African Art Lesson Plan

Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

What is African art? A text lesson delivers essential information about African art, while an in-class activity gives students the chance to create an African tribal mask. Related lessons and extra activities help to further instruction.

Learning Objectives:

Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • identify African Art
  • outline the history and significance of African art
  • create an African tribal mask


1 to 1.5 hours


  • Photocopies of various pieces of African art
  • Paper plates
  • String
  • Hole punch
  • Scissors
  • Paint
  • Paint brushes

Curriculum Standards


Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.


Integrate quantitative or technical analysis (e.g., charts, research data) with qualitative analysis in print or digital text.


  • Display the photocopies of the examples of African art for the class.
  • Ask students to examine each example, responding on paper to the following questions:
    • What is the piece of art depicting?
    • Is there a meaning or message behind the piece?
    • Where could this have been created?
    • What materials might have been used to create it?
    • How old is the piece?
  • When the students have finished responding to the questions on paper, have them form small groups to compare answers. Is there consensus among the group regarding the pieces? Discuss as a class.
  • Now, ask students to begin reading the text lesson African Tribal Art: History & Examples, stopping at the end of the What African Tribal Art Tells Us section.
  • How many of the students recognized these examples as African art? Was anyone on target in gauging the age and/or the potential meaning of the pieces? Discuss this in light of the information provided in the text lesson.
  • Now, have students read the rest of the text lesson.

Discussion Questions

  • Was one type of African art more common than the others?
  • How might the art vary according to region in Africa?

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