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Portraits of Frida | Arts & Activities
Sep 2015

Portraits of Frida

Portraits of Frida

We all know the feeling of impending doom that accompanies having to miss a day of work. No matter how wonderful the substitute, it just seems like art is one of those subjects that no one really feels comfortable teaching. None of us wants to return to work to find a classroom in disarray and that students did coloring sheets.

This lesson plan is engaging, which helps students maintain our high expectations for behavior. It’s easy for a substitute to follow and uses familiar materials. Perhaps most important, this lesson is constructive to students’ mastery of core art standards.

To prepare materials for a substitute, conduct a Google search for images of “Frida Kahlo,” which will return photographs, self-portraits, and other artists’ portrayals of her. Print examples of these three types of images and slip them into a substitute lesson-plan folder. Be sure to include this month’s A&A Art Print.

Leave instructions for the substitute to begin the lesson by sharing and discussing with students the three types of images of Frida Kahlo in the folder. He or she should point out how some are realistic and some are not. For instance, the photographs are obviously realistic, but some of the artists’ renderings have pink hair, blue skin or other interesting features.


Frida Kahlo is a perfect subject for this substitute lesson plan.

Next, the sub will give students pencils and a half-sheets of paper, then provide simple instructions on how to draw a portrait. Students can brainstorm and practice on the backs of their papers by drawing thumbnail sketches.

Once students feel comfortable, they may then draw on the front of the paper. Be sure the sub knows that they can make their work abstract or realistic.

Students will then add color to their work. I recommend crayons because they’re a safe medium for a substitute to manage, and most adults have some form of background experience using them.
For the finishing touch, paper scraps, sequins and glue should be available, with which students can create flowers for Frida’s hair.
If you think you might have a sub who is uncomfortable helping students draw, include a printout of a step-by-step for his or her enlightenment only. It should provide just enough information so he or she can help students who might get stuck or have a hard time getting started with their drawings. Be sure the sub knows not to teach the students to draw exactly from these steps. The students should be looking at Frida’s face and trying to draw what they see.
Children find Frida fascinating for a number of reasons—her oft-visible facial hair and colorful Tehuana dresses, for example. They will be interested in viewing the images of her. They’ll also benefit from drawing what they see, working with mixed media, and making the decision whether to make their own work abstract or realistic.

Elementary students will …
• become familiar with artist Frida Kahlo.
• recognize different types of portraits.
• create a portrait of Frida Kahlo using a variety of artistic processes and materials.

• Creating: Conceiving and developing artistic ideas and work.
• Presenting: Interpreting and sharing artistic work.
• Connecting: Relating artistic ideas/work with external context.

• Drawing paper, pencils, crayons
• Portraits of Frida.
Construction-paper scraps, sequins, glue

Amanda Koonlaba, NBCT, teaches art at Lawhon Elementary School in Tupelo, Mississippi.



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