Take your kids to Mexico City with this Frida Khalo art history lesson.
With hands-on activities, including an easy, beginner-friendly art project and craft idea, plus suggested reading and a splash of science, this is a holistic lesson plan that anyone can do!
Colorful, quirky, and wildly inspiring, this artist adds a splash of dreaminess to any art history curriculum.
Who was Frida Khalo?
Frida Khalo grew up in a vibrant, colorful small town on the outskirts of Mexico City.
She spent long hours roaming through the lush gardens and courtyards of her family home, Casa Azul, where she would later find solace and inspiration in her tumultuous adult years.
As she grew, Frida’s artistic spirit blossomed.
Determined to defy the societal norms that limited the aspirations of young women in her time, Frida had aspirations to become a doctor.
Sadly, at the age of eighteen, a severe bus accident left her with lifelong injuries, including a broken spinal column, collarbone, and pelvis.
Frida’s body bore the scars of her pain, and she was forced to trade her medical dreams for a paintbrush.
Her iconic self-portraits set her in a dreamlike world of surreal beauty.
The vibrant folk art of Mexico, with its bold colors and indigenous motifs, deeply influenced Frida’s work.
A fusion of Mexican traditions and her own introspective musings, Frida used her craft to explore themes of identity, femininity, and cultural heritage.
Her famous painting “The Two Fridas” reflects her dual identity as both a Mexican and a woman of European descent.
Frida’s life was marked by love, pain, and passion.
She married the celebrated Mexican artist Diego Rivera, and their tumultuous relationship was as colorful as their art. Yet their love remained an unbreakable thread in the tapestry of their lives.
Frida’s art became a voice for the marginalized, a cry for justice and equality. She was a fierce advocate for the rights of women, a feminist icon ahead of her time. Her work celebrated the strength and resilience of the female spirit.
Though her life was marked by physical pain and emotional turmoil, Frida Kahlo’s legacy endures as a symbol of strength. Her indomitable will to live, love, and express herself through her art serves as an inspiration to all who encounter her work.
Frida Kahlo’s story, in all its vibrant and poignant glory, teaches us that even in the face of adversity, the human spirit can transcend pain and create beauty.
Her art reminds us that every scar is a brushstroke on the canvas of our lives.
Frida Khalo Lesson Plan
Frida Khalo combines the unique cultural flavors of Mexico into a kaleidoscope of bright, beautiful art.
I decided to take the unit study approach to old Frida, incorporating science, history, art, geography, and a dash of drama.
Teaching a subject that I love from different angles gives me a fresh perspective and keeps things interesting for the kids.
Monkeys and playing dress-up make art history come alive!
We try to build lessons like this around at least one key book. In this case, (affiliate link —->) Portrait of an Artist: Frida Khalo by Lucy Brownridge presents Frida’s story beautifully.
(I found the whole Portrait of an Artist series an especially lovely addition to our bookshelf).
Key Terms & Definitions
Frida Kahlo: The name of the famous artist we are learning about today, known for her unique and emotional self-portraits.
Iconic: Something that is very famous and easily recognized, like Frida Kahlo’s self-portraits.
Inspiration: Something that makes an artist want to create art, like Frida Kahlo’s love of Mexican culture and her own life experiences.
Mexican Folk Art: Traditional art and crafts from Mexico, often brightly colored and full of patterns and symbols.
Self-Portrait: A painting, drawing, or other artwork in which an artist creates a picture of themselves.
Surrealism: An art style that shows strange and dreamlike scenes, often with unexpected combinations of objects and ideas.
The Art Project
Naturally, we began our art history lesson with a fine art project.
Of course, a child’s artwork, no matter how freeform, is always beautiful.
But I love coming up with project ideas that look sophisticated but are actually done by the child without much intervention or help.
This one worked out nicely that way.
I came up with this idea for the homeschool co-op and the kids loved it! Basically, I printed a photo I liked of Frida Khalo in black and white, cut it out, and mounted it on black posterboard.
Then, I set out bowls of odds and ends—beads, seashells, and, of course, fake flowers. The kids decorated Frida’s hair. Some got clever and used beads to make a necklace or earrings.
They all came out so cute!
I love coming up with creative ways to turn an art history lesson into a science lesson (and vica versa!)
For this lesson, I latched on to Frida’s love of animals and turned it into a basic biology lesson.
Frida Khalo owned a menagerie of creatures—–some wild, and some domesticated. She often depicted her favorite pets in her art.
Most famously, she owned two spider monkeys and a deer.
So, I borrowed a book from the library about spider monkeys to bring this aspect of her to life.
You can take the opportunity to talk about the natural habitats in Central America.
Or, make it a lesson about conservation and why we know now that it’s not a great idea to keep wild animals in captivity.
If your kids love playing dress-up, make a simple Frida Khalo costume!
Create an easy DIY headpiece with a headband, some bright flowers from the dollar store, and some hot glue.
Want to take it up a notch? Get a festive dress and some turquoise jewelry from the thrift store.
Other Ideas to Consider
Get cooking. Did you know Frida Khalo’s recipes are published in an (affiliate link —>) cookbook? Try her kid-friendly white rice and plantains.
Watch the movie Frida. DEFINITELY ONLY for older kids and teenagers, as there are a lot of adult themes. But it’s a great flick and Salma Hayek portrays Frida Khalo brilliantly.