Another path you might follow with your students is to look at the early
Dutch vanitas paintings. My students like to look for and interpret all the
symbols. Very accessible to middle school kids. And then look at New England
colonial gravestone carvings whose imagery is directly influenced by vanitas
art. Many of my classes "do" a graveyard unit either in the fall or spring
when the weather accommodates graveyard visits. We integrate many
disciplines into the unit.
Brattleboro Area Middle School