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9th, 10th, 11th, 12th




480 minutes

Regional Focus



Google Docs, Google Slides


This lesson plan is licensed under Creative Commons.

Creative Commons License

Youth Climate Hero Portraits (Climate Heroes #3)

Created By Teacher:
Last Updated:
Dec 8, 2022

In this lesson, students create portraits of youth climate heroes.
Step 1 - Inquire: Teacher reviews Youth Climate Action (Climate Heroes #2), shows examples of youth climate leader portraits, and discusses their impact.  
Step 2 - Investigate: Students research reference images and practice using proportions, composition, colors, and art media.

Step 3 - Inspire: Students create their final “Climate Hero” portrait and create a display.


  • Students will experience using real-world problems as the sources of their art-making.

  • Students will use their art to impact others through education, influence, and inspiration.

  • This lesson provides numerous choice-based approaches, from the content of the artwork, to the media used, to the composition and presentation of the work.

Additional Prerequisites

  • This is lesson 3 of 3 in our 9th-12th grade Climate Heroes unit.

  • Basic knowledge of drawing/painting art materials is required (such as pencil, colored pencil, pen, watercolor, acrylic, etc.). This lesson should only be attempted after students have some basic media familiarity.

  • Basic understanding of elements of art/principles of design, composition, and use of thumbnails should be established prior to this lesson.

  • Students should have some prior experience drawing facial features such as eyes, nose, mouth, etc.


  • The timing of the lesson can be altered according to teacher preference.

  • The Investigate section offers various supports for students about different art techniques. Teachers can eliminate or add to this depending on student ability.

  • The Investigate section includes an advanced study of portrait composition that is 52 minutes long. It is sectioned into chapters, so teachers can select which clips are most relevant for their class.

  • If students are overwhelmed with choice, teachers can assign a specific type of art media.

The content of this lesson plan focuses on artistic techniques and uses climate activists as the inspiration. The activists’ stories and the video featured are accurate. Resources and the bulk of science information come from previous lesson plans in this series. This is recommended for teaching.

This resource addresses the listed standards. To fully meet standards, search for more related resources.

  • National Core Arts Standards
    • Visual Arts: Standard 7 - Perceive and analyze artistic work.
      • VA:Re7.2.IIa Evaluate the effectiveness of an image or images to influence ideas, feelings, and behaviors of specific audiences.
    • Visual Arts: Standard 10 - Synthesize and relate knowledge and personal experiences to make art.
      • VA:Cn10.1.Ia Document the process of developing ideas from early stages to fully elaborated ideas.
      • VA:Cn10.1.IIIa Synthesize knowledge of social, cultural, historical, and personal life with art-making approaches to create meaningful works of art or design.
    • Visual Arts: Standard 11 - Relate artistic ideas and works with societal, cultural, and historical context to deepen understanding.
      • VA:Cn11.1.IIa Compare uses of art in a variety of societal, cultural, and historical contexts and make connections to uses of art in contemporary and local contexts.
    • Visual Arts: Standard 3 - Refine and complete artistic work.
      • VA:Cr3.1.IIa Engage in constructive critique with peers, then reflect on, re-engage, revise, and refine works of art and design in response to personal artistic vision.
    • Visual Arts: Standard 5 - Develop and refine artistic techniques and work for presentation.
      • VA:Pr5.1.IIa Evaluate, select, and apply methods or processes appropriate to display artwork in a specific place.
    • Visual Arts: Standard 1 - Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work.
      • VA:Cr1.1.IIIa Visualize and hypothesize to generate plans for ideas and directions for creating art and design that can affect social change.

  • Students review Youth Climate Action (Climate Heroes #2).

  • Teacher introduces the artwork of six artists whose work includes portraits of youth climate activists.

  • Students think-pair-share: 

    • What are the differences between portraits in terms of compositions, colors, and?

    • Are there some artworks that interested or inspired you more than others? Why?

    • Do you think some portraits were more effective than others? Why?

  • Teacher asks students to imagine what their portrait of a youth climate leader will look like.

  • Students research and select 2-3 photos of the youth climate activist who will be the subject of their portrait. It is suggested, although not required, that they print the images.

  • Teacher explains the importance of not copying directly from photographs but combining them to create an original image.

  • Teacher asks, “What choices can you make as an artist to strengthen your message about a youth climate leader?”

  • Understanding Proportions

    • Teacher defines proportions and students watch the video How To Draw A Head.

    • Students use skills from the video to create practice sketches of the person they have chosen for their youth climate leader portrait.

  • Establishing a Composition

    • Teacher defines composition and asks students to compare and contrast compositions in two of Maliha Abidi’s portraits.

    • Optional: Teacher shares all or part of the video Ideas for Portrait Compositions.

  • Thumbnail 

    • Teacher defines a thumbnail sketch.

    • Students create thumbnail sketches for their portrait composition.

  • Considering Color and Art Media

    • Teacher asks students to consider the impact of color on their portrait.

    • Students compare the impact of color in two portraits of Autumn Peltier.

    • Teacher asks students to consider the impact of media choice on their portrait.

    • Students compare the impact of media in two portraits of Jamie Margolin.

  • Peer Sharing & Feedback

    • Students meet with a peer or small group and exchange feedback on their practice and planning work.

    • Students use peer feedback to guide them on the final portrait.

  • Students create their final artwork. (This is not shown in the Teacher Slideshow.)

  • Teacher shares the various avenues that artists use to share their work, such as traditional galleries, online publications, sales, books, murals, and posters.

  • Students discuss and decide as a class where and how to display the artworks.

  • Students create a display of their choosing.

  • Students complete the reflection and rubrics form.


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