Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Montana's Charlie Russell Packets: Now Available at a Montana K-12 Public School Library Near You

After the MHS Press published Montana's Charlie Russell: Art in the Collection of the Montana Historical Society, we decided to build on its success to create a curriculum packet to help teachers bring Russell’s artwork to the classroom. 
Modeled after our hugely successful packet, The Art of Storytelling: Plains Indian Perspectives, the Montana's Charlie Russell curriculum packet includes fifteen prints of selected paintings, letters, and sculptures, eight classroom-tested lesson plans, and three PowerPoints. We mailed these packets to all Montana public school libraries in early October--so check your school library. We're bringing 100 packets to the MEA-MFT convention--so stop by our booth to pick up your personal copy, while supplies last. Aren't attending MEA-MFT? While supplies last, you can also request a classroom copy of the packet by emailing mhseducation@mt.gov
We've also posted all of the material in the packets on our website:


  • Montana’s Charlie Russell (elementary), a biographical PowerPoint with a script (targeted to elementary students) that provides an overview of Russell’s life and work
  • Montana’s Charlie Russell (upper grades), a biographical PowerPoint with a script (targeted to middle and high school students) that provides an overview of Russell’s life and work 
  • PowerPoint of the Russell images provided in the packet plus a bonus image, Lewis and Clark Meeting Indians at Ross’ Hole. to project for class discussion 

Lesson Plans 

Three hands-on art lessons: 
  • “Watercolors of the Big Sky” (grades 3–5) uses Russell’s art to help students explore the compositional elements of foreground, middle ground, and background before having them create landscape paintings inspired by nature, using watercolor techniques. 
  • “Illustrating a la Charlie Russell” (grades 6–12) asks students to explore how Russell used washes of watercolor and ink techniques to create shadow and depth in his illustrations. Students will then choose an animal to illustrate using these techniques. The illustrations can be paired with a poem, short story, or letter they have written. 
  • “Figures in Motion” (grades 7–12) guides students in an exploration of movement. Using Charlie Russell’s paintings and sculptures as inspiration, students will create their own three-dimensional sculptures, translating movement from line drawings to wire armatures to simulated bronze works. 
Five lesson plans that engage students in critically examining Russell’s paintings as they practice Common Core skills: 
  • “The Rest of the Story” (grades 3–7) engages students in an analysis of several pieces of Russell art before asking them to choose one to use as inspiration to write a story. 
  • “Living with Animals” (grades 4–7) examines the way humans’ relationship to the natural world has changed over time, while using Russell’s art to explore the importance of animals to Russell and the people he painted. 
  • “Russell on Indians” (grades 7–12) explores the topic of stereotypes, especially about Indians. After class discussion, students will examine several Russell paintings during a “gallery walk” to explore how the artist did and did not reinforce Indian stereotypes. 

Additional Material

I hope you'll check out the material online, check out the packet from your K-12 library, and share the material with your students. And, as always, let us know what you think!

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