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Beginner ELL Activities

Use the following artworks and activities to build your students' comprehension, speaking, and writing skills.

Amedeo Modigliani, Woman with Red Hair, 1917, oil on canvas, Chester Dale Collection, 1963.10.176

Writing Activity: How would you describe the mood of the woman in this painting? What do you think she might be thinking? Write a few sentences from the point of view of the woman. Use the descriptive word cards (PDF 34KB) as a starting point.

George Bellows, New York, 1911, oil on canvas, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, 1986.72.1

Writing Activity: What nouns, verbs, and adjectives can you list in looking at this painting? Using the Nouns-Verbs-Adjectives worksheet (PDF 34KB), write as many words in English as you can think of, then write more words in your native language. Work together as a class to translate the words not written in English.

Leonardo da Vinci, Ginevra de' Benci [obverse], c. 1474/1478, oil on panel, Ailsa Mellon Bruce Fund, 1967.6.1.a

Speaking Activity: How would you describe this woman? Who do you imagine she was? Is she young or old? What puzzles you about this painting? Do you like it? Why or why not? Use the descriptive word cards (PDF 34KB) as a starting point.

Wayne Thiebaud, Cakes, 1963, oil on canvas, Gift in Honor of the 50th Anniversary of the National Gallery of Art from the Collectors Committee, the 50th Anniversary Gift Committee, and The Circle, with Additional Support from the Abrams Family in Memory of Harry N. Abrams, 1991.1.1

Speaking Activity: What words can you think of to describe what you see in this painting? What desserts do you like to eat or make for happy times and celebrations? Sketch your favorite dessert and then describe it to the rest of the class.

Mary Cassatt, Little Girl in a Blue Armchair, 1878, oil on canvas, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, 1983.1.18

Writing Activity: How would you describe the girl in this painting? How would you describe the dog? Complete the I am poem worksheet (PDF 31KB), taking on the perspective of either the dog or the girl in this painting. Alternatively, write down one or two sentences describing what either the dog or the girl is thinking.