SBMA At School

Welcome teachers, families, and students! Use this page to discover art activities, writing prompts, and lesson plans on works of art in the Museum's permanent collection. All material has been developed by SBMA's Education Department and is organized by grade level and subject matter. See something you love? Or want us to develop a lesson plan around your curriculum? Share your thoughts and ideas at!

Educational Videos: Grades K – 12

Video Lessons for Educators
Playlist on YouTube
Art at Home Projects
Playlist on YouTube
Mindful Looking Meditations
Playlist on YouTube
Discovering the Ancient World
Playlist on YouTube
Art Sparks!
Playlist on YouTube
Artist Talks for Students
Playlist on YouTube

YOUR Sketchbook: Grades 2 – 6

Download the SBMA Sketchbook! Filled with creative writing ideas, drawing prompts, and inspirational artist quotes, this sketchbook invites students to express their imaginations through drawing, writing, thinking, and moving! Available to download in English/Spanish.

English Version
Download here
En Español
descarga aquí

Story Starters: Grades K – 5

These creative activities invite students to “put themselves in the picture” and then write and illustrate their own stories using artworks as inspiration.

Berthe Morisot
William Merritt Chase
Gustave Caillebotte
Thomas Eakins
George Luks
Gifford Beal
John Sloan
Jacob Lawrence
Rufino Tamayo
Llyn Foulkes
Inge Morath
Hashiguchi Goyo

Looking to Write: Grades 6 – 12

These creative writing prompts introduce students to important writers and artists. Through close examination of a work of art, students are invited to write their own poems, stories, essays, or letters.

Writing Narrative Essays about Being at Sea
Writing Haikus Inspired by the Color Blue
Writing Poems Inspired by Du Fu
Writing Descriptive Essays about Empty Rooms
Writing Handwritten Letters
Writing Opinion Pieces Inspired by Voting Rights
Writing Conjuring Poems Inspired by Día de los Muertos
Writing About People and Places Inspired by Smell
Writing Poems About Your Neighborhood
Writing Odes Inspired by Everyday Objects
Writing Poems Inspired by Gertrude Stein
Writing Poems Inspired by William Carlos Williams
Writing Self-Portrait Poems
Writing Poems Inspired by Juan Felipe Herrera
Writing Poems Inspired by Stillness
Writing Haibun Poems Inspired by Matsuo Basho
Writing Letters Inspired by Vincent van Gogh

Portrait of Mexico Today Mural: Grades 4 – 12

This resource for teachers and students explores David Alfaro Siqueiros' 1932 mural Portrait of Mexico Today. Housed on the front steps of SBMA, the artwork is the only fully intact mural by the artist painted in the United States and an important example of the Mexican Mural Movement. Filled with historical overviews of the artist's life and work, as well as writing prompts, hands-on art activities, research questions, and a crossword puzzle, the resource connects to California Content Standards in History-Social Studies, English Language Arts, and Ethnic Studies.

English Version
Download here
En Español
descarga aquí

A Closer Look: Grades 6 – 12

These interdisciplinary lesson plans invite students to explore one work of art from SBMA's permanent collection in closer detail. Connecting to California Content Standards in English Language Arts, History-Social Studies, and Ethnic Studies, each lesson plan includes a writing prompt, research question, and hands-on activity.  

Shiokawa Bunrin
Anish Kapoor
Kori Newkirk
Andrea Bowers
Berthe Morisot
Nelson Leirner
Rafael Perea de la Cabada
Buffalo Hunter
The Statue of Liberty
Hung Liu
Danny Lyon
Jacob Lawrence
Morrie Camhi

Compare and Contrast: Art + Social Justice: Grades 9 – 12

These slideshows invite students to compare and contrast two works of art from the Museum's permanent collection. Encouraging critical thinking and visual comprehension, they were created in collaboration with Santa Barbara-based high school teachers for the 9th-grade Ethnic Studies curriculum. Each slideshow relates to the theme of art and social justice, touching on topics including community, identity, oppression, social movements, and liberation. Meant to be supplemented to classroom curriculum, these pairings are intended to help start important, challenging, and even difficult conversations facilitated by teachers.

Compare and Contrast: Andy Warhol + Andrea Bowers
Compare and Contrast: Rafael Perea de la Cabada + Tony de los Reyes
Compare and Contrast: Carlee Fernandez + Alison Saar
Compare and Contrast: Photographs by Danny Lyon
Compare and Contrast: Enrique Chagoya + Nelson Leirner
Compare and Contrast: Kori Newkirk + Hung Liu
Compare and Contrast: Catherine Opie + Nan Goldin
Compare and Contrast: Tomoko Sawada + Shirin Neshat

Art + Climate Change: Grades 4 – 12

These interdisciplinary lesson plans consider the intersection of art and science, with special attention given to climate change and environmental activism. The lesson plans were developed as part of the Environmental Alliance of Santa Barbara County Museums, a 2022 community initiative exploring the impact of climate change through art, history, science, and nature.

Contemporary Artists on Climate Change, Grades 7 – 12
Monarch Butterfly Migration, Grades 4 – 8
Art + Nature: Grades 4 – 12

Discover Art Lessons and More! Grades K – 12

Using Google Classroom with your students? Explore our Google Drive for Educators filled with interactive slideshows, lesson plans, coloring pages, and more!

And for even more SBMA lesson plans, please visit our comprehensive lesson plan archive here. Organized by subject matter, discover plans related to the ancient world, math and science, and even creative movement exercises! All lesson plans relate back to special exhibitions or works of art in SBMA's permanent collection.

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