A group of educators gathered in the museum galleries listening and writing

Photo: Bryan Conley

Education Resources

Lesson Plans

The lessons throughout Reading Art Like Text examine the intersection of text and image through examples drawn from Carnegie Museum of Art’s online collection. Lessons in this interdisciplinary curriculum engage K–12 students in the subject areas of English language arts, social studies, mathematics, and science. Many of the questions throughout, long used by museum educators, support the practice of close reading and analytical thinking as prescribed in the Common Core State Standards. This resource is intended to help teachers incorporate art into their teaching practice in ways that address those standards. Teachers should feel free to adapt these lessons to their particular needs.

*Disclaimer: All images are to be used for in-classroom, educational purposes only. Any reproduction of these images, including on the web, requires additional written permission from Carnegie Museum of Art and any applicable copyright holders.


Painting depicting woman surrounded by mob, religious figures, and people in morning

A Continuous Story

By observing and discussing visual details such as color and action found in the painting The Penance of Eleanor, Duchess of Gloucester, students will create a story with the past, present and future details of the characters’ lives.

Collage depicting abstract city scape with figures and smoke stacks

A Day in the Life

In this lesson, students will observe and discuss the visual details such as color and action found Pittsburgh Memories by Romare Bearden. Students will then write a “day in the life” story about one of the characters in the collage.

Painting of a bearded man with hands folded and resting on his knee

Art and Authors

In this lesson, students will interpret and discuss mood, tone, and body language of a piece/portrait based on their observations. Students will then discuss how authors create characters similar to artists. Teachers will then pick a character from a book the class is reading and have students compare and contrast that character with the character in the piece they are observing.

Contemporary wooden chair designed with a zig-zag shape

Chairs in Space Design

In this lesson, students will observe and discuss a variety of chairs and determine whether they are aesthetically pleasing, supportive, and how they were constructed. Students will then do their own research and use their journals to design a chair that can withstand space travel and the atmosphere of Mars.

Painting of human face covered with a network of lines, shapes, and other forms

Comparing Portraits

In this lesson, students will compare two portraits and write dialogue based on their observations. They will share their writing and discuss similarities and differences between the two works. Students will then write a mock commission letter to one of the artists requesting a portrait done of them.