Teaching…Symbolism in Visual Images

The Situation

You want to instruct students on how images represent/symbolism other ideas.

The Solution

In this part of your lesson, you are establishing the idea that images symbolise other ideas. This is not the entire lesson – just a way to establish the mindset for symbolism.

  1. Present students with the following image:

2. Ask students, if they can name the films that link up with the image. More than likely, they will know straight away though give them time to think and let the hands go up in anticipation.

3. Go through each example and label the images with the films.

4. Now, you can feign ignorance. “Wait…how do you know this image is from the film Cars? The word ‘Cars’ is not written on the page. What is it about this image that tells you it’s from that film?”

5. Students will suggest that the eyes are from the main character, or the leaf is from the film A Bug’s Life. They will suggest that the images are related to the film.

6. Here is your chance to instruct the notion of symbolism. Reinforce the idea that images are a representation of ideas and concepts. Images, like the ones above, are words in themselves. They symbolise an idea.

Where to next?

Now that you have present the concept, students are ready to explore denotations and connotations.

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