Tuesday, August 3, 2010

History Through One Painting

Discussing the Divine Comedy with Dante

Discussing the Divine Comedy with Dante

Don't you agree that this is a most wonderful painting? It is oil on canvas, by Chinese artists Dai Dudu, Li Tiezi, and Zhang An, 2006. It's well worth checking it out online, and remember to scroll to the right to see it all.

I think this makes a wonderful Who Am I? game, as we try to identify each famous person. Who is this person? What makes you think so? What do you know about them? What would you like to know about this person?

It would also make an interesting focus for some history research. Students could try to identify people, then go on to delve further into their background. In what period of history did this person live? Why were they important? What were the consequences of this person's actions or life? How is this person remembered by others? Sites like KidInfo list some excellent online resources for further study, or check out what your local library has to offer.

Children could think about which one of the people they would like to invite to dinner and why. Maybe they could write an invitation to the person and explain their choice. What sort of food would your famous person like? How about inviting several of them. Can you create a menu and design some table decorations to suit?

Talk about the painting generally with your kids. Do they like the style? What is the background? Why are there so few famous women? Can you spot and identify all the objects in the painting? Are any of them significant? 

Not sure of the identity of a figure? Luckily, there's a cheat's page. If you scroll over a person, it will take you to their name. You can see the whole list under the painting. The list, combined with the painting, is such an interesting way to delve into human history.

Was the camel in the painting famous too? If you need a laugh, check out Celebrities that found success despite looking like a camel. I just checked the mirror - fortunately, I am not a celebrity.


  1. Kelly Be A Fun Mum04 August, 2010

    Oh yes, it truly is a wonderful painting... and I love the applications you've brought in here.

  2. Green Mama04 August, 2010

    Great post, as always. I always loved using visual prompts, but this one is pretty impressive!

  3. Book Chook04 August, 2010

    Great, Kelly B! I hope you and your kids can take some of those questions and run with them.

  4. Book Chook04 August, 2010

    I'm a visual prompt person too, Green Mama. It IS an amazing piece of work isn't it!


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