Free Resources and Strategies for Teaching Language with Street Art

Chalk drawing on sidewalk of cute monsters emerging from underground
Chalk art by David Zinn

The Power of Public Art

Check out this chalk drawing by David Zinn, a world-renowned street artist who happens to live in my neighborhood. Think of all the ways you and your students could talk about it in the target language! At all levels, public art can be a superb source of learning and interaction, through things like

  • describing it orally or in writing,
  • inventing a backstory,
  • discussing what constitutes art,
  • learning about each other’s artistic skills or interests, and
  • exploring the role of art in society and societal change.

And because there are street artists and performers everywhere, public art/performance is also a perfect entrée into other locations and cultural topics you want to talk about.

I’ve made three short videos sharing more public art and lots of ideas for using it to build linguistic skill, critical thinking, and cultural competence. The materials are FREE! Access them by clicking the image below or this link.

Banner with a picture of Justin Slocum Bailey and text "Street Art & Pareidolia — Low-Prep Strategy of the Week #30"

33 Low-Prep Strategies for less than $2 each!

Street Art and Pareidolia is part of a series of low-prep strategies that I share weekly, with videos and resources that usually cost $4-$15 per strategy because of all the work that goes into them. Bundled together, though, you can get ALL the strategies for $65—that’s less than $2.00 per strategy.

I can’t count the number of times I have thought, “I would gladly give $2 to have a go-to low-prep strategy this week.” I wish I had had access to a series like this, so I decided to make it for other people.

Preview and get your hands on the Low-Prep Strategies bundle here!

collage of banners from the TeachHuman "Low-Prep Strategy of the Week" series
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  1. Hello Justin!

    I think that this idea is AWESOME! It really pushes students to use their language in the real world and outside of the academic setting. That is what I am always trying to do with my Spanish students – when interacting with real world situations (authentic or not), they freeze. By giving them a resource like street art to use as the spark for oral conversation, they are forced to produce some sort of language because they are engaged through a medium of art. I also love how you brought up that students can use this street art and create backstories for the characters or pictures that they see. It pushes them to not only talk about themselves, but it allows them to use the third person to create a whole new narrative for this inanimate drawing.

  2. This idea is great! David Zinn’s art is some of my favorite, and I love seeing it when I am out and about downtown! His work is always very fun, and I would love to be able to incorporate it into my future Latin classroom. Art is an important part of all cultures, whether modern or ancient, and I think using street art is a great way to draw connections and make comparisons between ancient and modern street art. The questions you suggest are also very helpful. I am not sure how much of the discussion could be had in Latin with my lower-level classes, but I would still love to have them create captions or stories in Latin based on some of the art. (And also have them create their own art and stories around their artwork) This is a great way to engage kids’ creativity and get them thinking in different ways!

    • Salve Molly, I love your idea of comparing modern and ancient street art! And, yes, as you say, there are lots of tasks other than free-form discussion that you and your students could use to respond to the art and make their own. Thanks for stopping by here!

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