Happy and Sad Superman

Happy and Sad Superman

Happy and Sad Superman

Second grade

Norah Mallaney and Jermia Huff, teachers

The Inspired Teaching School, Washington, DC


To imaginatively understand another's thoughts and emotions. 


  1. Design and wear period costumes related to an artist's life and times. Describe what that person may have been like and how they may have lived.
  2. Write letters from the point of view of a character in an artwork. 
  3. Imagine being inside of a work of art. Take on the identity of an object, line, shape, or color. Write about this experience using descriptive vocabulary. 

In the classroom

Happy Superman and Sad Superman (pictured above) stem from a language arts teaching unit that exemplifies that Prism.K12 strategy Empathize. Students empathized with fictional characters ranging from Harry Potter to Superman to learn about character traits and character development. After studying Vincent van Gogh's portrayal of character in various portraits in the Phillips's special exhibition, Van Gogh Repetitions, second-grade teachers Norah Mallaney and Jermia Huff led their students through many empathy exercises. These included acting out literary characters and working in pairs to create paintings that demonstrate two emotional aspects of the same character.