Art History

Twenty Seven Ways to Teach Art History 
in your Choice Classroom


  1. Put an art history timeline around the top of your wall.
  1. When a student makes an artwork that connects to your timeline, point it out.
  1. Make a reduced copy of student artwork and put it up on the timeline.
  1. Make sure that your centers contain good reproductions from many eras and cultures.
  1. Have a small box containing museum postcards.  Put artist information on the back of each and laminate.  This can serve as an Idea Box and an easy-to-use reference.
  1. Set up an Activity Table with store-bought or teacher-made games and puzzles featuring artworks.  Think of matching games, concentration games and flashcards.
  1. Collect art calendars (used and on sale after the first of the year).  Create a reference collection.  Sort reproductions into still life, landscape, animal, people/portraits and non-objective categories.
  1. Set up “schools” of art.  For a whole-group painting introduction, for instance, let students choose to work at a “landscape table” or a “portrait table”. Offer extensive appropriate references for each group.
  1. Run good-quality art videos silently during each class.  These images can inspire particular students.  The video of Calder’s circus is a good example.
  1. Introduce the Five-Minute Museum: a quick look at four large reproductions at class beginning.
  1. When a student’s work connects to that of an artist in your resource collection, bring that information to the student: “I notice that you and Paul Klee use the same colors…”
  1. Buy the Shorewood Catalogue and use it as your handy art history encyclopedia.
  1. Create a list of good bookmarks for artist images online.  Check them carefully for appropriate content.  Google Images can be helpful.
  1. Set up a Webquest for your students to use independently.  Here is some information on Webquests: edonline/concept2class/webquests/index.html
  1. Have teacher-made Powerpoint files of favorite artists available for easy access on your classroom computer.
  1. Have your older students create and share their own Powerpoint files of artists that intrigue them.
  1. Create a classroom or hallway display with a reproduction next to a student piece that was inspired by or connects with it. Annotate it with information on both artists!  Remember that often the student work comes first and then the teacher helps the student to make this connection.
  1. Make a collection of good museum websites to use in your classroom.  Here is one: http://www.nga. gov/kids/kids.htm
  1. Bring in all your college art textbooks and keep them handy in your art room for easy access.
  1. Preview art history CD’s available for your classroom computer. Here is one:
  1. Go see as much art as you can on your own at galleries, art fairs and museums.  Bring your own sightings and enthusiasm back to your classroom.  Some (not all!) of your students will find inspiration.
  1. Model the habit of looking at lots of art that connects with your own work and tastes.  Invite your students to do the same.
  2. If field trips are an option in your school, consider a trip to a gallery or museum.
  1. Before any art field trip, prepare your students.  What sort of artwork will they be viewing?  Set up the circumstances for children to move freely through the exhibit by arranging for adequate chaperones.  Students should be encouraged to look for art that they find engaging.  This may differ with each student.
  1. Have museum-going students create small sketchbooks in the book arts center for small sketches, notes and comments during and after their field trip.
  1. In your school’s parent newsletter, keep families apprised of local art events and encourage participation.
  1. Approach the history of art with enthusiasm and appreciation.  Set up the circumstances for your students to find and connect with art that they love.