ART IN THE CLASSROOM: THE TOPSY-TURVY WORLD

“Art is all around us”.

My today’s post is a lesson plan built around Netherlandish Proverbs (Nederlandse Spreekwoorden), a 1559 painting with literal illustrations of 200 Dutch proverbs and idioms by the Flemish artist Pieter Bruegel the Elder, offering an engaging way of working with art and language.

Level: B2+.

Step 1.

Tell your students that these are pieces/details of the 1559 painting by the Flemish artist Pieter Bruegel. Have them study and describe what they see. (Click the following link to download the PowerPoint presentation to use in the classroom netherlandish-proverbs). Based on the details, get them sharing ideas what this painting might depict.

Language focus: seems to/looks like; modal verbs of deduction

Show the whole painting and ask the students to find the details on the painting.

*Students can zoom in on particular scenes of the painting in the Google Art Project here.

bruger

Ask the students if they have seen this painting before. What does it depict? Which scenes do they find particularly interesting? Language focus: in the foreground/background; in the middle/center; at the top/bottom; on the left/right; behind/in front of.

Step 2.

Play the video and ask the students to note down what the four pieces mean.

 

Click the following link to download the worksheet – handout.

Get the students to pick a piece they find interesting and find what stands behind in the Expressions Featured in the Painting here. Have the students describe the scene and their impressions (use the worksheet as a scaffold).

Step 3. 

Ask your students to think of proverbs/sayings in their language that describe human behaviour (or get them to pick a few scenes from the painting and compare the sayings in their language) and their equivalents in English (iDiom Corner may be handy). Hand out post-it notes and ask the students to draw the proverb/saying they chose and put all their post-its together – their Topsy-Turvy World is ready.

Happy teaching!

* * *

Other resources:

USING ART IN THE CLASSROOM: LESSON PLAN

The Best Resources For Using Art As A Way To Teach & Learn English from Larry Ferlazzo

 

Image: Pieter Brueghel the Elder (1526/1530–1569) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

10 Comments

    • Thank you, Adi! The Art and Ideas course is just fantastic (I think I learnt about it from one of your MOOCs for teachers lists – a huge thank you for taking the time and effort, Adi! So useful!). Got a huge boost of inspiration – contemplating a few modern art lesson ideas now.

  1. Great lesson!
    You reminded me of a very similar lesson I prepared more than 5 years ago on Brueghel”s ‘Peasant Wedding’ using Google Art’s zoom function. My lesson is based more on finding & guessing leading to descriptions. I’ll see if I can get it on my blog tomorrow! Excellent stimulating work! It”s so nice to use artwork like this so one teaches art appreciation at the same time.

  2. Great lesson!
    You reminded me of a very similar lesson I prepared more than 5 years ago on Brueghel”s ‘Peasant Wedding’ using Google Art’s zoom function. My lesson is based more on finding & guessing leading to descriptions. I’ll see if I can get it on my blog tomorrow! Excellent stimulating work! It”s so nice to use artwork like this so one teaches art appreciation at the same time.

  3. Thank you for sharing this lesson. I’m planning to use it today and I am so excited my students and I love art.
    I’m thinking of a follow up activity connected to creating some kind of story related to a scene my students feel most attracted to.

    Many thanks and hugs

  4. Thank you for sharing this lesson. I’m planning to use it today and I am so excited my students and I love art.
    I’m thinking of a follow up activity connected to creating some kind of story related to a scene my students feel most attracted to.

    Many thanks and hugs

      • Dear Svetlana,

        As I could feel and anticipate this lesson worked super well, actually I think we already turned into a project. Bruegel is so rich that when we got into Google Art Project, we started to discover the importance of “learning to see”.

        Some reflections that came up:
        How many things we are not aware of, just because we don’t take the time to see things around us.
        How can we change our perspective into being more aware of the good stuff that is everywhere? (Gratitude and mindfulness)
        Patterns we do not see and then once we see them, we can not unsee them. (The Hidden Portrait of Voltaire by Dali). This came up as one of my learners realized that she had seen a cop under the wooden table when in fact when paying attention it’s a man extending his hand like wanting to help someone.

        This happened just by working with the scenes and then exploring Google Art project website.

        With gratitude and love,

        Debbie

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