Have you ever had a learning activity that was so fun that your students laughed until they cried and fell out of their chairs? This art description and drawing art appreciation activity is one of my go-to activities for great practice at analyzing art while making amusing art connections.
In this activity, students are forced to look closely at an artwork and notice all of the details while practicing their language and art description skills.
If you prefer to watch rather than read, I did a Facebook Live about this activity early in the month. (Facebook video not working below? Click here to see it on YouTube.)
Art Description and Drawing Activity
Here’s how it goes. Divide your class into partner pairs. Each pair sits so that one student can see the artwork and one cannot. You can either have the artwork projected onto the wall or give one member of each group a printed copy of the artwork. (Hint: If you’re using your computer to project the artwork image, don’t forget to hide your screen from the students who are drawing!)
Want a document of suggested artworks for this activity? Snag a freebie PowerPoint with artworks!
Drawing Description Game
This incredible art appreciation game is a great way to engage students with works of art! This presentation includes several artworks plus blank sides to make playing the game easy.
The student who can see the artwork then must describe the artwork to the other student in detail while they draw it based only on the art description. The describing student must not point to or draw on the drawing student’s paper.
As students work, walk around the room and encourage them to use their words only. Help students come up with metaphors and art descriptions when they are struggling.
For example, some of my students struggled when faced with this artwork.
Many students said it was a face but had trouble going beyond that. I asked them to think about what the shape looked like overall, and many said it looked like a whale or a fish. That gave them a jumping off point. I also modeled other metaphor ideas—like a vacuum was pulling all the skin from your head from the back. After I said that, one student said it was like a blow dryer was blowing all the skin from the head into a point. Not the perfect descriptions, but they helped students process and describe the shapes that they were seeing.
I find this activity to be especially great for my English Language Learners. In one artwork, I chose a painting where a tea kettles transformed into a tree. The drawing student didn’t know what a tea kettle was, and the describing student had to figure out a way to describe it using other words. It was a great challenge for her and made her push beyond the word tea kettle into describing the lines, shape, form, and function of the object she was trying to describe.
After students finish, do the final reveal and have the drawers look at what they were trying to draw. Let the laughter ensue!
In one 50-minute class period, you should be able to fit about four rounds of this activity where each student gets to draw twice and describe twice.
Want to try it out with your students? Click below to download a free PowerPoint to get you started.
Curious about the artwork that caused my 9th graders to fall out of their chairs? Check out What You See Might Not Be Real by Chen Wenling. You’re welcome.
Cindy, I think you’re great!! I have avoided Art History with my students because of the boredom factor, but you make it fun and interesting. Thanks so much! – Rita
Awesome! Thanks so much for the note. I am so excited that you’ve found the fun in art history! 🙂
Thanks for generously sharing your ideas and experience. As a new relief teacher I will be happy to have some ideas that I can use across year levels.
Great day, I am unable to download the pictures.
Did you enter your email to get the PowerPoint?
ya i did but still unable to
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get it to you! 🙂
Hi- this sounds like a great idea! I am unable to download your powerpoint though. It takes me to a question about who I am- teacher, etc… but then doesn’t move past that screen. Is there another way I can get this?
Hmm. It seems to be working on our end, but I’ll send it to your email. 🙂
I apologize there was an error on my email address. This one is the correct address.
I’ve resent it to you, Tammy! But it may still be blocked by your school. If so, you can request it again above with a personal email address.
I’m so excited about this exercise and would love to use it with my students but the powerpoint will not download for me or even get to the point where it asks for my email. I’m able to download the other lessons but not this one. Please help. Thank you.
Just sent to your email! 🙂
I was waiting for the powerpoint hoping for the pictures to view them and plan my lesson but it never came. this was for the description drawing lesson.
I also saw you could email for worksheets on art appreciation but it is also on TPT for free? I am assuming the one on TPT is more extensive?
either way I have sent emails to request them and never got an email
I know I have to use my personal now because it will not deliver to my work.
Sometimes our emails go to spam or are blocked by school filters, so you may want to check that. I just double checked the system and they came to my email. We have a few different packages of worksheets, so I’m not sure which ones you’re referring to. If you email us at email@example.com, we’re happy to help. 🙂