SBMA At School

Welcome teachers, families, and students! Use this page to discover art activities, writing prompts, lesson plans, videos, and more—all developed by SBMA's Education Department and based on works in the Museum’s permanent collection. Below, you’ll find featured lessons for the 2023–24 academic year. To find out more about current and upcoming exhibitions, please visit the Exhibitions Page.

See something you love? Want us to develop a lesson plan around your curriculum? Share your thoughts and ideas at

Cross Curricular Lessons and Activities

Grades K – 12

Explore the Google Drive for Educators to find printable pdfs of all the lessons listed below and many more.

The Things We Touch, The Things We Carry
Download here
Beatrice Wood Portrait Activity
Download here

Story Starters: Writing Activities

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. Find more ideas on the Google Drive for Educators.

Llyn Foulkes
Jacob Lawrence
Berthe Morisot
Rufino Tamayo

Looking to Write: Writing Activities

Grades 6 – 12

These 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. Find more prompts on the Google Drive for Educators.

Writing Conjuring Poems Inspired by Día de los Muertos
Writing Opinion Pieces Inspired by Voting Rights
Writing Poems Inspired by Du Fu

A Closer Look: Interdisciplinary Activities

Grades 6 – 12

These interdisciplinary lesson plans invite students to explore works 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. Find more lessons on the Google Drive for Educators.

Hung Liu
Danny Lyon
Berthe Morisot

Portrait of Mexico Today Mural: Historical Study

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

Relating Science and Art: 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. Find more on the Google Drive for Educators.

Art + Nature: Grades 4 – 12
Contemporary Artists on Climate Change, Grades 7 – 12

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. Find more slideshows on the Google Drive for Educators.

Compare and Contrast: Enrique Chagoya + Nelson Leirner
Compare and Contrast: Photographs by Danny Lyon
Compare and Contrast: Carlee Fernandez + Alison Saar

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 or Spanish.

English Version
Download here
En Español
descarga aquí

Educational Videos: SBMA YouTube Channel

Grades K – 12

Find art instruction videos, guided mindful meditation, artist talks and more on SBMA’s YouTube Channel.

Mindful Looking:
Linda Connor's Open Wall
Artist Talk:
Hung Liu
Art Spark:
Coffee Painting

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.

Santa Barbara Art Museum

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