Art Museum Games & Tips

art for kidsTaking kids to an art museum can be an unpredictable adventure. They might love it, browse the art along with you and beg not to leave. They may also barely scan the art, try to touch everything and use the voice you begged them to only use on the soccer field the whole time. Kids are kids and expecting them to adore things that aren’t completely designed for them and then being angry or disappointed when they act their age is not really fair.  That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t expose our kids to art at art museums or give them expectations to live up to. What it does mean is that we help them reach these goals by giving them some tools.

Here are 5 simple games you can play with your kids at the art museum to keep them engaged in the art .

Secret Painting

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This game was created by my 6 year old on the way to the museum on Friday. I was explaining the next game on our list when he announced from his car seat that he had a better idea. I ran with it.

How to play :
One player chooses a work of art in a room/gallery but does not tell the other players which one it is. The other players try to guess which work of art is the secret one. You can ask for clues that give a yes or no answers just like in the game 20 questions. Whoever finds the secret one first gets to choose the next one in the next room/gallery .

art museum tips for kids

I’ll Take That One !

How To Play:
Each player chooses one piece of art in each room/gallery to pretend they are going to buy from the museum. They must also say where they would put the art in their own home.

art museums

Build A Rainbow

How To Play :
This is essentially a color hunt. In each gallery see if you and your kids can find every color of the rainbow. To make it more challenging you can add a rule that you can only find one color per painting. So that painting with the rainbow … yeah not going to cut it! This is a great game to play with toddlers, just make sure that they know that art is for looking at and not touching ( we are still working on that too ).

museum tips for kids

I Spy

How To Play:
Choose a color from inside a painting and the players can make guesses to what element it may be. For example if there is a brown dog in a painting the spyer will say ” I spy something brown” and the guessers will look for all the brown items in the painting, hopefully guessing the dog. This works great with kids of similar ability levels. My kids are just getting to the point where they can play games like this together and I love it. With older children you could do this with artists or genres saying ” I spy a Jackson Pollock” or ” I spy an impressionist painting.”. Adapt it to your kids.exploring art museums with kids

 

10 Tips For A Fun Museum Trip ( even with toddlers )

  1. Go early when there are fewer crowds and your kids are fresh and open to learning.
  2. Go on a full belly.
  3. Look at the map together and find the bathrooms on the map. Suggest you check them out right away.
  4. Go on a free day so if you must abort ship when a meltdown arises you aren’t out an admission price . It can be busier but if your child isn’t the quietest ( I know mine aren’t) the crowds tend to make a loud toddler voice less distracting and make your trip more pleasant. You can talk to your kids in a regular voice and not worry about your kiddo being quiet.
  5. Find out if photography is allowed and if it is hand your kids a camera to document their trip.
  6. In and out. Most museums will allow you to have in and out privileges so if your kids need a breather take one.
  7. Play games to keep kids engaged . Some museums will have kid friendly maps or guides .
  8. Bring a sketch book.
  9. Know when they are done and find the nearest exit. Don’t try to see just one more thing. If you see the signs of a meltdown just go.
  10. Visit the gift shop and after you return home read about art, museums and artists to keep the learning going.

Books About Art Museums

Babar's Museum Of Art

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.

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Meet Me at the Art Museum: A Whimsical Look Behind the Scenes by Davis Goldin was a gift shop find at the museum we visited last week and the perfect book to keep my kids learning and interested. I read it to them while they ate lunch after our morning visit and they both really liked it. The book is a behind the scenes tour of an art museum. My daughter liked the inanimate objects that were turned into characters like the ticket stub and name tag while my son loved the insider info like how they choose paintings to display , check to make sure they aren’t fakes, and the security devices they use. I loved how it really explained the different jobs at the museum from docent to archivist to director and curator. The book held both their attention and reading it right after out trip gave us a fresh experience to relate it to.

Museum Trip

Museum Trip by 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!

 

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Summer Activities For Kids

summer reading Happy first day of summer! I had a completely different post planned but when I went to schedule it I realized today is the first day of summer and we must celebrate. Below are my favorite active games, messy art, sensory play and other summer shenanigans for kids.  I hope a few grab your attention and get added to your family’s summer bucket list.

Outside In The Sun

Build and Play Obstacle Course
Water Table Painting
Flag Hunt
Squeeze Bottle Side Walk Chalk
Hiking With Kids
Backyard Target Practice
Arctic Ice Sensory Tub
Fly Swatter Painting
Boot Camp Bombers
Melt In The Sun Crayons
Water Balloon Math
Smartphone Photo Safari Color Hunt
Angry Birds Water Balloon Game
Beach Themed Sensory Tub
Backyard Photo Scavenger Hunt

Inside On A Rainy Day

DIY Action Figure Parachute
Bubble Wand Painting
3D Word Search
Indoor Bug Hunt
Ice Cream Taste Testing
Tabletop Loose Parts
Salt Art Jar
Make Your Own Balance Beam
Pretend Play Vet’s Office
Bug Painting
Secret Code Math
Move & Groove Alphabet Game
Cork & Button Builders
Giant Sunflower Craft
Mad Scientist Lab

Don’t Forget About Summer Reading

Summer Reading Challenge – Join Us!
Summer Reading Bucket List
Books That Make Kids Laugh
Book Hunt
Books About The Beach
30 Books That Are Also Movies
Books About Monsters
50 Ways To Teach Your Child To Read
Books About Princesses
Summer Reading A-List ; 50 Must Read Picture Books
Books About Dinosaurs
5 Books For Early Readers
Books That Rhyme
Books About Cars and Trucks
Books About Friendship

For even more ideas make sure you follow our Summer Fun For Kids Pinterest board.

Masterpiece Memory Game

While browsing through the kid section of the gift shop at The Art Institute of Chicago I saw a fine art memory game that I wanted, what I didn’t want was the price tag, or the extra weight in my suitcase on the trip home. So instead I grabbed a few packs of Art Stickers ( for $1.50 each) and made my own. Memory games like this are great to teach basic game playing etiquette , good sportsmanship as well as an appreciation of the subject matter.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some card stock, fine art stickers and scissors.
  2. Start by cutting your card stock into squares. I made 16 ( 8 pairs) which seems to be a great and manageable number of pairs  for my son . Memory games have never been his strong suit so follow your own child’s abilities and you can always add or remove cards as needed.
  3. Pop the stickers on. I made the pairs match up with card color too as an extra hint for my son since I am trying to encourage him to play this game more without it ending in frustration over not getting it right away.
  4. All done.
  5. Flip over .
  6. Time to play.
  7. He made a match!

This game was a bigger hit this time than memory has ever been before, not sure if it was the color hint , subject matter or simply the right game on the right day. All I know is to keep trying lessons, games and activities even if they weren’t hits initially.

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Books About Fine Art

Touch the Art: Brush Mona Lisa’s Hair by Julie Appel and Amy Guglielmo is the inspiration for this post and my son’s new found love of Renaissance Art. The book is a board book with touch and feel aspects to it. The text is cute but not a story, each page asks the reader to do something with the touch and feel item . The real gem is bringing the art to young eyes. The book includes wonderful masterpieces : Girl with A Pearl Earring , Birth of Venus, The Arnolfini Portrait and more!

Katie Meets The Impressionists by 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!

Here’s Looking at Me: How Artists See Themselves (Bob Raczka’s Art Adventures) is devoted to self portraits and the story behind each one in this fascinating book. This is a book for children older than my son who is 4 but I still showed him every painting ( all self portraits) and read highlights of the text which I found fascinating and can’t wait to share it with my kids when they are a little older. I read a lot of art history books for fun and I learned a few things reading this.  I can’t think of a better book to couple with a lesson about self portraits for kids 6-12.