Five Hundred Years of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel Masterpiece

November 1: Five hundred years ago on this date, the public saw Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling frescoes for the first time.  That anniversary definitely merits celebration.  Here are some ways to mark the occasion with your class:

Take a 360° virtual tour of the Sistine Chapel.  It’s beautiful and very well done.  You might want to mute your computer so students can focus on the art, not the choral music.  You can use computer lab time to let each student tour the chapel individually, but I bet the kids will fool around with virtual spinning and making themselves dizzy.  If you are lucky and have a projector for your computer, you can dim the lights and provide a tour for the whole class.

Free coloring pages:Imitating Michelangelo’s artwork is beyond the ability of elementary school students, but coloring pages put the artistic experience within reach.  For added fun, have the students tape the page under their desk or hold up a clipboard and try to color at an awkward angle. (Note: Michelangelo didn’t paint lying on his back.  See his poem below.)

Sistine Chapel Coloring Book (Available through High-quality pictures for your students to color.  Be judicious about what you give students to color and provide an alternate assignment for students with parents who like to complain.

Literacy tie-in—poetry by Michelangelo:  Michelangelo was an accomplished poet; hundreds of his poems survive.  Share with your students his poem about working on the Sistine Chapel ceiling.  It was not a pleasant experience!  Next to his poem, Michelangelo drew a  picture of himself painting.  You can view the picture here.

The original is in Italian; this is just one of many translations.  I took poetic license and “translated” it again to make it suitable for the classroom.  (Michelangelo’s poem was somewhat crass and I have inserted a few euphemisms for body parts.)  Read the original translation unedited by me here.  The classroom-friendly version in pdf format is available here.

Painting the Sistine Chapel Ceiling
A Poetic Account by Michelangelo Buonarroti

 I’ve already grown a goiter from this torture,
hunched up here like a cat in Lombardy
(or anywhere else where the stagnant water’s poison).
My stomach’s squashed under my chin, my beard’s
pointing at heaven, my brain’s crushed in a casket,
my chest twists like a harpy’s. My brush,
above me all the time, dribbles paint
so my face makes a fine floor for droppings!

My haunches are grinding into my guts,
my poor bottom strains to work as a counterweight,
every gesture I make is blind and aimless.
My skin hangs loose below me, my spine’s
all knotted from folding over itself.
I’m bent taut as a Syrian bow.

Because I’m stuck like this, my thoughts
are crazy, perfidious tripe:
anyone shoots badly through a crooked blowpipe.

My painting is dead.
Defend it for me, Giovanni, protect my honor.
I am not in the right place—I am not a painter.

Read/Watch Mike Venezia’s book about Michelangelo from the series Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists: The book and DVD are both available at; the book is widely available at public libraries.  The entertaining format of the book and DVD takes a cartoon approach that stays educational, not cartoonish.  Students will enjoy seeing Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling frescoes placed in context of his other tremendous achievements.

Use the Discovery Channel’s excellent Sistine Chapel lessons for grades 9-12.   The lesson is arranged for three class periods and helps you divide the chapel ceiling into panels that students can research.  The lesson plan gives resources that can help you teach.

The Agony and the Ecstasy: Of course, no discussion of Michelangelo resources would be complete without mentioning Irving Stone’s biographical novel The Agony and the Ecstasy.  It is way too complicated for your students, but you might enjoy it.  I certainly did.  The book covers Michelangelo’s entire life; the movie starring Charleton Heston and Rex Harrison focuses on the Sistine Chapel ceiling project.

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Posted in Academics,Social Studies by Corey Green @ Oct 30, 2012


Mix It Up At Lunch Day: October 30

Encourage your students to make new friends and celebrate diversity with a simple lunchtime program.  October 30 marks the Tenth Anniversary of Mix It Up At Lunch Day.  The initiative was developed by the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance program.  Join the 2,500 schools planning to mark the day!

In Teaching Tolerance surveys, students identified the cafeteria as the place where divisions are most clearly drawn.  Mix It Up At Lunch Day encourages students to break out of their usual groups and get to know other kids.  That’s all there is to it!

The simple act of breaking bread with other students can have profound implications.  Many differences can seem not-so-different if people only have contact with a group they consider “other.”  Suddenly, the individuals inside the group become just what they are—individuals.  Experience is a powerful educator.

SPLC offers many resources for schools looking to make a big deal out of Mix It Up At Lunch Day.  Click here for tips on how to seat students.  A few simple ideas:

  • Publicize Mix It Up At Lunch Day with free tools ranging from clip art for posters to press releases.
  • Set up a faculty committee (don’t worry, this is easy!) that can follow the Six Key Steps for a successful event.
  • Rearrange the tables in the cafeteria—students’ visual reminder that today is different.
  • Use tickets, buttons, paper slips—anything—to randomly mix students.
  • At tables, have discussion prompts written on boards or sheets to help students make conversation.
  • Teaching Tolerance has suggested Mix It Up At Lunch activities for all grades K-12.  You can use the activities outside Mix It Up At Lunch Day, as well.

Happy Mix It Up At Lunch Day!

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Posted in Classroom Management,Social Studies,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Oct 25, 2012


Book Review: Desert Baths by Darcy Pattison

AR Quiz number 153577/Reading Level 3.3/Point Value 0.5

As National Board Certified Teacher, I know that Desert Baths by Darcy Pattison is highly educational and entertaining.  Students and teachers will enjoy extended study with the activities, printable worksheets, and discussion guides in the comprehensive (52 pages!) teacher’s guide.

Darcy Pattison writes beautifully, but the clever use of figurative language and literary devices does not distract.  Students will enjoy the vivid imagery and description heightened by Kathleen Rietz’s illustrations.  Teachers will be glad to point out the many examples of onomatopoeia, vivid verbs, descriptive adjectives and varied sentence structure.

The information is interesting; it’s not often we think about whether desert creatures take baths, let alone how they do so.  Students will enjoy seeing the different techniques for cleanliness in a dry place.  Kids love animals, so this book is a natural fit.

The book features several activities printed at the end, but there is much, much more in the extensive Teacher’s Guide.  Click here to view or download the 52 page manual.  Many of the resources are a snap to use—ready to print vocabulary lists, Mad-Libs style activities, worksheets, quizzes and more.  Other ideas are more involved, like a STEM activity to build a bird bath or a printable card game to sort desert animals.

Click here for school visit info—everything you need to organize a visit from author Darcy Pattison.

Full disclosure: I didn’t just happen upon this book.  I have followed Darcy’s career since attending her one of her Novel Revision Retreats a few years ago.  If you write, either casually or for publication, check out Darcy’s resources.  Her website is a treasure trove of ideas you won’t find elsewhere, and her books Novel Metamorphosis and Paper Lightning are must-have resources.

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Posted in Academics,Book Reviews by Corey Green @ Oct 19, 2012


Celebrate the World Series—Online Resources to Incorporate Baseball in the Classroom

The World Series starts on October 24, 2012. Get into the spirit of the World Series by teaching baseball in the classroom. These Internet resources will help you incorporate baseball into any subject.

The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum has put together a wonderful collection of resources for baseball curriculum. You will find PDF’s of high-quality lesson plans and materials. Many are intended to enhance a visit to the Baseball Hall of Fame, but they are useful even if your field trip budget won’t allow for such an extravagance.

The topics are varied and interesting. Here are just a few examples:

Economics: The Business of Baseball

Physical Science: Science on the Sandlot

Innovation: Tools of the Trade

Women’s History: Dirt on Their Skirts

Labor History: Hardballs and Handshakes

Popular Culture: Take Me Out to the Ballgame!

Cultural Diversity: Diversity in the Dugout

A good example is the elementary lesson Geometry: Circling the Bases. When you click on the lesson one PDF, at first it looks like the type of lesson plans he had to write for College: way too much detail, many more supplies than you actually used to teach a simple concept, and the long list of standards. However, if you go to pages 7 and 8, you will find cool worksheets with photographs of actual baseball players batting stances for students to measure the angles. When viewing the PDF, go to a 20% or so view you can quickly look through the pages and find what you want to print.

TeachersFirst’s Baseball Resources: this site is a directory to high-quality sites that will help you incorporate baseball into your lessons. You will find everything from baseball math to baseball history. The sites and topics are organized by grade level so you can quickly find what will help your students.

Spend computer lab time on these fun baseball math games.

Funbrain math baseball: Answer the question correctly and the type of hit you get will be based on level of difficulty of the problem.

Batter’s Up Baseball: same idea; different game

AOL games Grand Slam Derby: for the last few minutes of computer lab after the kids put in their time on baseball math facts practice. Students can play baseball or softball.

Teach simple baseball math in the classroom with this simple and helpful website that clearly explains how to articulate baseball statistics. In addition to the usual baseball card statistics found in many baseball math lessons, their other card collations your students can make, such as how to figure games back for standings. Students will appreciate this because they can apply it to other sports besides baseball.

Corey Green Connection: My third Buckley School Book, Double Switched, has a strong baseball theme. Connor knows he is destined to be a major leaguer—if he can make it through sixth grade. The book is available in print and as a Kindle book. At, students can study Connor’s pitching tips, learn baseball superstitions, and try their hand at the You are the Umpire quiz.

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Posted in Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Oct 12, 2012