ALEX Learning Activity


Classifying Artwork

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

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  This learning activity provided by:  
Author: Hannah Bradley
System:Dothan City
School:Carver Magnet School
  General Activity Information  
Activity ID: 1891
Classifying Artwork
Digital Tool/Resource:
Paintings by Van Gogh Flashcards
Web Address – URL:

The teacher will introduce three types of artwork to students: portraits, landscapes, and still lifes. After explaining the characteristics of each form of artwork, the students will sort famous works of art into three categories based on the subject matter.

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

  Associated Standards and Objectives  
Content Standard(s):
Arts Education
ARTS (2017)
Grade: 1
Visual Arts
13) Classify/group artwork based on subject matter.

Examples: Group portraits, landscapes, and still life.

Unpacked Content
Artistic Process: Responding
Anchor Standards:
Anchor Standard 9: Apply criteria to evaluate artistic work.
Process Components: Perceive, Analyze, Interpret
Essential Questions:
EU: People evaluate art based on various criteria.
EQ: How does one determine criteria to evaluate a work of art? How and why might criteria vary? How is a personal preference different from an evaluation?
Concepts & Vocabulary:
  • Complementary colors
  • Contrast
  • Curator
  • Elements of Art
    • Texture
  • Landscapes
  • Portrait
  • Positive/ negative space and shape
  • Principles of design
    • Repetition
    • Variety
  • Secondary colors
  • Still life
  • Technique
  • Venue
Skill Examples:
  • Identify the basic elements of art in a work of art through group discussion.
  • Discuss how people create works of art to communicate ideas and serve different purposes.
  • Investigate how a select work of art was created.
  • Identify elements of art and principles of design in their own artwork and in those of others using art vocabulary.
  • Connect the stories in works of art to the cultures they represent.
  • Compare Leonardo DaVinci's Mona Lisa with Johannes Vermeer's The Girl with the Pearl Earring to identify different uses of the elements of art and principles of design.
  • Compare images that represent the same subject matter.
  • Connect visual stories with literary stories.
  • Share their art-making processes with peers
  • Classify/ group art work by portraits, landscapes and still life.
Learning Objectives:

Students will classify and group artwork based on subject matter.

  Strategies, Preparations and Variations  

1. Draw three circles or columns on the board. Label the circles or columns "Portrait", "Landscape", and "Still Life".

2. Tell students that each circle represents a type of artwork they will examine and explain the main characteristic of each, adding the main characteristic to the chart.

Portrait: An image of a person/people

Landscape: An image of an outdoor scene

Still Life: An image of an inanimate (non-living) object(s)

3. Show students the Paintings by Van Gogh flashcards. Using sticky tack or tape, have students assist in placing each piece of artwork into the correct category on the class chart. 

Note: Some works of art will require a conversation with students about classification, as it is possible they may fit into more than one category.

4. Pair students into groups of two. Give each group another set of artwork flashcards (such as Artist Flash Card Set). Have students work collaboratively to sort the artwork into the three categories discussed as a whole group. 

Assessment Strategies:

Check each groups' sorted artwork flashcards to ensure students were able to classify and group artwork based on subject matter.

Advanced Preparation:

The teacher will need to have chart paper and markers, a chalkboard/whiteboard, or an interactive whiteboard, and sticky tack or tape.

Download the Paintings by Van Gogh flashcards using the digital tool. Print out one set of the flashcards and cut them out. 

Download another set of artwork flashcards, such as Artist Flash Card Set, and print and cut out one copy for each pair of students.

Variation Tips (optional):

The teacher may add different artwork categories to the activity to match with previous lessons. 

You can increase the difficulty level by using the Famous Works of Art flashcards.

Note: Preview the works of art to ensure they are appropriate for your students. One of the famous works of art included is The Statue of David by Michelangelo.

Notes or Recommendations (optional):
  Keywords and Search Tags  
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