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Traveling Abroad

For Grades 6–12, with adaptations for Grades 3–5

Table of Contents

Featured Work
Talking About the Painting
Parts I, II, and III: Getting There, Being There, and Meeting Each Other
Adaptation Suggestions for Grades 3–5
Additional Suggested Activities
New York State Learning Standards and Core Curriculum

Featured Work

Eugène Delacroix
(French, 1798–1863)
Street in Meknes, 1832
Oil on canvas
18 1/4 x 25 1/4 inches (46.4 x 64.1 cm)
Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery
Elisabeth H. Gates and Charles W. Goodyear Funds, 1948
Background Information for Educators


  • Students will learn about and understand the differences between life now and life in the 1830s in France, North Africa, and the United States
  • Students will use what they have learned in the above objective to write from different perspectives about life in the 1830s in France, North Africa, and the United States
  • Students will work independently or in groups to research and create visual art or theatrical performances that demonstrate what they have learned about life in the 1830s in France, North Africa, and the United States (see Additional Suggested Activities #1 and #4)
  • Students will research and report back through writing or works of art about contemporary events in other countries (see Additional Suggested Activity #2)
  • Students will imagine an unknown place/time and create a work of art using a reporter’s perspective (see Additional Suggested Activity #3)


  • Map of the world (preferably topographic)
  • Image for class display
  • Paper and pencils (for writing and sketching)
  • Scissors and glue
  • Watercolors and brushes (optional)


Display the painting for the class. Ask them to describe what they see. Share any of the background information on the last page that you feel would be helpful in doing Parts II, III, and IV.


It’s 1832, and your students are part of a large group of French men and women traveling from Paris to the city of Meknes, Morocco, in North Africa. Show them a map of the world.

  • Without planes, trains, or automobiles, what are possible transportation options for the journey?
  • Without telephones or travel agents, how will they make arrangements, both for getting there and for accommodations once they arrive?
  • What types of things will they take with them? Have them guess, based on their current knowledge of North Africa.

These questions can be answered through discussion or in writing.


Once the group arrives in Meknes, they will experience extreme differences in climate, language, religion, architecture, food, costume, and customs.

  • Have the students research Arab and North African culture to discover how it differed from that of nineteenth-century France.
  • Ask students to pretend that they are French ambassadors writing to the King of France about Morocco — how would they describe it based on their research?
  • Did they pack properly? What did they forget? What did they bring that they don’t need?


With the permission of the Sultan of Morocco, Delacroix roamed the streets of Meknes, sketching and making notes on what he saw. He was not only one of the first Europeans to be allowed into the city, he was also the first European that some of the inhabitants had ever seen.

Activity 1

1. Divide the class into groups of five (a group can have more than five if necessary, but not fewer than five). Each of these groups will do the same activity.

2. In each group, one person will take on the role of each individual in the painting. The fifth person (and any extras in the group) will take the role of the artist.

3. The students playing the inhabitants of Meknes need to look carefully again at the painting. Once they have studied their counterparts, ask them to recreate the painting against a classroom wall, paying special attention to spacing, gesture, body language, and facial expressions.

4. The other member(s) of the group should record through sketches and notes their impressions of the four "Moroccans." NO TALKING should be allowed during this portion of the activity, which should last at least five minutes.

Activity 2

1. Re-divide the groups based on the parts that they played: all those who posed as the young girl together, etc.

2. Have each group that played an inhabitant of Meknes come up with a description of their character, answering the following questions:

  • How old is he or she?
  • What is his or her occupation?
  • What five words could be used to describe his or her personality and attitude? What are the reasons for their word choices?
  • How did he or she feel about being observed and sketched?

Have the students who played the artist do the following things:

  • Show each other their sketches
  • Discuss how they felt watching and sketching people
  • Discuss how it might have been different for Delacroix, who was in a completely foreign country surrounded by strangers; as a group, have them write their ideas in the form of an imaginary journal entry by Delacroix

Activity 3

1. Put the students back into their original groups.

2. Make copies of all the sketches so that each group gets one of each.

3. Have each group cut, paste, and color (with markers or watercolors) the artists’ sketches to create a group portrait on a large, single sheet of paper, with your classroom as the setting.

4. Display the artworks.


Part II can be omitted for younger grades if desired.


You can tell your students about Arab and North African culture, along with a little about life in the United States at that time. Then, have them write a letter to United States President Andrew Jackson describing how Morocco was different from America.

For Part III, consult with an art teacher about the best strategy for doing the drawings. Younger students will need guidance if you wish them to draw from observation.


Divide students into four groups and assign each group to one of the figures in the painting. Have them answer the questions listed in the first part of Activity 2, step 2.


Create a tableau of the painting. Ask students to carefully imitate body position and facial expression. What is each character thinking?

Additional Suggested Activities

  1. It is easier to travel today than it was in the nineteenth century. Pretend to visit Meknes. Use a map to locate Morocco, Meknes, and Buffalo. Devise a plan to get there (don’t forget passports, shots, etc.). Then, do the same thing as if you lived in 1832, when Eugène Delacroix went to Meknes.
  2. Using a newspaper or magazine, find an article about a current event that involves a foreign country. Cut out the article and paste it onto a large sheet of white paper. Pretend you are an artist sent to document the event. Have them draw boxes around the article and fill them with illustrations of the scene.
  3. Delacroix was the first known Westerner to visit Meknes, and his paintings showed other people in Europe what it and its inhabitants looked like. Make up a new country (or planet), name it, and create a work of art that will describe it. Before the artist explains his or her new place, try to guess where it is, what it’s called, and what it’s like.
  4. Act out the painting and write a dialogue for the characters. Your performance can include costumes, props, and even backdrops.


  • New York State Learning Standards for the Arts (Visual Arts, including the museum visit) 1, 2, 3, 4
  • New York State Learning Standards for Social Studies 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
  • College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Language 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
  • College and Career Readiness Core Anchor Standards for Reading 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 (see Additional Suggested Activities), 10 (see Additional Suggested Activities), 11 (New York only)
  • College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Speaking and Listening 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
  • College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Writing 3, 4, 10 and 11 (New York only) (plus 5 and 6 if drafts and presentations are developed from the writing)


  • Audio for Younger Students

  • Audio for High School Students