Living Statues

Art and Language Arts Activity

Children look at pictures of famous heroes as they were captured by painters or, especially, sculptors, and consider the meaning of such memorials.



  1. Remind children about some of the famous heroes you've discussed in class or read about, such as the Presidents. Explain that some of these people lived before photography was invented. We know what they looked like only because someone painted their portraits. Write the word "portrait" on the board and then show children some, especially those of early historical figures.

  2. Ask children if they've ever seen statues of people. Have them tell what they saw and where. If there are historical statues in your community, name them and ask children if they remember what they looked like.

  3. Display and identify several pictures of statues of the Presidents, such as those in the nation's capital. Elicit children's ideas on why some people have statues and memorials made of them. (Possible answers: So we would know what they looked like. They were important people. They were heroes. People wanted everyone to keep these people in their memories for many years. They wanted all Americans to remember these people.)

  4. Children may have learned the playground game "Statues." To practice it, have children form a circle, then walk slowly around the room. When you say "Freeze" the first time, children must come to a stop in whatever position they're in. When you say "Unfreeze, children can begin to move. Explain that the next time you say "Freeze," they must immediately take a position as though they were about to do something important or heroic. Unfreeze several children and ask them to describe what they were posing as.

  5. After children take their seats, display all the pictures of statues and have teams of children study them closely. Invite teams to the front of the room to imitate the poses of some of the statues while others guess who they are. (Children can also pose together to imitate a group sculpture.)

  6. When everyone has participated, encourage a discussion in which children describe how they felt when they imitated the pose of a hero. As they talk about their feelings, list their descriptive words on the board.


Have children create a clay sculpture (or a portrait) of a modern-day person they consider to be a hero. Then have them write a few sentences to tell what makes this person a hero. Encourage children to use some of the descriptive words they used to describe how they felt posing as statues of heroes.

Create an art gallery with the statues and drawings children have made of modern-day and the reproductions of paintings and sculptures of historical heroes. Establish visiting hours and discuss proper behavior in such a place. Have children stroll through the gallery. You might have some children act as guides who tell a little about each display. Use this experience as a rehearsal for a field trip to a historical building, library, or museum.

Activity Search | Reading Center | Math Center | Social Studies Center
Education Place | Site Index

You may download, print and make copies of this page for use in your classroom, provided that you include the copyright notice shown below on all such copies.

Copyright © 1998 Houghton Mifflin Company. All Rights Reserved.