Classroom Resources & Lesson Plans
Lesson plans and resources connect the museum’s collection to different subjects and grade levels to support your teaching. Click on the thumbnails below to view or download an image of each work of art through the Wadsworth Atheneum’s public portal. Click on the lesson titles to download a PDF of each lesson plan or resource.
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Lesson Plan: Art and Revolution
Visual Art, Social Studies | Grades 9–12
In this lesson, students analyze an 18th century painting by the French artist Jacques-Louis David and discuss the concept of art as propaganda during the French Revolution. They will then engage in a structured debate about the positives and negatives of the paintings message.
Lesson Plan: Art in a New Age
Visual Art, Social Studies | Grades 7–12
Students will examine an artwork by the American artist Robert Rauschenberg and discuss the artist’s use of popular images. Students then create a composition that documents our contemporary lives using a layering technique, juxtaposition, and color.
Lesson Plan: Can Girls Do That?
Visual Art, Social Justice/Empathy | Grades 3–5
Students will brainstorm how boys and girls are represented in a variety of different artworks. They will discuss how certain characteristics are only used in pictures of a certain gender, and talk about how stereotypes are used in art. Next, they will make their own portraits that prove that stereotypes are not always accurate.
Lesson Plan: Symbols in Paint and Poetry
Visual Art, English | Grades 6–12
In this lesson students will investigate the use of symbols in Coney Island by Arnold Mesches. They will use the same process to create a symbolic meaning worksheet for the poem Where I’m From by Georgia Ella Lyon and create their own “Where I’m From” poem using concrete language.
Lesson Plan: Draw My World
Visual Art, Social Justice/Empathy | Grades K–5
Can art help us see the world through someone else’s eyes? Students explore this question through guided looking, hands-on activities, and related storybooks. Then students work in pairs to learn more about each other and create an artwork that reflects the way their partner sees the world.
Lesson Plan: Memorializing Independence
Visual Art, Social Studies | Grades 6–12
In this lesson written by the Connecticut Old State House education staff, students will closely examine John Trumbull’s The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776 to consider how our country memorialized, and now understands, this pivotal moment in American history.
Lesson Plan: Impressionism and Color Theory
Visual Art | Grades K–12
Students will learn about the Impressionist painters’ use of color and how it connected to early 19th-century scientific theories about color. They will explore combinations of primary and secondary colors, experiment creating secondary colors, and create a landscape using complementary colors.
Lesson Plan: Clementine Hunter and the South
Visual Art, English Language Arts, Social Studies | Grades 9–12
Students compare the use of repetition in the work of Clementine Hunter and call and response songs, then compare Hunter’s representation of the south with Langston Hughes’ description in his poem The South.
Lesson Plan: The Founding of Hartford
Visual Art, English Language Arts, Social Studies | Grades 4–7
In this lesson, students use Frederic Edwin Church’s Reverend Thomas Hooker and Company Journeying through the Wilderness in 1636 from Plymouth to Hartford to understand how images tell stories. Students will then analyze a textual narrative of the same event and compare and contrast the two accounts.
Lesson Plan: The Evolution of Production
Visual Art, Social Studies | Grades 9–12
Students will compare the creation of silver objects before and after the Industrial Revolution as shown through Paul Revere II’s work during the late 1700s and mass production in the late 1800s. Students will evaluate the differences between these two processes and derive inferences about the influence of the Industrial Revolution on the creation, consumption, and value of silver goods.
Lesson Plan: The Influence of Ancient Greece and Rome on the New Nation
Visual Art, Social Studies | Grades 9–7
Students will compare Paul Revere II’s Tankard (c. 1760–74) with images of ancient Greek or Roman columns to illustrate the influence of the classical style. They will then review the government structures of these ancient civilizations and compare them to the organizational structure of America’s government as outline in the Constitution.
Themed Resource: Elements of Art: Color
This teacher resource presents Vincent van Gogh’s Self-Portrait as the basis for exploring the uses and effects of color in a work of art. The packet includes background information, classroom and art room activities, and suggestions for further exploration.
Themed Resource: Elements of Art: Texture
This teacher resource uses a Dutch still life to explore the use of texture in works of art. The packet includes background information, classroom and art room activities, and suggestions for further exploration.
Object Resource: Reginald Marsh’s Wooden Horses
This teacher resource explores Reginald Marsh’s 1936 painting Wooden Horses, which depicts a ride at the Coney Island theme park. The resource includes background information on the painting, discussion questions, curriculum questions, and classroom activities as well as a list of resources for further exploration.
Object Resource: Albert Bierstadt’s In the Mountains
This teacher resource explores Albert Bierstadt’s 1867 landscape painting In the Mountains. The resource includes background information on the painting, discussion questions, curriculum connections and classroom activities, as well as a list of resources for further exploration.
Object Resource: Frank Stella’s Sinjerli Variation IV
This teacher resource explores Frank Stella’s Sinjerli Variation IV. The resource includes background information on the painting, discussion questions, curriculum questions, and classroom activities as well as a list of resources for further exploration.
Object Resource: Paul Revere II, Tankard
This teacher resource explores Paul Revere II’s Tankard. The resource includes background information on the object, Paul Revere II, and life in colonial America, discussion questions, curriculum connections and classroom activities, primary source documents, as well as a list of resources for further exploration.
Lesson Plan: How Cities Change
Social Studies, English, Visual Art | Grades K–5
How do communities change over time? In this lesson, students take a trip through time to the past, present, and future of their town or city. Taking inspiration from Virginia Lee Burton’s “The Little House,” students create a work of art that imagines what their neighborhood might look like in the future.
Lesson Plan: Animal Adaptations
Visual Art, Science | Grades K–3
Students learn about how different animals adapt to their habitats by examining different depictions of animalsin art. Students then receive an “empty” habitat and must apply their knowledge by designing an animal that might live there.
Lesson Plan: Power Portraits
Visual Art | Grades 9–12
In this lesson students will examine a portrait by Kehinde Wiley, analyzing how he conveys certain characteristics about his sitter. Students then “commission” their own portraits from one another.
Lesson Plan: Design Challenge: Chairs!
Visual Art, Math | Grades 2–4
Students look at a variety of chairs created at different times, analyzing design considerations for each. Students measure their classroom chairs and then solve word problems to design a new chair for a specific purpose.
Lesson Plan: Edward Gorey Inspired Book Covers
Visual Art, English | Grades 6–8
In this lesson students will examine Edward Gorey’s use of line to create value, and create a book cover design using cross-hatching.
Lesson Plan: Living in the Ancient World
Visual Art, Social Studies | Grades 3–5
Students analyze objects from ancient Rome, Greece, and Egypt, drawing inferences about life in the ancient world. Students then create an object and accompanying label that reflects an element of contemporary life.
Lesson Plan: Creating an Emotional Palette
Visual Art, Empathy/Social Justice | Grades 6–12
Artists often harness their emotions to create powerful works of art. Students explore how looking at art can cultivate a mindful awareness of emotions. Then, drawing inspiration from the Abstract Exressionists, they build an “emotional palette” to create a visual map in response to a contemporary social justice or personal issue of their choice.
NOTE: The artworks above many not currently be on view. Call (860) 838-4100 for more information. Reproduction of the Stella, Calder, Marini, O’Keeffe, and Marsh works, is prohibited by copyright laws and international conventions without the express written permission of Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
Teacher Image Portal
Additional educational images of artworks in the Wadsworth Atheneum’s collection are available for download in the Teacher Image Portal. Find out how to access collection images for classroom use.
Classroom Resources and Lesson Plans are made possible with the support of Lincoln Financial Group and Wells Fargo.