Van Gogh's Starry Night Lesson Plan

Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

Use this lesson plan to teach your students about the artist Vincent van Gogh. Students view and analyze the painting 'The Starry Night,' then apply his techniques in their own work.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • explain symbolism aspects of The Starry Night
  • analyze The Starry Night
  • create painting using similar techniques as van Gogh


  • 45 minutes


  • Copy of The Starry Night
  • Paint
  • Paint brushes
  • Paper
  • Audio of the song Vincent by Don McLean or video version, if available

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.2

Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.4

Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.


  • Start the lesson by displaying the painting The Starry Night and asking students to take a few minutes to look closely. Then, ask students to share their observations. Write on the board.
  • Tell students they will be learning about a painter named Vincent van Gogh, who used his paintings to express his thoughts and feelings. Explain that he also used special painting techniques that you will teach them later.
  • Begin our video lesson Van Gogh's Starry Night: Description, Analysis & Facts.
  • Pause at 1:00 and ask:
    • How does the painting use light and dark to tell a story in the painting?
    • What does the dark in the painting mean to you?
    • What does the light in the painting mean to you?
  • Explain the term 'analysis' to students, then restart the video.
  • Discuss:
    • Why do we know little about The Starry Night compared to van Gogh's other work?
    • How does van Gogh express himself in this painting?
    • What did van Gogh think about stars? How did he use this in his work?
  • Review the facts about van Gogh and answer any remaining questions. Share images of other work if possible.

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