Montana Historical Society

Big Sky ~ Big History

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Lessons Using Art from the Montana Historical Society

Montana’s Charlie Russell (1-12) The Montana Historical Society boasts one of the best collections of Charles M. Russell art in the world. We invite you to bring your class to tour Russell’s masterpieces in person—but if you can’t come to Helena, we’re happy to help you bring the Cowboy Artist to your classroom with eight lessons aligned to the Montana Common Core, Art and Social Studies Standards, biographical PowerPoints (one designed for elementary students, the other for upper grades), and images of sixteen Russell paintings, letters, and sculptures. 

The Art of Storytelling: Plains Indian Perspectives (K-12). Designed to provide you and your students with an exciting way to incorporate Indian Education for All into your art curriculum, “The Art of Storytelling” includes grade-appropriate lesson plans aligned to the Essential Understandings and the Montana Art Content Standards. Also included are three PowerPoint presentations—one focused on winter counts and two about ledger art—and other material to help you explore winter counts and biographical art.

Beautiful Tradition: Ingenuity and Adaptation in a Century of Plateau Women's Art (4-12)  Three grade-appropriate versions of this curriculum, for fourth/fifth grade, middle school, and high school, provide you and your students with an introduction to this colorful and distinctive art form. The PowerPoint presentations; worksheets; and other material are aligned with the Essential Understandings regarding Montana Indians and offer an interdisciplinary avenue for exploring Plateau tribes, cultural change and continuity, and tribal members ability to adapt to new circumstances while preserving a strong sense of cultural identity.

Reader's Theater: Letters Home from Montanans at War (Designed for 7th-12th). This three-to-five period unit asks students to work in groups to read and interpret letters written by soldiers at war, from the Civil War to the Operation Iraqi Freedom. After engaging in close reading and conducting research to interpret the letters, they will perform the letters as reader’s theater. Preview this lesson by watching Rob Hoffman perform one of the letters, a 2005 email from Helenan Cory Swanson, who was serving in Iraq.