Questions for Consumers


Questioning Strategies for Reviewing Works of Art in the Elementary Classroom

These questions help them develop critical thinking skills. They also help students make connections between the work and the world around them, engage more deeply in related topics, and enjoy the process of viewing works of art. 

Before Analyzing a Work of Art

Before analyzing a piece of art, it's essential to prepare students by asking a few key questions:

  • Origin: Where did this artwork come from, and what makes it special? Are there any interesting details about the artist?
  • Intent: What do you think the artist wanted to express through this artwork? How can we explore their intent in order to better understand it?
  • Comparison: Have you seen other artworks like this one? What makes this piece different or unique?

While Analyzing or After Analyzing a Work of Art

Engaging with art doesn't stop at observation. Asking the following questions expands/extends students’ engagement to thoughtful analysis and reflection:

  • Creating Meaning: What emotions or thoughts does this artwork evoke in you? How has it impacted you emotionally and intellectually?
  • Focused Thinking: What specific details or elements in the artwork stand out to you?
  • Personal Impact: How has this artwork influenced you personally? Has it inspired new ideas or insights?

Additional Frameworks for Critiquing a Work of Art

Below are a few descriptions and references that guide focused thinking and observation during an arts experience and created meaning afterward.

1. Art Criticism

  • Describe. Describe the work without using value words. Include what you see and where you see it.
  • Analyze: Describe the organization and composition of the work. Identify similarities, points of emphasis, subjects, characters, and their relationships.
  • Interpret: Describe how the work makes you think or feel.
  • Judge: Determine if the work is a success or failure and justify why.

2. Visual Thinking Strategies

"By facilitating real discussions and reflecting on their practice, guided by VTS coaches, educators learn how to create supportive learning environments that are open and accepting, encourage risk-taking, and elicit multiple perspectives. Participants increase their ability to hear, value, and assess student thought and expression." (

  • What is happening in this picture? 
  • What do you see that makes you say that?

3.  Visible Thinking Routines

"Thinking Routines," are structured patterns of questioning and reflection designed to deepen understanding and foster critical thinking in students. They were developed at Harvard Project Zero.

These routines provide a framework for educators to facilitate meaningful discussions and inquiry-based learning experiences in the arts, encouraging students to explore, analyze, and interpret works of art while developing their creative and analytical skills.

Check out one of our favorites here: "I See, I Think, I Wonder"

4. Perceive and Reflect

  • What did you see? Where did you see that?
  • What did you hear? At what point did you hear that?
  • How did the exhibit or performance make you feel?
  • What did you imagine when you heard the music or the speaking voices?
  • What did the artistic rendition make you think about?
  • What memories came to you as you experienced the work? After you experienced the work?

Be sure to check out our other blogs with Questions for Creators, and Coaching Students in the Creative Process


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