Keith Haring/Bully Prevention
Discovery Ridge Elementary School

This lesson introduces students to the life work of Keith Haring, an artist who used a very simple playful style to carry a message of love, peace, and equality. In this lesson, students learn how Keith Haring was an activist who stood for a cause. They can also explore historically how artists can be activists and spread a positive message. Students have conversations and hold class meetings about bullying in schools and in their community. They will learn what to do when they experience bullying and how to stop it. Students also have the opportunity to master art techniques such as painting in an area neatly, using lines to express feelings, and lettering a poster or sign.


Since last month marked the 25th anniversary of Haring’s passing, a website reader Theo sent in these new resources that could be used with this lesson plan. Theo says, “A quarter-century of Haring’s vibrant art continues to invigorate viewers with its raw energy.”

  • Students will learn about the artist Keith Haring and how he used his artwork to convey a positive message about values.
  • Students will understand artists as activists.
  • Students will have conversations about bullying in and out of school, how to prevent bullying, and what students can do in different roles including the victim, the bystander, the bully, etc...
  • Students will identify and use Free Form Shapes in their artwork similar to those in Keith Haring's art.
  • Students will identify and use different types of lines to show movement and feelings in their artwork, similar to those found in Keith Haring's art.
  • Examples of Keith Haring's work
  • White drawing paper (12"x18" or 18"x24")
  • Fluorescent Tempera, Black Tempera
  • Paint brushes in a variety of sizes
  • Pencils, erasers
  • Assessment (see below)
1. Introduce students to the life and artwork of Keith Haring.
Show pictures of Haring's work. Haring was born in 1958 in Pennsylvania. His father was a cartoonist and encouraged Keith to draw and be creative. After high school, Keith studied commercial art, then fine art. He moved to New York City in 1978 at age 19. There he began to draw chalk drawings on blank advertising panels in the subway stations. In 1980 he had his first exhibition showcasing his simple line drawings of figures. His figures were fun and playful, but also stood for a cause. Some of the causes Keith painted about were slavery in Africa, equality, anti-drug abuse, and AIDS awareness. Between 1982 and 1989, Keith completed more than 50 public works throughout New York City. He made friends with famous pop artists including Andy Warhol and Madonna, and then began to work internationally. He opened a store in New York called the Pop Shop where he sold merchandise with his artwork printed on it such as t-shirts, mugs, and posters. In 1988 Keith Haring was diagnosed with HIV and
passed away from complications in 1990.

2. Class #1 In class meeting:
(a) Explain how artists can be activists and stand up for a cause. Keith Haring stood up for values including equality and fairness.
(b) Students share what causes and values for which they would stand up.
(c) Add bully prevention and being kind to others to the conversation.
(d) Students talk either as a class or as partners about bullying and what we can do to prevent it.
(e) Share that current bully prevention research by Stan Davis and Dan Olweus indicate that the most effective way to stand up to bullying is to befriend the victim, not necessarily to stand up to the bully.
(f) Students set goals pertaining to bully prevention, ie: "I plan to offer a smile and a kind word to the next person I see getting picked on", or "I will tell a trusted adult the next time I see someone bullying another person."

3. Class #2
Students practice drawing Keith Haring's most popular figures, the human figure, the baby, and the dog man.
(b) Show students how to letter neatly on their projects, plan their layout, and illustrate a message.

4. Class #3 and #4
(a) After students practice, they can re-draw their images on white paper, paint them in with fluorescent colored paint, and then outline in black.
(b) Students should also use the black paint to add lines that show movement and excitement in their piece.
Student artwork will be assessed using a standard scoring rubric.
Scores are as follows:
4 = Exceeds Expectations
3 = Meets Expectations
2 = Needs Improvement
1 = Did Not Meet Expectations

Students will write the learner objectives on the rubric and self-assess their learning and performance. Students will then have a quick conversation with the teacher discussing their self-assessment. The teacher makes a final decision on the score. Students are also given a written assessment so that the teacher can further assess student learning (see below).

Name: ___________ teacher: _________

Keith Haring: What did I learn?
  • Who was Keith Haring? Tell me everything you know!
  • What did he value and stand up for?
  • How can artists help to stand up for what is right?
  • How can you help to stop bullying in our school? How about in our community?
  • What other values could you stand up for as an artist?
  • Draw your best Keith Haring Free Form Shapes here: Don't forget to add lines to show movement and excitement! When you're finished, you can color the Keith haring figures from his sketch book below.