Reading Revolutions:  Ideas for Teaching

Learning Activities:  Themes of Freedom in Art

These activities are based on methods used to stimulate creativity.  In each the students are encouraged to think of multiple approaches to problems, not just the right or best one.  A good clue to the success of the exercise is whether the kids think of funny solutions to the problem.  When they reach that point and go past it, they may be able to come up with some unique and interesting ideas, not just the expected classroom responses.  It is important to remember to laugh with them and to accept all ideas.  They will be able to make judgements later about which are the best.

Brain Storming

Begin by having a brainstorming session with the class.  How many different kinds of freedom can they think of?  Freedom of the press, freedom from want, freedom to vote, freedom of expression are a few you can use to prime the pump.  The second phase of the exercise is to either have them write a story illustrating the freedom or to draw a picture with symbols of the freedom of their choice.  Try to make sure that there is a wide diversity in the types of freedom the students choose.  The third phase is to have the students describe how their work includes symbols of freedom.

Understanding Symbols

A second exercise is to have the students search art books in the library for images of freedom.  If your library has a wealth of old magazines, they can use those as well.  Many students will come up with patriotic pictures or paintings.  This can lead to a discussion of why they think that those are images of freedom as well as of patriotism.

Computer Presentations

Magna Carta describes some of the basic rights and freedoms desired by people in the 1200's.  Students should form groups to create a computer presentation describing and illustrating each of the main points, for instance; trial by jury, freedom of religion, or rights of inheritance.  The students are free to include images on this website in their presentation. 

Marilyn Shea
Professor of Psychology
University of Maine at Farmington