How Art can be used to Teach History

What did Washington wear when he crossed the Delaware? Lessons in history are taught in many ways. The lessons are present in books, Internet articles, documentaries, research articles and art. You’ll find the answer to the question about Washington by checking out the artwork titled, ‘George Washington Crossing the Delaware,’ at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. A resourceful teacher uses every avenue available to teach the students about history. Using art is a wonderful way to show students how the west was won as well as many other historical lessons.

Historical posters: Use a historical poster of artwork, such as, ‘The First Thanksgiving,’ by Jeannie Augusta Brownscombe. Share the artwork with the students. Share a first person account with the students. Use the picture and the writing to help students understand the events that led up to the first Thanksgiving.

Photographs: Students can read about the depression, but nothing helps them understand the agony of those affected as well as pictures of the period. Show the pictures to the students and lead them in a discussion. Give each student a copy of the photo and ask them to write an essay about the photograph based on what they have learned. This same lesson can be used on many different historical events.

Masks: A study of African history is not complete without the use of African masks. Use the masks to help the students learn about the rituals and religious ceremonies they were used for by the people group. Pictures of masks can be used, as can a visit to a museum. After discussing the history behind the masks, have students make their own masks using balloon, paper mâchè, and paint. Each student should be prepared to discuss the role of their mask in history.

Pottery: The history of time can be told with the use of pottery. A visit to an art museum will lead to an understanding of different time periods. The complexity of the artwork developed over time. Students can try to replicate a piece of artwork back in the classroom with the aid of photographs or drawings. Take pictures of the artwork and create a class book with each student writing about the time period from their individual pieces of artwork.

Sculpture: Time periods in history are often defined by their artwork. The Renaissance is one period when sculptures created pieces of noteworthy pieces that have survived to this day. A slide-show of various pieces will help students understand the times. They are also excellent resources to teach about the lives of artists.

Art is not just something to hang on the walls in your classroom. It is an excellent teaching resource to help your students understand the history each piece represents. Use it in your classroom to bring history alive for your students.