Critique, Chat and Create

Spotlight on Strategies


One of the most challenging tasks in the art room is a critique. Both for the students and the teacher. While students are being exposed to influential and historical artwork, the task of getting a conversation rolling is usually a hard one. Research by the College Board for the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards states that , "In the elementary grades, students will begin to rely more on verbal means of communication." (p.5) Because of this, we need to keep the lines of communication going, even in the art room. They have also stated that, "Recommendations for several disciplines involved the use of reflection and critical thinking activities into arts instruction; for example, visual art teachers are encouraged to conduct guided conversations about selected works of art with students, using strategies meant to increase their observation and critical thinking skills." (p.6) This SOS is geared towards engaging the students in a conversation about artwork in a more interesting and collaborative way. The students will then use an interactive website to create artwork based on the artist of inspiration.

Example: Henri Rousseau - Critique, Chat and Create

  • Have students view the video on artist Henri Rousseau
  • Break students into small groups and give each group paper large pieces of paper
  • Show the students an image from the Rousseau gallery below
  • Each group has a different critique task to chat about:

Table Top Twitter: Each student in the group must come up with a review of the artwork in 140 characters or less.

Strengths and Weaknesses: The group creates a graphic organizer with strengths and weaknesses about the artwork.

Interview: Each student in the group must come up with a question to ask the artist about the artwork as if they were interviewing them.

What's Next?: The group must come up with a story of what might have happened before the image in the painting or what would come next.

Title It: Without telling the students the title of the artwork, have each student in the group come up with their own title or a caption for the piece.

  • Have each group present their "chat" to the rest of the class.
  • Have students use NGAkids Jungle to create their own jungle scene inspired by the artwork of Henri Rousseau


This SOS could work for many artists and genres listed on the NGA Kids Art Zone. Choose another artist or genre and build your own Critque, Chat and Create!

  • Portrait
  • Landspace
  • Collage
  • Claude Monet
  • Vincent van Gogh
  • Mark Rothko


Dougherty, S. (2014, March 14). 10 Creative Techniques to Try This School Year [Web log post]. Retrieved from

Rousseau, H. (1908) Exotic Landscape (Painting). Retrieved October 10, 2015 from

Rousseau, H. (1909). The Equatorial Jungle (Painting). Retrieved October 10, 2015 from

Rousseau, H. (1910). Tropical Forest with Monkeys (Painting). Retrieved October 10, 2015 from

The College Board, Child Development and Arts Education: A Review of Recent Research and Best Practices, New York, N.Y., January 2012. Retrieved from