Pass the Portrait – Interpreting Cultural Customs, Traditions, and Celebrations

Topic: Interpreting Cultural Customs, Traditions, and Celebrations 
CLI Strategy: Pass the Portrait 
Subject:  Social Studies 
Grade: Elementary/Middle/High 

Students will be able to: use inferencing and interpretation skills to interpret an image connected to cultural customs, traditions, and celebrations.


  • Show an image to the class.  Give students time to silently reflect on what they notice.
  • Ask students to share their observations, guiding them with questions such as:
    • What’s happening in this picture?
    • What might the individuals be thinking / feeling?  What can you infer about the individuals’ relationships?
    • What does this image communicate? What does the image say about this culture?
    • What does this image remind you of?  How is your culture similar or different?
  • Ask students to form a circle with a partner beside them.
  • Give each pair of students a different image to describe for 30 – 60 seconds.
  • At the end of each time period, ask students to pass their picture and begin describing the new picture they receive.
  • Have students continue passing pictures until everyone has viewed each image.  Put the images in the center of the circle to compare them.

Scaffolding for Success

  • Remind the class to respect each other’s interpretations of the image.
  • Ask students to think about one word that describes the main feeling of the image.  Have students share their word with the class before engaging in the class discussion.

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