ALEX Learning Activity

Harlem Renaissance Art - Compare and Contrast

A Learning Activity is a strategy a teacher chooses to actively engage students in learning a concept or skill using a digital tool/resource.

  This learning activity provided by:  
Author: Asia Hester
System:Huntsville City
School:Academy For Academics & Arts
  General Activity Information  
Activity ID: 2053
Harlem Renaissance Art - Compare and Contrast
Digital Tool/Resource:
Treasures of The New York Public Library: Aaron Douglas's Aspects of Negro Life
Web Address – URL:

Students will analyze visual art from Aaron Douglas's Aspects of Negro Life  using the digital resource and make connections to the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s. Students will compare and contrast the works of Aaron Douglas and Jacob Lawrence.

This activity was created as a result of the Arts COS Resource Development Summit.

  Associated Standards and Objectives  
Content Standard(s):
Social Studies
SS2010 (2010)
Grade: 6
United States Studies: The Industrial Revolution to the Present
4 ) Identify cultural and economic developments in the United States from 1900 through the 1930s.

•  Describing the impact of various writers, musicians, and artists on American culture during the Harlem Renaissance and the Jazz Age
Examples: Langston Hughes, Louis Armstrong, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Andrew Wyeth, Frederic Remington, W. C. Handy, Erskine Hawkins, George Gershwin, Zora Neale Hurston (Alabama)

•  Identifying contributions of turn-of-the-century inventors
Examples: George Washington Carver, Henry Ford, Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Alva Edison, Wilbur and Orville Wright (Alabama)

•  Describing the emergence of the modern woman during the early 1900s
Examples: Amelia Earhart, Zelda Fitzgerald, Helen Keller, Susan B. Anthony, Margaret Washington, suffragettes, suffragists, flappers (Alabama)

•  Identifying notable persons of the early 1900s
Examples: Babe Ruth, Charles A. Lindbergh, W. E. B. Du Bois, John T. Scopes (Alabama)

•  Comparing results of the economic policies of the Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover Administrations
Examples: higher wages, increase in consumer goods, collapse of farm economy, extension of personal credit, stock market crash, Immigration Act of 1924

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
SS.AAS.6.4- Identify at least one or more inventions and inventors of the late 1800s and early 1900s, including Thomas Edison (practical light bulb), Alexander Graham Bell (telephone), George Washington Carver (uses for the peanut), Wright Brothers (airplane), and Henry Ford (affordable car); illustrate the cultural changes of the early 1900s presented by at least one or more individuals including, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Zora Neale Hurston, Helen Keller, Babe Ruth, W. C. Handy, and Charles Lindbergh.

Arts Education
ARTS (2017)
Grade: 6
Visual Arts
10) Compare and contrast works of art or design that reveal how people live around the world and what they value.

Example: Molas of Cuna Indians in Panama with Kente cloth of West Africa.

Arts Education
ARTS (2017)
Grade: 6
Visual Arts
12) Interpret art by discerning contextual information and visual qualities to identify ideas and meaning.

Example: Students answer questions such as "Why are they leaving and where are they going?" in response to One Way Ticket in Jacob Lawrence's Great Migration Series.

Learning Objectives:

  • Students will interpret the meaning of artwork from a specific time period. 
  • Students will make connections to the Harlem Renaissance using artwork from the time period. 
  • Students will compare and contrast works of art from two different artists of the same time period. 
  Strategies, Preparations and Variations  

1. This activity should follow the Jacob Lawrence Migration Series See, Think, Wonder Learning Activity

2. The students will use the digital resource to analyze the artwork from Aaron Douglas's Aspects of Negro Life. Have students browse the entire collection to determine an overall theme or mood of the collection. Then, have students choose or assign the students one piece, in particular, to analyze more closely. Students will use a graphic organizer to record their analysis. 

See, Think, Wonder Graphic Organizer

3. Have students complete a Venn Diagram to compare and contrast the works of Jacob Lawrence and Aaron Douglas. Have the students consider the theme, mood/message, medium, and historical context in their graphic organizers. 

 Artwork Venn Diagram

Assessment Strategies:

Students will write a concluding statement about the artwork that they analyzed and its connection to the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s. 

See, Think, Wonder Graphic Organizer

Students will write a concluding paragraph, comparing and contrasting the works of two artists from the same time period.

Artwork Venn Diagram

Advanced Preparation:

The teacher should be familiar with the Great Migration of the 1920s and the Harlem Renaissance. 

 The teacher should make sure students have access to a computer and test the internet connection before the lesson to make sure students will be able to access the digital resource. 

 The teacher should make copies of the See, Think, Wonder Graphic Organizer and the Artwork Venn Diagram before the lesson.

Variation Tips (optional):
Notes or Recommendations (optional):

If time permits, there is a 3-minute YouTube video that introduces the Aaron Douglas collection that can be shown to the class. 

The Harlem Renaissance - Treasures of the New York Public Library

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