If you watched the opening ceremonies of the Olympics you saw Sarah McLaughlin singing among tall painted trees. They were a homage to West coast painter Emily Carr , a personal favorite and not as well known outside of Canada. I have been waiting to do a fine art reproduction craft since it has been a while and this was the perfect link to recent events ! No matter if your child saw the ceremonies or not trees are something they can relate to.
- Gather your materials. This project although has a set end result we focused on all different ways to paint, so we are using multiple tools. You will need some coffee filters, brown or white paper, blue paper, glue, scissors, a roller, a glass sponge, an eye dropper, some blue, green and brown paint as well as some green food coloring.
- Start by showing your child pictures of Emily Carr’s work online, in books or if you are lucky enough to have a real one near by at a museum. Talk about the trees, the colors and ask what they like and don’t like.
- Start by painting the trunks. We used a foam roller. My son pretended he was a steam roller and did this for a long long time!
- Next hand them the sky, we used blue paper but white or pale green would both work perfectly. I put green and blue paint in a dish for him to use with the glass sponge. If you follow me on twitter you may have seen my tweet saying my son announced he was Jackson Pollack as he splattered the paint- this was when he said that!
- Time for green food dye! Using an eye dropper suck up the food dye, and drop on the coffee filters. Have wet wipes on hand, my fingers are still green .
- Let everything dry.
- Cut out the trunks
- Cut the filters into tree tops. I did this step for my son because his cutting skills aren’t yet developed enough . If your child is able invite them to do it, I did ask him if he wanted spiky trees or rounded trees!
- Time to glue. Add three long lines. I added the first and then he did the rest.
- Add your trunks.
- Add glue for the tree tops
- Add the tree tops and let dry.
Pablo’s Tree by Pat Mora is a great book. The author has successfully integrated so many wonderful things into one still entertaining and engaging book. The story is about Pablo who is excited to go to his grandfather’s house to celebrate his birthday. See his Lito ( grandfather) has a wonderful tradition of decorating his tree every year to celebrate Pablo’s birthday. The book explains that this started before Pablo was even born, when his mom told her father that she would be adopting a baby. I love that this book is about a multi generation family, includes adoption without it being the only subject in the book, and it’s multi lingual text ( Spanish and English) . It’s a gem, oh and my son loved it too!
A Pocket Full of Kisses by Audrey Penn is another book in her Kissing Hand series. Chester is not so happy about having a little brother and suggests that he gives him back! I love that jealousy doesn’t stem over toys or material things but rather over Mama giving his little brother a kissing hand too. My mom has always called me sunshine and I will grudgingly admit that I do not like it when someone else earns this name, it’s an instinctual reaction and I am in my 30s! When Chester raccoon bursts into tears kids and adults a like can relate to it. Mam raccoon handles it beautifully and Chester understands that no matter how much love a mama has for one child it doesn’t take any way from others. This book was a great vehicle for discussion about our upcomming arrival and I urge other parents dealing with a new sibling or jealousy to check it out.
A Tree for Emmy by Mary Ann Rodman was a huge hit with my son who took a real liking to Emmy the “stubborn and a little bit wild ” main character of this book. She loves the Mimosa tree in her grandma’s yard and decides more than anything she wants her own for her birthday. Unfortunately they are wild and no nursery carries them. She is distraught and arguably a little bratty when disappointed but as luck would have it when she visits her grandma again she notices a shoot growing! I like how independent Emmy is , and must admit to taking great pleasure in my son noticing Emmy’s baby sister in a sling in one illustration! Very cute book!
I am passionate about art, and I believe that if our kids can tell Dora from Diego they can tell Picasso from Matisse. So even if like me you are in a small town without easy access to masterpieces you can share it with your children through books.
Celebrity Cat: With Paintings from Art Galleries Around the World by Meredith Hooper is a unique look at some of the greatest masterpieces through the eyes of cats. It’s Cat visiting night at the museum and the cats are quick to notice that there aren’t many of their kind in these wonderful paintings. So one cat takes it upon herself to add them in . I love this book because not only does it expose the young readers to some fantastic paintings like The Mona Lisa, and Van Gogh’s Chair, it also has a wonderful message. See after the cats are included even though the world of cats love these new paintings soon they discover that they don’t need to be in those paintings they need to make their own! Creative and cute story that integrates the art seamlessly!
Museum Tripby Barbara Lehman is fantastic. This wordless book has a clear strong message – that if exposed children can loose themselves in art, it opens a new world with new adventures before unseen! The story opens with a little boy on a school field trip to a museum, he looses his group , and soon finds himself in the art. After completing many mazes he is given a medal before he rejoins his group. My favorite part is as he is getting on the bus with his class he is wearing his medal and so is the museum curator. Love it!
Hugo and Miles In I’ve Painted Everything by Scott Magoon is going on my Christmas list. I have renewed this book for months from my local library. I finally have to return this book and I just don’t want to! The book is all about Hugo a painter who has painter’s block. He goes to Paris with his best friend Miles for inspiration, and among the sites, the masterpieces and thanks to the Eiffel tower he finds it! I love this book and my son just eats it up. He wants to go to Paris to the “Moosay Dor-see” to see Van Gogh and climb the Eiffel tower thanks to Hugo!
Katie Meets The Impressionistsby James Mayhew is a art fairytale! Katie goes to the museum with her grandmother and before she knows it she is in the paintings and the world of the painters and their families. Katie goes from painting to painting gathering flowers for her grandma and exploring a world on the other side of the canvas. What I enjoy about this book is that it brings the paintings to life for readers and it shares the back story in a way that children can connect to and imagine the possibilities when they go to museums! Of all these books this one held my son’s attention the least. I like to think it’s because he’s not a fan of impressionism, but I think it was simply a little long for his not quite 3 year old attention span. Maybe if Renoir had painted garbage trucks… seriously though this is a fabulous book and worth a read!
SQUEAKING OF ART, The Mice Go to the Museum by Monica Wellington is a fun book to read before and even more fun to read after a visit to a museum. This book follows a group of mice that all explore the museum, and the art on it’s walls. Each page is a different theme and the text is a dialogue between the mice and their Cat guide about the art displayed. The art itself are the author illustrator’s versions of art you will probably recognize. There are multiple paintings on each page and if you are like me and like to quiz yourself on your ability to name the painting and artist this book is for you. There is a guide at the end of the book for every page. I think I like this book even more than my son for that reason. My son likes it because he can recognize some paintings, but thy are redone in bright vibrant colors and have a more cartoon look, which I think appeals to my son even more than the originals. When we “read” this book we often skip the text and simple look and explore the art. No matter how you read it this is a fine addition to any library for those who love fine art.
I packed up my monster yesterday and we went into the city and to the Seattle Art Museum. I’ve taken him to galleries and to kids museums before but this was his first time checking out a museum with diverse and masterful works . I was giddy with the thought of him seeing a real Warhol, I was in my 20s before I got to. After our art project I have tips below on how to make field trips like this work for toddlers. Of all the awesome art we saw yesterday the one that he enjoyed and was the easiest to adapt to our needs was Sea Change by Jackson Pollock .
- Gather your materials. You will need some paper, canvas or cardboard. We used cardboard because you need to have a fairly large piece and it’s all we had. You will need paint( I thinned ours just a tiny bit with a few drops of water) , a plate and some paint brushes.
- Start by laying your canvas down with some extra paper or cardboard , this is messy.
- Pour your paint onto a plate – we just used one plate but you can do different ones for each color.
- Dip your brush in and fling it on. To get my son to use the right flinging action I told him to put a spell on the canvas, and it was perfect. We both flung the paint on.
- He took my brush and put a double spell on it too!
- Then we reached for the paint jars.
- Let Dry.
This is a true lesson, while doing this we talked about the painting we saw and how Jackson Pollock made it. I asked him if this was as big as the painting we saw and other little questions to make connections to the field trip and this activity. Most of all though we had fun putting spells on the canvas.
Tips for Visiting A Museum with Toddlers and Preschoolers
1.Take advantage of free days.
This make it less frustrating if you need to leave because they have melted down or are done before you are. Also these days are busier which for an adult can be a negative but when you have a young child a noisier ( still not noisy) museum is a plus. We were able to talk in normal voices without distracting anyone. I didn’t have to shush him more than once and because of that I was able to positively reinforce how well behaved he was being and that encouraged even better behavior .
2.Go on a full belly.
Feed them right before you go , hungry = cranky.
3.Have realistic expectations.
We lasted almost an hour.
4.Don’t linger .
Accept that you may not have time to read the info for the works, at least I didn’t. After getting home and my son was napping I went on the museum’s website and caught up on what I missed.If they really like a specific work of art go back to it, many times if need be. For me today was a chance to teach my son that art isn’t just in books and that people can experience it collectively . That sounds lofty but it’s absolutely attainable if you break it down. By returning to a painting he liked ( Target by Jasper Johns) three times I was trying to foster a desire and love of seeing art in person. I want him to like art and museums and so following his lead was helping attain that.
5.When they say loudly that they are done.
Head for the elevators. This was the only time I shushed him today but it was clear to me and the 4 others looking at the alter pieces it was time to pack it in.
6.Have fun !
- Before starting show your child the painting if they haven’t seen it, or as a reminder if they have. I find image searches on Google to be the easiest.
- Gather your materials. You will need 2 pieces of construction paper, one black or dark blue and one light brown. Some chalk , glue and scissors.
- Start by drawing a wave on your black paper. If your child can do this they should!
- Fill your wave in with white chalk. This makes the wave look foamy and like it’s crashing.
- Have your child rub the chalk with their hands to smudge it. This lasted a long time, he loved exploring how he could “fuzzy” the lines of chalk.
- Cut out.
- Add glue to the brown paper. To minimize glue all over the place and at least at our house lately a major meltdown, I put small a few small marks to guide my son’s gluing. This is just a trick to keep him happy- but thought I’d share it , in case your independent minded gluer needs a hand as well.
- Glue the wave on and you are done! I tried to get him to do some drawing on the brown paper but he wanted nothing to do with it. I think what he made was perfect for him and showed it off with much pride. Don’t hesitate to add more detail though.
“Museum ABC” by the Metropolitan Museum Of Art is a book that was first loved at our house because of the “C is for Cat” page , an early interest of my sons. I loved it because for each letter there are 4 usually very cropped pieces of paintings, showing only that part that fits the subject of each letter. In my nerdy love of identifying paintings I play a game with myself trying to figure out which are which as my son is identifying the letter, and finding the subject matter in each. The book is so beautiful, it’s hard to do it justice in a simple review. A wonderful concept and a great intro to art books for even the tiniest patrons.
“Seen Art?” by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith is one of those books that makes me squeal with delight. The story is funny, and clever and the art included is diverse and some is probably new to most readers. The story is about a little guy who is looking for his friend Art and people keep misunderstanding him and directing him to the MOMA where he is shown art as well as the debate of “But is it art?” plays on as he passes well recognized masterpieces and provocative modern art alike . I was turning the pages too fast for my son I was so excited to see what was next while he wanted to look at the art. I loved the page where he comes to a Monet , you see the little guy from behind and he is very small and despite not seeing his face you can imagine his face frozen with wonder. the book is fantastic and I love the levels of meaning and the sheer amount of art packed into this book. Well Done!
I love museums, specifically art museums. My son has been really into the Mona Lisa and Birth of Venus since I bought him the first book in the reviews at the Vancouver Art Gallery. He also keeps asking to go to the Louvre after seeing an episode of Little Einsteins, don’t I wish! So while he was napping on Sunday I made him a museum, kids could be a part of this for sure – instead of using masterpiece stickers you could make your own art! It’s been played with multiple times since making it .
- Gather your materials. You will need a shallow card board box, some foam or construction paper in 2 colors, some markers, glue, scissors, art stickers, little people blocks and little people.
- Start by cutting your foam into rugs.
- Draw some fun squiggles to make the foam look like oriental rugs.
- Cut out a door.
- Cut a runner from the other color of foam.
- Add glue for the rugs and runner
- Pop them down.
- Time to add stickers- here is a close up of the stickers we are using. I found them at the St. Louis Art Museum ages ago but have seen them at the Vancouver Art Gallery .
- Add them to your box. The Mona Lisa is from the cover, I’d already used the sticker, I just taped it on.
- Add the furniture- I used a few blocks.
- Add your doorway. My son has been saying “Please pay for museum here” when he plays. If you have time you could make a little desk!
- Time to play.
“Babar’s Museum of Art” by Laurent de Brunhoff is one of my favorite art books for kids. My son has recently decided he hates it because he doesn’t want to see the elephant versions of the art. All the art in the museum are masterpieces that you will recognize redone with elephants. He slams the page in the way only toddlers with a definite sense of justice can and says ” No elephant paintings Mama, real ones!” Trust me though this book is awesome and he loved it a few months ago. The story is about how Queen Celeste wants to change the abandoned railway station into a museum to house all their collected art . The museum itself looks just like the Musee D’Orsay in Paris and the story also explains art for children.
“In The Garden With Van Gogh“ by Julie Merberg and Suzanne Bober is a little board book filled with easy rhymes and great art. The book doesn’t really have a story so much as a theme but it works. My son enjoyed it and asked to read it again after we were done. I like that books likes all these bring art into little hands for them to explore.