“Ouch, my neck!” and “Ouch, my back!” were frequent sayings I heard while teaching an art lesson on Michelangelo and how he painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome. I was student teaching in a third-grade classroom and I had to plan a great, engaging lesson because my student teaching supervisor was coming in to supervise and evaluate my teaching for the first time. Scary! I found this great lesson in one of my master teacher’s resource books. It was TCR’s Focus on Artists book. Who knew that I’d be working as an editor at TCR years later!
So I had it all planned out . . . During recess, I quickly taped a blank sheet of paper underneath each student’s desk. My supervisor and the students arrived at the door of the classroom just as I had finished. To start the lesson, I introduced who Michelangelo was, and together as a class, we read some background information about him and how he painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. I also brought in pictures of him and his work to show the class.
Then I told the students that they were going to create art to simulate the way Michelangelo painted the famous ceiling. I told everyone to, “get out their crayons and lay on the floor, underneath the desks.” Nobody moved at first. The looks on their faces were priceless. After a few confused seconds, everyone did as they were told and were surprised to see that a sheet of paper had been taped underneath their desks that whole time. (The fact that I had taped them all ahead of time really saved on wasted class time, too.)
The students had a blast drawing upside down, but they did not enjoy the pain and discomfort they felt while doing it! It was great to see that they truly understood what a great undertaking the painting of the Sistine Chapel ceiling was. Their feelings became even more evident to me after reading their reflections later. The next day, the students were happily surprised when they saw all of their artwork nicely displayed on the ceiling of the classroom!
Needless to say, I was so happy with the way the lesson turned out, and so was my supervisor. (Check out some of the pictures from my lesson.) So if you’re looking for a fun and different lesson idea, try this one in your class and see the smiling (and aching) expressions on the faces of your students today! I’d love to hear about your students’ reactions.