“Ouch, My Neck! Ouch, My Back!” Creating Art Michelangelo Style

“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.

Michelangelo Style Art Lesson

Creating Art Michelangelo Style

Michelangelo Art Lesson

3 thoughts on ““Ouch, My Neck! Ouch, My Back!” Creating Art Michelangelo Style”

  1. Susan C.

    My own children did this art lesson in elementary school and loved it! The school had an art show where all the parents could come and view the art – the children had as much fun talking about how they did the art as they did the actual pictures!

  2. alilmsartie

    My two youngest home schooled children and I read about Michelangelo, his history, his fame, and I printed many color pictures of his works. Naturally, The Sistine Chapel was an immediate favorite. After a couple of days of “Michelangelo Mania”, I took white card stock type paper and covered our detachable round glass dining room table with it. Using resources from the wonderful web, we decided on a theme and I divided up pie sized pieces, each child drawing and coloring 3 sections on the paper which was now secured with tape to our table. Our dining table alas, became a fine replica of an artistic ceiling. When these future artists were finished, we ooooo’ed and aaaaah’ed at the masterpiece, then flipped it over, and sat underneath to view it and ooo’ed and aaa’ed from below. An added bonus for me was that we had to order out for a couple of nights, which meant I didn’t have to cook. The children learned a lot of Michelangelo and The Sistine Chapel and we had a ball doing it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>