Glossary of art terms

As a student I was told to buy a dictionary of art terms and flip through it from time to time, look up points I did not know and generally have it as a resource. That was a good idea, but only some of the info stayed with me. For secondary level students (VCE Studio Arts) and Uni level students, this may serve as a very useful resource to develop a range of skills in analysing art.

I was shown another way years later which I like more, as it involves students at least cutting and pasting info they need and therefore see of value, over time the resource builds to suit their needs and interests.


Here’s how…

  1. Take a quick internet search for a glossary of art terms (probably just heading points at this stage) or create your own ready to use.
  2. Take the list and put it in your favourite word processor.
  3. Use the headings as starting points, get the info on the headings which interest you and paste it in.
  4. Save the info and keep adding to it, over time some of the headings will have multiple entries. Encourage web links and pictures as well. Make it into a PDF file and get the students to hand it in online…

After a few weeks the glossary will be a few pages long, then more and more can be added.

Extension activities

  1. Invite the students to share new or interesting points they have found which they have added to their glossary of terms. What a great way to get students chatting about art and using art terminology.
  2. Start Junior students with one and build on it year by year, by the time they get to be senior students they will have a solid resource and a great connection with the language and terminology of the subject.
  3. Want to avoid setting homework… or want to set some… simply give them this task and ask them to add to it week by week. In class you can remind them to add to it each week and put a note in their Student diary/organiser to remind them.


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