Artify your Summer Course Activities for Museum/Gallery visits

(This article was first published in the May – June 2017 issue of the ELTA Serbia newsletter ELTA-Newsletter-May-June-2017)

In summer courses, and not only, museum and gallery visits are part of the outdoor activities planned for the students. This article presents activities that teachers can prepare before, during and after museum and gallery visits with their students (these visits could be part of a summer course but not necessarily). The idea is that you motivate your students to learn more about the art resources in museums and galleries while  teaching them English at the same time, as well as activating their imagination. Hopefully, the activities described here will succeed in encouraging your students to experience these places as ‘living organisms’, full of possibilities for fun and not just as ‘sacred places’ that are unapproachable.




This picture is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

The success of your visit depends on how it is integrated into the learner’s classroom work.

  • Be prepared! Learn about what you will see beforehand through pictures, research and discussion.
  • Get the museum trip off to a good start with a simple quiz show. You can also find some ready-made quizzes that you can use (the British Museum quizzz, n/d; Galleries – British Museum and Tate Modern , n/d; History quiz/Tour the National Gallery , n/d).
  • Remember to try to have a kind of competition in class to make it more challenging.
  • Be selective about what to look at on the visit – spending more time looking at a small selection of objects is more rewarding than trying to take in a large selection of objects in less detail.
  • Use materials designed to support ESOL learners participating on tours and workshops led by the Museum or make your own.
  • Make sure you already know the museum and its permanent collection before you plan any activities. If not, plan a visit to it yourself some time before you take your students there to familiarize yourself with it.
  • Make the activities fun and interactive.


Materials you can create

True/False Worksheets

Photos with museum objects

Museum maps

Find Someone/Something Who/Which….

Museum postcards


So, let us have a closer look at some specific activities we are suggesting you could use in your class.


Activity 1


Scavenger hunts 

Target level/audience : all

Materials : a list of items/objects the students have to search for


Yayoi Kusama  By Garry Knight –, CC BY 2.0,   


In a scavenger hunt, participants look for a series of items on a list, usually provided by the teacher.


Before the visit  :

  • Divide the class into two teams.
  • Give each team the list of things they must “hunt” for during their Museum visit. Tell the students to go and find the things on the list.

During the visit :

  • Every time they see something, they have to put a tick next to the word and note where they have found it. They might also have to keep some more notes next to it. Or you can ask them specific questions to answer which require certain details, e.g. something missing from a sculpture, the title of a painting, the name of an artist, etc.


Below you can find some sample lists of things that students could look for. Adapt the list according to the place/venue they are going to.

  • a specific artist :give them a specific name and ask them to write some bio details, write down 2-3 of his/her artworks that they liked in their visit
  • a specific era artwork : a pop art painting, an Impressionist painting, an Egyptian art artwork, etc. and , of course, they have to write down the title and the artist’s name
  • a specific painting, photograph, sculpture, etc. : Ask them to find a Warhol painting, or a self-portrait, a seascape, an urban scene, a landscape, etc.
  • Unknown words:  ask them to find and write down at least five words for things in English that they found in the museum/gallery they didn’t know before – they then have to record the new words and find their explanation.
  • People: find in a painting/photograph a young couple, a mother and child, etc. and then write a short description of each person (tall, short, clothes…)


You can also try to find  ready-made treasure hunt lists online which you can use  or it can be set as an example for you to create your own (Home to Home, n/d).


Also, if they cannot find the artworks they have to look for, some suggestions are :

  • advise them to ask for directions at the information desk  or generally ask the museum staff (that way they will engage in a conversation possibly with native speakers and practice their speaking skills)  ,
  • use a floor plan which all museums/galleries distribute for free at the entrance.

After the visit :  have students report back what they have found. Note also that Ss can bring their cameras to the scavenger hunt. They can use them to take photos and provide proof of their findings.


Activity 2


Draw your favourite artwork


Target audience/learners  : 11-18+

Materials : PCs, internet connection, smart phones, A4 white papers with or without the simple template shown below


Before the outing:  Ss can research any information they can about the museum/gallery they are going to visit on the internet. For example, let us consider Tate Modern as their next destination. Ask them to google search some practical information about the gallery (location, year it was established, etc.). Show them the gallery’s website and ask them to browse through the collection. Then, divide them in two teams and show them the quiz in the ppt. (Papageorgiou, 2017) .The team that gives the most correct answers , receives a small prize!

During the visit:  tell them you would like them  to imagine that they can take one piece of art home with them. They have to draw the piece they will choose and explain why they chose this piece of art (they can also take a photo of their chosen object and draw it later at home).

After the visit : class feedback- put Ss drawings on the walls around the class,  Ss go around read the descriptions and vote for the most interesting description.


Activity 3

Modern Art Gallery

Target level : 12+

Materials : cards to be completed (on one side the photo of the artwork is printed and on the other side there are some sections to be completed)


Before their visit : give your Ss the titles of specific artworks and ask them to find them in the Gallery and complete the cards that accompany the photos. Pre-teach them some expressions that they might need to use, e.g. “This makes me feel…”, “This piece is beautiful / ugly/ unusual/ extraordinary / different ”, “What the artist is trying to say is….”, etc.

During the visit : the Ss have to locate the specific artworks. The details on the cards have to be completed with the thoughts that the specific artworks create to them.  How can the Ss write their opinion on the artworks?

After the visit : the Ss have to present their cards to the rest of the group and  talk about their experience, if it was positive or negative and why.


Some examples :




My feelings:



Activity 4


Picture Story


Target level : 12+

Materials : an object/mascot of their choice, a camera


Before the visit :

  • Divide Ss into small groups.
  • Each student will need to choose an object or a mascot.

During the visit : Ss are going to take pictures with the object/mascot in different rooms/floors during their museum/gallery visit. Give them examples of pictures they need to take.

After the visit : When Ss are back in class, ask them to create a picture story using the photographs they have taken and explain more about the different sections of the museum they visited and the exhibits. Explain to them this is not going to be a simple ‘diary’ but they actually have to create a short story about their visit with them being the protagonists. You can upload their photo stories on an app like pinterest or padlet.


Activity 5


Video Diary


Target level : 12+

Materials : a camera or tablet, a PC, a projector, internet connection


Before the visit : Students are told that they will be conducting video diaries. Discuss with them what specific section/room they would be interested in presenting. They are going to be placed in pairs/groups, they can record a commentary of what they are doing/seeing.  Help them to research this area more and learn more about the exhibits. For this reason, they can visit the museum/gallery’s website and online collection. Give them some time for their preparation   

During the visit: Pupils record commentaries on their phones.

After the visit: Using a computer and a projector, different groups take it in turns to show their video footage.  



All in all, there are a lot of resources out there already so, if you are interested in preparing visits to art places and create activities to complement these, you can definitely find plenty. While some of them are ready-made and can fit the needs of an ESL class, most of them are not. There is no reason you cannot use the latter ones either though because what you need to do is set your objectives, try to find related material and adapt it to your particular needs each time. All museum and galleries worldwide have their own website and most of them have already started, for some years now, to share educational resources. The only thing you have to do is browse through and find what you are looking for. Here are some useful links for you to use :





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