Ideas for classroom learning


Visiting the Gallery is a special learning opportunity for students. There is nothing quite like being able to see a work of art in person, or as we say in the arts; 'in the round'.

Teachers and educators know that incorporating related learning activities both before and after their visit to the Gallery will help students retain what they have learned. So we have put together a list of ideas for classroom activities, based off the Key Ideas in the Australian Curriculum: Arts (Visual Arts). These ideas can be easily adapted to suit students of all ages, and can be used as a jumping-off point to start conversations, extend learning and explore issues and themes you might discuss when you come to visit us (or for that matter, any Gallery).

Before your visit

  • Explore what your students already know about materials and techniques, art movements or styles, or even the arts industry and professional roles within it. Start a discussion so that you can establish an idea of what they already know about the art world and how it operates.
  • Get your students to visit the Newcastle Art Gallery website and familiarise themselves with the current exhibition pages relevant for the exhibitions they will come to see. Ask them to prepare a report of interesting facts or information they find on our website.
  • What do the terms ‘contemporary’ and ‘art’ mean? As a class, brainstorm definitions for each word individually. Next, develop a possible definition for ‘contemporary art’ as a phrase, and then confirm your definition with a dictionary. As a group, discuss what makes contemporary art different to art from the past.
  • Contemporary art can sometimes be challenging and difficult. Discuss this idea with your class and chat about what they will experience, appreciate, and learn as a result of their visit to the Gallery.
  • You could ask younger students to describe why rules in an Art Gallery are important or different, or get older students to further explore ideas about copyright or artwork conservation with further study.
  • Works of art are fragile, and one of the Gallery's roles is to protect and conserve them. Ask your students to create a work of art that is intentionally temporary - a temporary installation or a work of art made from materials that cannot be conserved, such as chalk, ice or even food. Ask older students to consider what are some of the limitations are that collecting institutions such as art galleries face, and how they might find solutions.

After your visit

  • Encourage your students to think about the works of art that they liked, and think about why. How did they feel when viewing the works? Was there a particular idea or a particular medium they preferred? Did they find the works of art beautiful? Discuss with your class the statement ‘I like art that…’
  • Visit an artist's website or YouTube channel to find out more about a particular artist's experience, style or favourite subjects . You could continue this idea in a practical way and make works of art inspired by their techniques or ideas.
  • Set your students a task to select a work of art during their visit that they must then use as inspiration for a performance, song, poem or prose of their own design.
  • Were any of the works of art that you saw at the Gallery sculptural? (Don't forget to explore our permanent outdoor sculpture display during your visit). Design your own sculpture suitable for display outside of the classroom, or even host an outdoor sculpture exhibition in the school grounds.
  • Ask your students to develop their own collections, or perhaps they have some of their own at home they can bring in to share. Ask older students to consider how they 'curate' the things they display in their bedroom or the music they listen to.