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Famous Americans (lesson plan)


In this lesson, students will learn about a famous American person. They will collaborate to create an poster-size image in the Pop Art style by adding color to individual squares.

Grade Levels
2nd Grade
Subject Areas
Social Studies, Visual Arts
NC Standards Correlations
Visual Arts
2.V.3, 2.CX.1, 2.CX.2
Social Studies

Artwork Related to this Lesson

  • American Landscape with Revolutionary Heroes

    American Landscape with Revolutionary Heroes, by Roger Brown

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  • George Washington (1732–1799)

    George Washington (1732–1799), by Rembrandt Peale

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  • Forward

    Forward, by Jacob Lawrence

    Forward dramatizes the life of Harriet Tubman (1820?-1913), “the Moses of her people.”...

    learn more

Student Learning Objectives

  1. Students can research a famous American and create a timeline of his or her life.
  2. Students can work as a team to create an image in the Pop Art style.
  3. Students can identify famous American Pop Artists.
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General Education Classroom

  • Students will research a famous American. While researching, students will find information about the person’s life including their contributions to the world.
  • Students will create a timeline showing 6-10 important events that occurred in the famous person’s life.
  • Students will find a variety of pictures of their famous American to use for the timeline.
  • Teacher will introduce the painting Forward to analyze how Harriet Tubman, a famous American, is presented by the artist Jacob Lawrence.
    • Teacher will use Visual Thinking Strategies to get students thinking and talking about the painting. The teacher will ask and have students to respond to the following three questions:
      • What is going on in this picture?
      • What do you see that makes you say that?
      • What more can we find?

Art Classroom:

  • Before the lesson begins, select a famous American that students will create a large-scale portrait of using squares from a grid image. Templates can be found at Scroll down for more examples. Prepare the squares that students will add color to to create the Pop Art Portrait.
  • Introduce Pop Art to students through the work of artists such as Andy Warhol and Richard Lichtenstein. More resources on Pop Art can be found from the Tate Museum in London and MOMA.
  • Students will study NCMA paintings of founding fathers from two time periods and styles. How are these paintings similar to each other? How are they different?
    • Roger Brown’s American Landscape with Revolutionary Heroes
    • Rembrandt Peale’s George Washington
  • Ask students how these paintings can be compared to the examples of Pop Art they saw. Revisit similar/different comparisons. (While Roger Brown’s work came after Pop Art rose to prominence in the 1950s and 1960s, he was also inspired by pop culture and comic books).
  • Explain to students that they will be completing one piece of a larger picture. They will not know the identity of the famous American until all pieces are completed and put together like a puzzle.
  • Pass out pieces. Have students color their piece in the style of Pop Artists, but remind them to color lighter or darker in the designated areas.

Art or General Classroom

Once students have put the image together, have them create a timeline of the person’s life as a class.


Students can collaborate on a poem about their famous American.

Written by NCMA Fellows Denise Knowles and Alison Milstead


  • Students’ timelines will include 6-10 events from their famous American’s life.
  • Students will include at least 3 pictures of their assigned person. 
  • Students will successfully complete their piece of the larger famous American person by choosing colors appropriate to Pop Art style and the designated light and dark areas of the square.

Lesson Resources


Pop Art







iPads for research

Poster board for timelines

Colored pencils

Enlarged (400%) pieces of the famous American’s picture


Pop Art: Tate Museum

Pop Art: MOMA

Pop Art Portrait Templates

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