Teachers and Students

Teacher Resources

Boxwood prayer beads, rosaries and miniature altarpieces made in Northern Europe during the early 1500s demonstrate the limitless potential of human artistic practice. These tiny masterpieces, small enough to fit in the palm of the hand, depict complex scenes with elegance and precision. Without fail, they inspire students to ask how a person could have possibly made them, a question that can only be answered today.

We invite you to engage students in conversation, exploration and discovery of the gothic boxwood miniatures using the following lesson plans that provide learning strategies for your classroom. With cross-curricular connections to the grades 4–6 curricula, including math, and grades 11 and 12 Visual Arts curriculum, these lessons explore ways to immerse students in objects from the Thomson Collection at the AGO. Through these surprising objects, students will be encouraged to think critically about this collection, to reflect on issues of the past and present, and make connections to our world today.

Lesson Plans

Grades 4-6

This first series of learning activities focuses on learning from actual objects, by speculating and researching about their place in history and significance in people’s lives. These activities will help students to understand and question the reasons for collecting objects, displaying them in public collections, and the associated efforts of…

Grades 4-6

This second series of learning activities focuses on understanding the physical and storytelling qualities of these sixteenth-century boxwood sculptures: how they were imagined, designed, and manufactured.

Grades 11-12

Just as the anonymous artists of these sixteenth-century devotional boxwood carvings created powerful, universal narratives with compelling imagery that was personal in scale, contemporary artists are adept at manipulating diverse materials and means of representation to produce tiny objects that spark imaginations and demand quiet, deeper…

The online catalogue raisonné and digital photography made possible through the generous support of Thomson Works of Art