Monday, January 19, 2015

Museum Activity: You Be the Critic!

In preparation for our 4th grade museum trip I wanted to do an activity, with my students, that I learned about last summer through NAEA's Summer Vision, DC.  This program gave me the opportunity to visit different museums and learn how to use art to teach art.

 I pulled out a variety of art posters and put them out on the tables. Photocopied the form, which I had redone, gathered up the tokens I had made and laminated and gathered up clip boards. Ready or not here they come.............
You can see icons in the column on the left side of the form, and the explanation in the right column.  I made a class set of each icon into a token using different colored paper, you will see them further down in this post. 

Before students entered the room, I explained what we were doing and handed out the sheets. Students were told to walk around, look at the art and fill in the boxes.

Then I gathered up the students, gave them tokens that matched the worksheet, and instructed them to leave them by the posters.
 Next, we walked around to all the tables and discussed our findings. Renoir's painting of Monet Painting In His Garden didn't go over quite as well as The Brooklyn Bridge by Joseph Stella.
Students were not wild about Paul Klee's Head of a Man, some thought it was scary. They really disliked Orange and Yellow by Marc Rothko because of the lack of details.             
 George Seurat's Seine at the Grand-Jatte didn't generate many tokens, however students DID believe it took a lot of time to make, but thought the whole dot thing to be weird. They LOVED the realism of Albert Bierstadt's In the Mountains and the marvelous texture in Young Hare by Albrecht Durer. The last one Memorial to Robert Gould Shaw by Augustus Saint-Gardens confused them, they based their opinion on the photography of the art and not the art in the photo.

The last part of this activity was for the students to draw one of the artworks in their sketchbook.

It was funny to see how many students decided to copy the Rothko, which they didn't like, but acknowledged would be the easiest.
One of the reasons I signed up for Summer Vision last year was to bring more historical and global connections to my students through the arts. It was a wonderful experience and I know my students really enjoyed this activity.

The variety of art posters were chosen based on what I have in the art room and the different styles of the artists. Anything that will generate a conversation will work.

I have downloaded a copy of the You be the Critic form and sheets with all the icons to my resource page.

Thanks for reading!


  1. Thanks so much for sharing this idea. I also had students critique famous works based on what they saw in them that reflected the elements of art. I like the way you approached your assessment and also the extension with students creating one of the works.

  2. I love this idea. I was thinking it would work really well for our open house. We have hundreds of kids and parents that come through and we are suppose to have an activity. It's usually a mess. This would get parents and children talking about art together.

    1. It really is fun and extremely interesting to hear their comments. Let me know how it turns out!