outcomes.
Disks of Newton (Study for "Fugue in Two Colors")
Mathematics - Critical Response
Recent research has shown that we can build innovative thinkers by reinforcing a set of thinking tools, including such skills as observing, abstracting, pattern recognition, modeling, and transforming (among others). As these skills can all be taught, it makes sense that we can help students become the creative thinkers that we will need in the twenty-first century. This lesson plan is the fifth in a series that is focused on using art to enrich instruction in these critical skills. The research on which this information is based can be found in many sources, perhaps best summarized in the book Sparks of Genius: The Thirteen Thinking Tools of the World’s Most Creative People by Robert and Michele Root-Bernstein.
Still Life with a Ham and a Roemer
Language Arts - Critical Response
This lesson plan is the sixth in a series that is focused on using art to enrich instruction in these critical skills. The research on which this information is based can be found in many sources, perhaps best summarized in the book Sparks of Genius: The Thirteen Thinking Tools of the World’s Most Creative People by Robert and Michele Root-Bernstein.
Portrait of Matthew Huizinga Messchert (1831-1876)
Social Studies - Historical & Cultural Contexts
It's never too early to introduce children to art images and activities – as you can see as this portrait lesson allows pre-K children to connect with literacy through speaking and listening skills. Portraits and the activities which they suggest both introduce and reinforce early learning of cultural differences and lifestyles. Understanding Differences: Using Portraits to Explore Diversity connects art with a variety of Pre-K and Kindergarten PA and NJ academic standards.
South Philly (Mattress Flip Front)
Language Arts - Aesthetic Response
Adapted and expanded from the 2011 Philadelphia Museum of Art teaching kit, Looking to Write, Writing to Look.
Domestic Felicity
Social Studies - Historical & Cultural Contexts
Using primary sources encourages the researcher to form his/her own conclusions, rather than relying on the conclusions expressed by others in secondary sources.

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