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Museum Mystery Painting
This idea works well for multcultural and multiage groups. Color copies of paintings by Edward Hopper are posted around the room, with titles removed. The paintings have to be similar, or the activity won't work! (I have used "Nighthawks," "New York Office," and the series Hopper did on lighthouses).
Groups of three or four students are also given a stapled packet of the same paintings, and are asked to choose ONE painting. They should list all the details they find in the painting on a sheet of paper (this is great for vocabulary-building).
Then, the groups are asked to write a paragraph in which they describe the painting objectively, but in such detail that a person entering the classroom/museum would be able to identify it on the wall without too much head-scratching. (NOTE: the students can't be too obvious with their descriptions, but not too vague either -- this teaches them careful use of vocabulary and sensory detail).
A group member reads their paragraph to the rest of the class, and other groups have to guess which painting it is. As an alternative, I have had other classes, (or another teacher!) come in to try to guess.
Students have really enjoyed this activity, and they are very careful with their use of the language!
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