Lesson Plans: Social Studies

Education

Lesson Plans & Classroom Materials: Social Studies

The 1920s: The Migrants Arrive and Cast Their Ballots

Teach American history through art & explore democracy through this print from the Great Migration series by Jacob Lawrence.

See also Art Alive: Summer Street Scene in Harlem and Jacob Lawrence’s Summer Street Scene in Harlem, 1948.

Curriculum Connections: Art, Civics, Social Studies

Grade Level: Elementary, Secondary

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Jacob Lawrence, The 1920's... The Migrants Arrive and Cast Their Ballots

Jacob Lawrence
The 1920’s… The Migrants Arrive and Cast Their Ballots


About Face: Copley’s Portrait of a Colonial Silversmith

About Face: Copley’s Portrait of a Colonial Silversmith explores the lives and work of two artists within colonial Boston prior to the outbreak of the American Revolution: portrait painter John Singleton Copley and silversmith Nathaniel Hurd.

See also John Singleton Copley’s Unfinished Portrait of Nathaniel Hurd, ca. 1765.

Curriculum Connections: Art, ELA, Social Studies

Grade Level: Elementary

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Copley, John Singleton, Unfinished Portrait of Nathaniel Hurd (1729-1777)

Copley, John Singleton
Unfinished Portrait of Nathaniel Hurd (1729-1777)


Albert Bierstadt’s The Sierras Near Lake Tahoe, California, 1865

Bierstadt’s paintings of the West gave nineteenth-century Americans a spectacular view of their expanding nation and its unique wonders. This lesson plan accompanies an essay in the Seeing America collection catalogue.

Curriculum Connections: Art, ELA, Social Studies

Grade Level: Secondary

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Albert Bierstadt, The Sierras Near Lake Tahoe, California

Albert Bierstadt
The Sierras Near Lake Tahoe, California


American Impressionism: Paintings from The Phillips Collection

Explore American Impressionism from this 2008 exhibition. Lesson plans include Capturing an Impression (Art), Impressionism in Literature (ELA) and The Landscape Architecture Movement (Social Studies).

Curriculum Connections: Art, ELA, Social Studies

Grade Level: Elementary, Secondary

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Ancient Egypt for Young Children

Mummies and more! Activities for pre-school to 3rd grade. Art, Math, Music, Literacy, Science, Social Studies lessons inspired by the coffins of Pa-debehu-Aset.

See also Egypt in the Art Room.

Curriculum Connections: Art, ELA, Music, Science, Social Studies

Grade Level: Elementary

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Egyptian mummy on loan from the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts

Egyptian mummy on loan from the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts


Animals in Art

Using objects in the Gallery’s collection, explore animals as pets, animals that work, animals in the wild, animal habitats, animals in fables, animals in myths, animals as symbols, and animals as teachers. Can be used as a pre-visit with the Animals in Art tour.

Standards: Art, ELA, Science, Social Studies

Grade Level: Elementary

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Attributed to M. W. Hopkins, Pierrepont Edward Lacey  (1832 - after 1860) and His Dog, Gun

Attributed to M. W. Hopkins
Pierrepont Edward Lacey (1832 – after 1860) and His Dog, Gun


Art Alive: Back from the Orchard

Interactive activities—looking, imagining, questioning and reflecting—based on Eastman Johnson’s painting Back from the Orchard.

Curriculum Connections: Art, ELA, Social Studies

Grade Level: Elementary

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Eastman Johnson, Back from the Orchard

Eastman Johnson
Back from the Orchard


Art Alive: Beach at Blue Point

Interactive activities—looking, imagining, questioning and reflecting—based on William Glacken’s painting Beach at Blue Point.

Curriculum Connections: Art, ELA, Music, Social Studies

Grade Level: Elementary

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William Glackens, Beach at Blue Point

William Glackens
Beach at Blue Point


Art Alive: Boomtown

Interactive activities—looking, imagining, questioning and reflecting—based on Thomas Hart Benton’s painting Boomtown.

See also Thomas Hart Benton’s Boomtown, 1928.

Curriculum Connections: Art, ELA, Music, Social Studies

Grade Level: Elementary

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Thomas Hart Benton, Boomtown

Thomas Hart Benton
Boomtown


Art Alive: Genesee Oaks

Interactive activities—looking, imagining, questioning and reflecting—based on Asher Brown Durand’s painting Genesee Oaks.

Curriculum Connections: Art, ELA, Social Studies

Grade Level: Elementary

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Asher Brown Durand, Genesee Oaks

Asher Brown Durand
Genesee Oaks


Art Alive: Pittsford on the Erie Canal

Interactive activities—looking, imagining, questioning and reflecting—based on George Harvey’s Pittsford on the Erie Canal.

See also George Harvey’s Pittsford on the Erie Canal: A Sultry Calm, 1837.

Curriculum Connections: Art, ELA, Music, Social Studies

Grade Level: Elementary

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George Harvey, Pittsford on the Erie Canal

George Harvey
Pittsford on the Erie Canal


The Art of Observation

What is “the art of observation”? Chart compares guided looking at art and science as inquiry.

Standards: Art, Science, Social Studies

Grade Level: Secondary

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Léon-Augustin Lhermitte, The Washerwomen

Léon-Augustin Lhermitte
The Washerwomen


Art Works: Art and Global Studies

Images from the Gallery’s collection show ways to use art in the classroom.

Curriculum Connections: Art, Social Studies

Grade Level: Secondary

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Art Works! Using Works of Art in the Social Studies Classroom

Autumn Brook

Use MAG’s visual literacy “Learning to Look, Looking to Learn” model, to explore George Bellow’s painting Autumn Brook.

Curriculum Connections: Art, ELA, Social Studies

Grade Level: Secondary

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George Bellows, Autumn Brook

George Bellows
Autumn Brook


Calling Every Man, Woman and Child!: American World War I Posters

Explore the political power of the poster, from MAG’s 2006 exhibition.

Curriculum Connections: Art, Civics, Social Studies

Grade Level: Elementary, Secondary

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James Montgomery Flagg, Wake Up, America! Civilization Calls Every Man, Woman and Child!

James Montgomery Flagg
Wake Up, America! Civilization Calls Every Man, Woman and Child!


Chimú Burial Mask

Full-size image with discussion question that introduces students to the culture of the Chimú people of northern Peru.

Curriculum Connections: Art, Social Studies

Grade Level: Elementary, Secondary

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Chimú  Burial Mask

Chimú
Burial Mask


The County Election

Teach American history through art and explore democracy in America through this print after George Caleb Bingham’s painting The County Election.

Curriculum Connections: Art, Civics, Social Studies

Grade Level: Elementary, Secondary

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John Sartain, The County Election

John Sartain
The County Election, lithograph


DeWitt Clinton Boutelle’s The Indian Hunter, 1846

Boutelle poignantly portrays the impact of Euro-American expansion on Native American culture. This lesson plan accompanies an essay in the Seeing America collection catalogue.

See also The Indian Hunter.

Curriculum Connections: Art, ELA, Social Studies

Grade Level: Secondary

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DeWitt Clinton Boutelle, The Indian Hunter

DeWitt Clinton Boutelle
The Indian Hunter


Evening Group

Use MAG’s visual literacy “Learning to Look, Looking to Learn” model, to explore George Bellow’s painting Evening Group.

Curriculum Connections: Art, ELA, Social Studies

Grade Level: Secondary

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George Bellows, Evening Group

George Bellows
Evening Group


Finger-Lakes & Genesee Heritage (FLAG Heritage)
The Finger Lakes & Genesee Heritage website provides a glimpse at the history and culture of the Finger Lakes and Genesee River Valley areas of upstate New York. A project of the Rochester Regional Library Council, images are contributed by libraries, colleges, museums, archives, and historical and cultural organizations in a five-county area which includes Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Wayne and Wyoming Counties. Images from the Memorial Art Gallery’s archival collections are included in this website.

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Finger Lakes & Genesee Heritage Logo

George Harvey’s Pittsford on the Erie Canal – A Sultry
Calm
, 1837

In this painting, Harvey portrays nineteenth-century America’s romantic view of nature, as well as the young country’s pride in its technological mastery. This lesson plan accompanies an essay in the Seeing America collection catalogue.

See also Art Alive: Pittsford on the Erie Canal.

Curriculum Connections: Art, ELA, Social Studies

Grade Level: Secondary

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George Harvey, Pittsford on the Erie Canal

George Harvey
Pittsford on the Erie Canal


George Luks’s Boy with Dice, 1923-24

Boy with Dice conveys George Luks’s affection for New York City’s workingclass children. This lesson plan accompanies an essay in the Seeing America collection catalogue.

Curriculum Connections: Art, ELA, Social Studies

Grade Level: Secondary

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George Luks, Boy with Dice

George Luks
Boy with Dice


Guidelines for Leading a Guided Looking Process in the Classroom

Use these guidelines to create visual literacy lesson plans using any object. Try the Learning to Look, Looking to learn model lesson plans to see the guidelines in use.

Curriculum Connections: Art, ELA, Social Studies

Grade Level: Elementary, Secondary

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students working with art materials in the classroom

Photo by Ria Casartelli


Honoring Heroes: American History and Public Sculpture

Explore American history and public sculpture through the art & life of sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, from MAG’s 2004 exhibition. Includes Rochester connections.

Curriculum Connections: Art, ELA, Social Studies

Grade Level: Secondary

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Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Shaw Memorial, Soldier Head

Augustus Saint-Gaudens
Shaw Memorial, Soldier Head


Jacob Lawrence’s Summer Street Scene in Harlem, 1948

Jacob Lawrence’s modernist painting captures the exuberance of post-World War II Harlem. This lesson plan accompanies an essay in the Seeing America collection catalogue.

See also The 1920s: The Migrants Arrive and Cast Their Ballots and Art Alive: Summer Street Scene in Harlem.

Curriculum Connections: Art, ELA, Social Studies

Grade Level: Secondary

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Jacob Lawrence, Summer Street Scene in Harlem

Jacob Lawrence
Summer Street Scene in Harlem


James Henry Beard’s The Night Before the Battle, 1865

The Night Before the Battle, painted shortly before the end of the Civil War, “makes the spectator glad that peace is come.” This lesson plan accompanies an essay in the Seeing America collection catalogue.

Curriculum Connections: Art, ELA, Social Studies

Grade Level: Secondary

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James Henry Beard, The Night Before the Battle, 1865

James Henry Beard
The Night Before the Battle, 1865


Jaune Quick-to-See Smith’s Famous Names, 1998

In Famous Names,/em>, references to the artist’s Native American and European heritage are combined and transformed into a powerful statement of contemporary identity. This lesson plan accompanies an essay in the Seeing America collection catalogue.

Curriculum Connections: Art, ELA, Social Studies

Grade Level: Secondary

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Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, Famous Names

Jaune Quick-to-See Smith
Famous Names


Jerome Myers’s Sunday Morning, 1907

Sunday Morning provides a loving glimpse of a New York immigrant neighborhood in the early twentieth century. This lesson plan accompanies an essay in the Seeing America collection catalogue.

See also Art Alive: Sunday Morning and Learning to Look, Looking to Learn: Sunday Morning model lesson plan.

Curriculum Connections: Art, ELA, Social Studies

Grade Level: Secondary

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Jerome Myers, Sunday Morning

Jerome Myers
Sunday Morning


John Koch’s Interlude, 1963

Artists’ works reflect the values of their times as well as their own points of view. This lesson plan accompanies an essay in the Seeing America collection catalogue.

Curriculum Connections: Art, ELA, Social Studies

Grade Level: Secondary

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John Koch, Interlude

John Koch
Interlude


John Singleton Copley’s Unfinished Portrait of Nathaniel Hurd, ca. 1765

Copley’s portrait of the colonial silversmith offers a view of pre-Revolutionary Bostonians: who they were and how they wanted to be seen. This lesson plan accompanies an essay in the Seeing America collection catalogue.

See also About Face: Copley’s Portrait of a Colonial Silversmith.

Curriculum Connections: Art, ELA, Social Studies

Grade Level: Secondary

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Copley, John Singleton, Unfinished Portrait of Nathaniel Hurd (1729-1777)

John Singleton Copley
Unfinished Portrait of Nathaniel Hurd (1729-1777)


John Sloan’s Election Night, 1907

Election Night captures the excitement—social, political, technological, and even artistic—of the early twentieth century in the United States. This lesson plan accompanies an essay in the Seeing America collection catalogue.

Curriculum Connections: Art, ELA, Social Studies

Grade Level: Secondary

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John Sloan, Election Night

John Sloan
Election Night


Morning on the River, ca. 1911-12

Morning on the River celebrates the energy and beauty of an urbanizing America in the early twentieth century. This lesson plan accompanies an essay in the Seeing America collection catalogue.

Curriculum Connections: Art, ELA, Social Studies

Grade Level: Secondary

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Jonas Lie, Morning on the River, ca. 1911-12

Jonas Lie
Morning on the River, ca. 1911-12


The Killing of Richard II

This interdisciplinary lesson explores Art as political propaganda, story telling and as a reflection of its time and culture.

Curriculum Connections: Art, ELA, Social Studies

Grade Level: Secondary

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Francis Wheatley, The Killing of Richard II

Francis Wheatley
The Killing of Richard II


Learning to Look, Looking to Learn: Genesee Oaks model lesson plan

Visual literacy model lesson plan includes worksheets guiding students through the process of looking at an art object and understanding its story.

See also Genesee Oaks, Art Alive: Genesee Oaks.

Curriculum Connections: Art, ELA, Social Studies

Grade Level: Elementary, Secondary

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Asher Brown Durand, Genesee Oaks

Asher Brown Durand
Genesee Oaks


Learning to Look, Looking to Learn: Peeling Onions model lesson plan

Visual literacy model lesson plan includes worksheets guiding students through the process of looking at an art object and understanding its story.

See also Lilly Martin Spencer’s Peeling Onions, ca. 1852.

Curriculum Connections: Art, ELA, Social Studies

Grade Level: Elementary, Secondary

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Lily Martin Spencer, Peeling Onions

Lily Martin Spencer
Peeling Onions


Learning to Look, Looking to Learn: Sunday Morning model lesson plan

Visual literacy model lesson plan includes worksheets guiding students through the process of looking at an art object and understanding its story.

See also Art Alive: Sunday Morning and Jerome Myers’s Sunday Morning, 1907

Curriculum Connections: Art, ELA, Social Studies

Grade Level: Elementary, Secondary

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Jerome Myers, Sunday Morning

Jerome Myers
Sunday Morning


Leaving for the Country: George Bellows at Woodstock

Explore the world of the Woodstock artist colony through George Bellows’ paintings Autumn Brook and Evening Group. From MAG’s 2003 exhibition.

Curriculum Connections: Art, ELA, Social Studies

Grade Level: Elementary, Secondary

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George Bellows, Autumn Brook

George Bellows
Autumn Brook


Lilly Martin Spencer’s Peeling Onions, ca. 1852

Peeling Onions presents a sympathetic view of mid-nineteenth-century domestic life in America by an artist who knew that world intimately. This lesson plan accompanies an essay in the Seeing America collection catalogue.

See also Learning to Look, Looking to Learn: Peeling Onions model lesson plan.

Curriculum Connections: Art, ELA, Social Studies

Grade Level: Secondary

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Lily Martin Spencer, Peeling Onions

Lily Martin Spencer
Peeling Onions


Looking at Lincoln

Looking activities to accompany MAG’s 2009 exhibition Lincoln in Rochester, which included Lincoln-related objects from area collections.

Standards: Art, Social Studies

Grade Level: Secondary

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Leonard Wells Volk, Life Mask and Hands of Abraham Lincoln

Leonard Wells Volk
Life Mask and Hands of Abraham Lincoln


Odyssey Online

An interactive journey for students through the art and culture of the ancient world, the ancient Americas and sub-Saharan Africa, from the collections of the Memorial Art Gallery & the Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University.

Curriculum Connections: Art, Social Studies

Grade Level: Elementary

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screenshot of Odyssey Online homepage

The Opposition

Explores William Gropper’s unflattering view of democracy in mid-20th century America.

See also Teaching American History Through American Art: Politically Aware Artists and William Gropper’s The Opposition, 1942.

Curriculum Connections: Art, Civics, Social Studies

Grade Level: Elementary, Secondary

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William Gropper, The Opposition

William Gropper
The Opposition


Passport to the Past

Introduces students to the Memorial Art Gallery’s popular tour of cultures of the past through 14 images from Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, Rome, Asia, and Medieval & Renaissance Europe in the Gallery’s permanent collection. Use the Passport to the Past Image Set as:

  • pre-tour preparation for classes planning a Gallery visit
  • post-Gallery tour discussions or activities
  • a stand-alone cultural highlights resource

Curriculum Connections: Art, Social Studies

Grade Level: Elementary, Secondary

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Roman Togatus statue

Roman Togatus statue


Picturing My America

Explore immigration and the complex communities we live in. Includes art making, art analysis, and a link to the The Rochester Homelands Exhibition.

Curriculum Connections: Art, ELA, Social Studies

Grade Level: Elementary, Secondary

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Jerome Myers, Sunday Morning

Jerome Myers
Sunday Morning


Picturing Ourselves: Teaching with Visual Documents

Peter Pappas uses art & photographs to analyze & discuss American history.

Curriculum Connections: Art, ELA, Social Studies

Grade Level: Elementary, Secondary

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Thomas Hart Benton, Boomtown

Thomas Hart Benton
Boomtown


Picturing the Story: Narrative Arts and the Stories they Tell

An interactive website that uses works of art as a springboard for an interdisciplinary approach to culture, environment, language, and learning. It was developed for classroom use, using selected narrative works of world art from the permanent collection of the Memorial Art Gallery.

Curriculum Connections: Art, ELA, Science, Social Studies

Grade Level: Elementary, Secondary

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screenshot from Picturing the Story website

Ralston Crawford’s Whitestone Bridge, 1939-40

Whitestone Bridge is a visual interpretation of the mid-twentieth-century fascination with technology and its promises for the future. This lesson plan accompanies an essay in the Seeing America collection catalogue.

Curriculum Connections: Art, ELA, Social Studies

Grade Level: Secondary

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Ralston Crawford, Whitestone Bridge

Ralston Crawford
Whitestone Bridge


Recycling the Past

Contemporary artist Willie Cole reinterprets his African roots: from Chi wara Crest to Sears Ross tji-wara (includes a worksheet on making art from recycled materials).

Curriculum Connections: Art, ELA, Social Studies

Grade Level: Secondary

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Willie Cole, Sears Ross tji wara (mother and child)

Willie Cole
Sears Ross tji wara (mother and child)


The Renaissance

A Sixth Grade Interdisciplinary Unit on the Renaissance created by Pittsford Middle School.

Curriculum Connections: Art, ELA, Music, Science, Social Studies

Grade Level: Elementary

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The Rochester Homelands Exhibition

Explore the 1920 Rochester Homelands Exhibition, in which the Gallery collaborated with the Chamber of Commerce, the Board of Education and the city administration in organizing a hugely successful 10-day exhibition celebrating the arts & culture of immigrant citizens.

Students explore original photographs & articles documenting Rochester’s celebration of its diverse population in 1920; includes guiding questions and art activities.

Standards: Art, Civics, ELA, Social Studies

Grade Level: Secondary

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Poster by public school students, 1920, for the Homelands Exhibition

Poster by public school students, 1920, for the Homelands Exhibition


Rochester Images Project

This image database hosted by Rochester Public Library is the first place to look for historic images of Rochester.

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Seeing America through Artist’s Eyes

17 lessons explore objects in the Gallery’s American collection, supplementing a visit to our American Gallery and the Seeing America collection catalogue.

Curriculum Connections: Art, ELA, Social Studies

Grade Level: Secondary

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Screenshot from the Seeing America website

Teaching American History Through American Art: Politically Aware Artists

Explore artwork between WWI & WWII as artists critique American society. Includes 5 artists from MAG collections.

See also The Opposition and William Gropper’s The Opposition, 1942.

Curriculum Connections: Art, Social Studies

Grade Level: Elementary, Secondary

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William Gropper, The Opposition, lithograph

William Gropper
The Opposition, lithograph


Teaching American History through American Art:
Rochester and the Genesee Valley

Explore art of Rochester, the Genesee River Valley and the Erie Canal.

Curriculum Connections: Art, ELA, Music, Social Studies

Grade Level: Elementary, Secondary

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Colin Campbell Cooper, Main Street Bridge

Colin Campbell Cooper
Main Street Bridge


Thomas Hart Benton’s Boomtown, 1928

Boomtown captures the spirit of a Texas oil town in the 1920s. This lesson plan accompanies an essay in the Seeing America collection catalogue.

See also Art Alive: Boomtown.

Curriculum Connections: Art, ELA, Social Studies

Grade Level: Secondary

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Thomas Hart Benton, Boomtown

Thomas Hart Benton
Boomtown


Thomas Ridgeway Gould’s The West Wind, 1876

The West Wind personifies the confidence of Americans as they celebrated the nation’s one hundredth birthday in 1876. This lesson plan accompanies an essay in the Seeing America collection catalogue.

Curriculum Connections: Art, ELA, Social Studies

Grade Level: Secondary

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Thomas Ridgeway Gould, The West Wind, 1876

Thomas Ridgeway Gould
The West Wind, 1876


Tradition in Transition: Russian Icons in the Age of the Romanovs

Brochure created to go with MAG’s 2008 exhibition of the same name. Includes discussion of MAG’s St. George Slaying the Dragon icon.

Standards: Art, Social Studies

Grade Level: Secondary

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School of Novgorod, St. George Slaying the Dragon

School of Novgorod
St. George Slaying the Dragon


Visual Literacy: “Learning to Look, Looking to Learn”

Use these resources to create visual literacy lesson plans using any object.

Curriculum Connections: Art, ELA, Science, Social Studies

strong>Grade Level: Elementary, Secondary

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students working with art materials in the classroom

Photo by Ria Casartelli


Summer Breezes, by 2006 Rochester Biennial artist Carol Taylor, was inspired by Tiffany Studio's Sunset Scene.

Summer Breezes, by 2006 Rochester Biennial artist Carol Taylor, was inspired by Tiffany Studio’s Sunset Scene.


William Gropper’s The Opposition, 1942

William Gropper fiercely satirizes the corruption and hypocrisy of the American Congress. This lesson plan accompanies an essay in the Seeing America collection catalogue.

See also The Opposition and Teaching American History Through American Art: Politically Aware Artists.

Curriculum Connections: Art, ELA, Social Studies

Grade Level: Secondary

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William Gropper
The Opposition


Some offsite links in these lesson plans may become outdated. They can often be found by plugging the url into the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine.