Online Curriculum


Free Lesson Plans

The Gallery at TCA provides teachers and parents with several easy-to-use lesson plans for enhancing the art experiences of elementary and secondary school students. Each of the units was developed in conjunction with a Gallery at TCA exhibition and in collaboration with Dr. Mary Erickson, a nationally recognized art educator, and local Arizona art teacher.

These lessons are provided free of charge. In exchange, we ask for your feedback. Let us know who you are and where you teach through e-mail. Another way to show your support and learn more about future education opportunities is to join our listserv. Tell us how we are doing. Take a survey.

Lesson Plans


Juried Biennial ClaySlide 12
Sweet Memories is a set of lessons for both elementary and secondary students designed in conjunction with the Juried Biennial: Clay exhibition at the Gallery at the Tempe Center for the Arts. This hands-on clay unit focuses on the theme of food and memory. Food carries special personal, social and/or cultural meanings. The experience of eating food is also short-lived but can still hold significant meaning, especially when it relates to personal memory. View and download

STEAM thumbnail_100 x123

STEAM: Systems Within Systems 
Systems within Systems is a set of lessons for both elementary and secondary students designed in conjunction with the STEAM exhibition at the Gallery at the Tempe Center for the Arts. STEAM is a movement inspired by the popularity of STEM education (science, technology, engineering, ARTS and mathematics). It incorporates and celebrates the addition of art as a tool for creative problem solving and appreciating connections both both within us and beyond us. View and download.


MerelyPlayersPostcard FINAL_Page_1Merely Players
Merely Players is a four-lesson unit plan designed in conjunction with the Merely Players theatrical costume exhibition at the Gallery at Tempe Center for the Arts. Lessons one and two can be used with students of various ages. Lesson three is specifically designed for elementary or middle school grades. Lesson four is designed for high school. View and download




Turning Point

Green and Gray
Green & Gray is a multi-lesson unit plan designed in conjunction with the Green & Gary exhibition at the Gallery at Tempe Center for the Arts. Lesson 3 is appropriate for secondary. Lesson 4 is appropriate for elementary. View and download


WOODPECKERBirds of a Feather
Birds of a Feather is a unit plan designed in conjunction with the Birds of a Feather exhibition at the Gallery at Tempe Center for the Arts. View and download



Page to Screen
Adaptation is a three-lesson unit plan designed in conjunction with the Page to Screen exhibition at the Gallery at Tempe Center for the Arts. Lesson Three, From Words to Image, is appropriate for upper elementary or middle school. Lesson Four, From Short Story to Computer Screen is appropriate for high school students with prior experience using computer graphics applications.  View and download


Obscurity by Michelle Startzman 150Copper
Copper is a three-lesson unit plan designed in conjunction with theTCA Biennial: Copper exhibition at the Gallery at Tempe Center for the Arts. Both elementary and secondary projects are included. View and download

Summer-of-Love-109Summer of Love
Tokens of Love is a three-lesson unit plan designed in conjunction with the Summer of Love exhibition at the Tempe Center for the Arts.View and Download


I'm so angryAmerican Pop
View and download


The Waiting Game

International Guild of Realism
Point of View is a unit plan designed in conjunction with theInternational Guild of Realism: 8th Annual Juried exhibition at the Gallery at Tempe Center for the Arts. Both elementary and secondary art projects are included. View and download


Animal CrackersAnimal Crackers
Animal Crackers is a series of lesson plans designed for use with theAnimal Crackers exhibition. The unit examines the theme life that throughout human existence people have lived around and with animals and the theme in art that many artists have chosen animals as their subject matter. View and download

AnandGoing Green
Going Green is a three-lesson unit plan designed for use with Green Revolution, a collaborative project that combines the arts and sciences while teaching community members about "going green" in Arizona. Green Revolution is based on an exhibition originally created by the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry and its Black Creativity Council and is made available by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service. View and download

Paul FennellTCA Biennial: Wood
The Nature of Wood is a three-lesson unit plan that explores the materials that make up what people eat, wear and use in their daily lives. The lessons explore how artists who work with natural materials, like wood, can bring to life the rich variety and unique qualities of materials many take for granted. View and download


Family Matters 150Family Matters
This set of lesson plans allow students to explore how artworks can reveal complex and simple truths about families. Students explore how they are influenced by their families. View and download



Gordinier_DesertArroyo_ 17x20 (Small)Arizona Landscapes
The beautiful landscapes of Arizona feature natural wonders of deserts, canyons, forests, mountains, lakes and valleys and built environments like historic adobes, modern skyscrapers, highways, subdivisions, farms and golf courses. These sets of interdisciplinary lesson plans provide a framework for teaching students about the landscape and the creative spirit of those who live, work and play in Arizona. View and download

Mixing it UpMixing it Up: Building an Identity
Every culture builds its identity from shared activities, beliefs and values. Artworks can help us understand the activities, beliefs and values of our own and others’ cultures. View and download




20 questionsTwenty Questions
When viewing artwork, the public often asks, “What is it?” These lessons focus on inquiry skills for understanding art and include an art project inspired by artist Denise Yaghmourian using Perler beads.View and download


GlassTCA Biennial: Glass
People throughout time and around the world have made and used glass. This three-part lesson plan celebrates the glories and nuances of light and color in glass art. View and download


cars and guitarsCars & Guitars
People can use words and images in print and media to persuade others. Learning how images and words influence people can help individuals make better, informed choices. View and download


Chuck JonesChuck Jones: Animation (It only looks easy)
This three-lesson unit plan focuses on learning and shows how artists learn from teachers, from other artists, on their own, from family and from the world around them. View and download


NCECANCECA: Clay, Useful or Beautiful? 
The unit examines ceramic art and explores how people like and dislike things for different reasons. The unit examines the theme that ceramic art can be judged both for its usefulness and its visual interest. View and download


monica martinezOutsiders Within 
Many contemporary Native American and Latina/o artists refer to personal and cultural experiences for inspiration. This three-unit plan is about culture and the concept of multiple artworlds. View and download




DinotruxRead Me a Picture 
The world is filled with words and pictures that provide information. This three-lesson mini unit plan shows how artists such as children's book illustrators use words and pictures to tell stories and share ideas. View and download




Dale Mathis

This three-lesson unit plan is designed around art about the human face. Artists’ style choices are both personal and influenced by the world around them. View and download


Konjevod 001TCA Biennial: Paper 
Paper is part of everyday life from newspapers to homework assignments. Almost all artists use paper in one way or another for drawing, printing or folding. For many, working on paper or with paper is at the heart of the art-making process. View and download

EckertMasters of Illusion: Tricks of Perfection (Elementary) 
Some artwork is so skillfully done that it looks real or as real as a photograph. This unit focuses on artists who can “trick the eye” and drawing and observation techniques students can use to create realism in their work. View and download

EckertMasters of Illusion: Tricks of Perfection (Secondary) 
This secondary unit focuses on the tradition of "trompe l'oeil" (trick the eye) and drawing techniques such as value, light source, shade and shadow that students can use to create illusion in their work.View and download




Public Art_AuroraPublic Art 
This unit explains the “who, what, where and why” of art in public spaces. It also presents hands-on projects that can help students build their own modular sculptures and think about site-specific art in three-dimensions. 
View and download

MercyProjecting Persona: The Public Image of Roy Orbison (What is Cool) 
This three-lesson unit plan focuses on "What is Cool." Students learn that life is full of choices and artists create designs to influence people to choose (or like) one thing rather than another. View and download 



Joe Ray.La Shy OneBut It's a Dry Heat 
Students learn about climate challenges and examine living in places where climate matters. They learn how art can promote understanding of what it is like to live in different places. View and download







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