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Young artists creating in the style of famous artists 2

We love doing art in our classroom and we try to integrate it in our thematic curriculum as much as possible.  However, two years ago, thanks to our colleague Amy Kim, we decided to explore the artwork of particular artists.  Although we don't agree with copying art, we do think that exposing our students to artists' styles helps them expand the way they think about art and the way they create art.  Each year we pick about seven artists to study depending on our curriculum, museum exhibits, and personal favorites.  We do make sure to include male and female artists, living artists, and artists of a diverse background.  Each month we study a different artist and then create a piece in his/her style.  The children love going home to teach their families about what they've learned.  

Here are some of the artists we've studied:  

Vincent Van Gogh

We usually talk about Van Gogh in the spring when we learn about flowers in our science curriculum.  We show the children a Smartboard slide show of him and his work and give them basic information about his life and style.  Next lesson is a review of the main elements of the artist's work.  Last, the children create a piece based on the Van Gogh's style.

Project materials:

  • painting paper

  • bins of colors for each table

  • thick and thin paintbrushes

  • a bouquet of sunflowers on each table


Van Gogh 1 Van Gogh 2The children decide which flower/s they want to paint and if it will be the whole flower or part of it.  Then they start to paint using individual strokes in Van Gogh's style.  Obviously some children just paint in the way they are used to, but we don't have a problem with that.





Romare Bearden


We usually talk about Bearden during our unit on jazz.  We show the children a Smartboard slide show of him and his work and give them basic information about his life and style.  Next lesson is a review of the main elements of the artist's work.  Last, the children create a piece based on th Bearden's style.  Needless to say that we listen to jazz while we create.  At the end of this unit we usually go to a performance at "Jazz at Lincoln Center" where they have copies of some of Bearden's work.


Project materials:

  • watercolor paper

  • pencils, thin sharpies, watercolors

  • scissors

  • different types of paper and materials


This project takes multiple days.  When we started talking about Bearden we were in between our study of school and neighborhood community.  So we decided to have the children draw our school.  We took them outside and had them draw the building using pencil.  At the same time, a teacher took pictures of the building that the children later were able to use as collage material.  Next the students went over their drawing with sharpie and watecolors.  Then they cut and glued on any of the collage materials we had available: pictures, many different types of paper, material scraps, photos of themselves and classmates.



                    Bearden 1                         Bearden 2      Bearden 3       





Andy Warhol


We usually talk about Warhol at the end of the year.  We show the children a Smartboard slide show of him and his work and give them basic information about his life and style.  Next lesson is a review of the main elements of the artist's work.  Last, the children create a piece based on th Warhol's style. 


Project materials:

  • children's photos, frame of six

  • colored pencils



We take a picture of each student.  We make the pictures black and white and create a frame of six with each one.  Then the children use colored pencils to color in their individual frame of six photos.  This project was conceived by our assistant Marisa Rose.


Warhol 1                Warhol 2      Warhol 3      Warhol 4





Museum Visit


Museum 1 Museum 2 At the end of the year we visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art (we are in New York City) to see some of the artists' work that we've studied.  It is amazing to walk through the halls and have the children spot a Mondrian or a Pollock and watch their faces light up with excitement!  




To learn more about how we launch our artists' unit and see some of the other artists we've studied please visit our previous post "Young artists creating in the style of famous artists 1."


Please share your ideas with us if you have done similar projects.

Habitat art: rainforest, desert

Our class has always enjoyed every habitat that we have studied.  We usually incorporate a slideshow, puzzles, games, field trips  and anything else we can into our studies.  However, we find that the art activities that we do related to each habitat are always some of the students' favorites and most memorable.  Here are some that we have done for our study of the rainforest and the desert. 

Rainforest habitat model:  We explain to the class that we will be making a model of the rainforest.  The children brainstorm what should be included in the model and we made a list.  First we made the background on butcher paper.  This was done by student volunteers and a teacher to make sure that all levels of the rainforest were depicted.  Then each child made an animal.  They looked through pictures and books to find out what their animal looked like.  Over the years, I have collected many pictures of animals and landscapes from friends' old calendars.  Next volunteer writers made labels by copying the names found in books.  We added a desk, some writing materials, magnifying glasses, binoculars and a few other things to make a scientists' center.  Then the children played in the area.  It was a great success!

Rain back1   Rain back2    Rain back3   Rain back4                 Painting animals1   Painting animals2  Painting animals3  Painting animals4

Rain final1-09   Rain final2              Scientist1   Scientist2  Scientist4  Scientist5

Desert paintings:  At the end of our desert unit we asked the children to make a picture depicting the desert.  First they closed their eyes and thought of what they wanted to include in their pictrures.  Then they used craypas and watercolors do create their pictures.  We provided pictures and books if they wanted to use them as reference.  At the end we gave them the option of glueing on real sand. 

IMG_9402      IMG_9404      IMG_9403      IMG_9405      IMG_9406     

Desert animals:  This is another project that we have done at the end of our desert unit.  The children picked an desert animal that they then created using clay.  We provided pictures and books if they wanted to use them as reference.  We baked and painted the clay.  Some children made a background for tehir animal.

IMG_6597      IMG_6598     IMG_6599     IMG_6600

IMG_6625 IMG_6626 Georgia O'Keefe:  We studied Georgia O'Keefe as the artist of the month since she was inspired by desert landscapes.  Then the children created a piece inspired her art.  They used craypas and watercolor.  They had the choice of painting bones, flowers, shells or a combination of those elements. 

To see an example of other activities that we do for a habitat unit please visit our post on the polar habitat.   

Please share with us any other art projects or ideas you have for these habitats or any other.  Thanks!

Learning about habitats: polar

We find that winter is the perfect time to talk about habitats, starting with the polar regions.  Children generally love animals so learning about them is usually something they really enjoy.  In our classroom, the teachers too love animals and nature and we feel that the more our students know about them the more they will respect and protect them in the future.  As part of our winter study and a precursor to polar habitats we learn about the water cycle. 

Liquid, solid, gas sort:  We put out various items or pictures that represent liquids, solids and gases.  The children help sort the items and discuss the characteristics and difference between the three groups.



Evaporation experiment:  We ask children what happens to water after it rains.  They usually know it dries out so we discuss their ideas about how this happens and where the water goes.  We ask them to think about what will happen to the water in the pot once it's heated.  We boil a pot of water in order to observe evaporation and condensation.  The children record their observations in their science journals.  This year we pasted a picture of the pot in their journals beforehand, but usually we let them draw everything. 

Freezing experiment:  We discuss what happens to water in the cold.  We place a cup of water along with other liquids and non-liquids in the freezer to see what will happen.  The children tend to hypothesize that everything will freeze.  The conclusion is that in general liquids freeze, especially if they have water in them like juice.

Introduction of "habitat":  We show the children pictures of various habitats and animals and ask them to match each animal with a habitat.

Polar habitat slide show: We use the smartboard to show them a slide show (Download Polar slideshow)  we created on the Arctic and the Antarctic.  Please download the interactive viewer here

Keeping warm experiment:  Ask the children if they think all animals could survive in the polar areas.  Why not?  Write down their responses.  Ask students what keeps them (students) warm in  the winter.  Have them draw in their science journals the clothing that keeps them warm.  Explain that polar animals have fur and/or a thick layer of fat called blubber that keep them warm.   Fill a bin or bowl with ice.  Each student feels the ice with a naked hand.  Then they feel the ice with a glove (fur).  Ask them which feels colder.  Next they feel the ice again with a naked hand.  Then with a blubber layer (a zip lock bag filled with Crisco).  Students compare which feels colder.

        Blubber1    Blubber experiment2                Polar journal3   Polarjournal1   Polar journal2   Polar journal1

Ice and animals Ice bin play:  We fill a big bin with a lot of ice and a little water.  We put in polar animals for the children to play with.  The students asked to put in unfix cubes too so we let them.  We use the Polar and Tundra Animal Collection by Lakeshore.  They have a variety of animals and also a little bit of information about each one.  The kids LOVE them.

Dot-to-dot: We put out dot-to-dot activities and coloring pages in the arts and crafts area for the children to use as they please.

Polar animal1 Favorite polar animal:  We ask  the children to share which is  their favorite polar animal and why.  Then they draw that animal in their science journals.  They look at books and pictures to help them with their drawing. 

Guestspekear A traveler from Antarctica:  Our assistant, Marisa Rose, had a friend who recently traveled to Antarctica.  She asked him to come in to share his experience with our class.  Trevor Sumner was really great with the kids.  He created a slide show and brought in some of his scuba diving gear to show the kids.  Needless to say that our students were speechless with both his photos and his stories!

Polar habitat mural:  We explain to the class that we will be making a mural depicting the polar habitats.  The children brainstorm what should be on the mural and we make a list.  Each child makes the item he/she named.  We usually have paper, cotton balls, and thin felt for them to use.  They look through pictures and books to find out what their animal or item looks like.  Over the years, I have collected many pictures of animals and landscapes from friends' old calendars.  Then we paint the background on two pieces of butcher paper. Next the beginner writers make labels by copying the names found in books.  The more advanced writers think of a fact that we have learned about some of the animals in the mural and write it on a flashcard.  We separate the mural into two sides and glue everything on.  One side in the Arctic and the other the Antarctic.

Making animals1 Making animals2 Making labels    Mural   Mural1  Mural2  Mural3

Here are some of the books we used:

Our class really enjoyed this unit.  Please let us know if you have any other activities that we could add to it.  In the near future I will also be sharing about our rainforest and desert studies.

Festival of Lights

Dear Readers,

Is it really December already?

Time is flying by and the energy in the classroom is incredible.  We have been on fast forward ever since we realized that we had three weeks after Thanksgiving instead of four.

We began talking about the Festival of Lights: Hannukah, Christmas, Diwali and Kwanzaa. Though Diwali was celebrated in November, we still try to incorporate its usage of light into our discussions of late Fall/Winter celebrations. 

To strengthen our study and the home/school connection, we decided to have parents come in to talk about their family traditions and/or cook with us. This week, we had a parent in to fry latkes and next week we will have a parent in to make a gingerbread house with us all.  The children love cooking activities during this holiday time.

Diwali Activities:
We use different colored sand to make Rangoli (beautiful designs) on the tables and use molding clay to form diyas, which are candle/wick holders.

Hannukah Activities:


We make latkes, use black 8x11 paper, cray pas and shiny paper to make menorahs or other things in our world that make light.  We also make dark/light blue and yellow rings to decorate the classroom.

Kwanzaa Activities:

Mkeka_mats_1We weave paper placemats (Mkeka) for their tables and learn to play the reknowned game, Mancala. We started sewing and weaving after talking to the children about the pilgrims and American Indians.  It takes them two to three weeks to complete these handmade projects and we interconnect them with Kwanzaa by suggesting that the children consider giving their weaving and sewing to their parents/grandparents as a     handmade holiday gift (Zawadi).


Christmas Activities:


The pine cones that we collectedf rom our Fall walk in October/November will be decorated with paint and glitter to make a christmas tree ornament.  We will also make a gingerbread house, buy one at your local market.  It takes one day to put the house together with fondant and the second day to decorate. We try to have our house done in time for our holiday party so that the parents can share the sweet treat with us. 

Joint celebratory activities include the stained glass candles from Alexandra's previous post(12/1).  These tissue paper candles are such a beautiful activity.  Once the candles are done, put them in your classroom window and watch your classroom change into a kaleidescope of colors. 

At the beginning of the year, we adopted a tree in the park.  to represent our tree throughout the seasons, we created one in our classroom.  For Thanksgiving, we turned our tree into a 'Thankful tree' by writing what we were thankful for on a leaf and placing it on the tree.  As we move into this holiday time, we leave the leaves up and add lights to brighten the room.  It is as though we have our very own christmas tree. 

Whatever you do in your classroom, have fun.
Use their enthusiasm and excitement and put it to work.

Please share your favorite activities, we would love to learn what others are doing.

Thanks for reading.


Stain glass-like candles

Holidays are around the corner and the children are already excited.  In our classroom we usually talk about four festivals of light:  Diwali, Hanukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa.  Although we do a number of activities related to these festivals, there is one that I really love.  The “window/stain glass candle” is simple, but it’s absolutely beautiful.  Every year it makes our dark classroom (due to NY winter) look so much more colorful, warm, and pleasant.


  • Dark colored construction paper – I think black works the best
  • Tissue paper cut in strips, about 1 inch thick
  • Glue
  • Scissors


  • Cut the construction paper down to the size you want it – we like 6x9 rectangles
  • Cut out a candle shape in each rectangle.  Depending on the cutting skills of your students you could just trace the candle shape and have them cut it out (or any other shape you might want to use.)
  • Put glue around the edge of the cutout. 
  • Place different colored tissue paper strips horizontally until you have covered the whole candle shape.  Make sure you overlap a little in order to avoid gaps.
  • Place a piece of construction paper with the same cutout over the tissue paper.  This step is not necessary but it makes the finished product look nice on both sides.
  • Tape your window/stain glass candle on a window, preferably where the sun comes in.

                Window_candle_2                Window_candles_2  

When parents or other people visit our room they always comment on how beautiful these look.  What’s great is that they look great both from inside our classroom and the street and they are so simple to make!

Art can heal!!

For the past two weeks, my eyes have been glued to the television screen as I watched hurricane after hurricane ravage our shores.  Most recently, the cities hit the hardest were New Orleans and the Houston/Galveston area.  My kids up here in NYC have only had eight full days of school and I can only imagine what the first days back to school will be like for the teachers and chldren in these areas.  I tried to put myself in the shoes of those teachers.  How would I help my young class refocus their attentions on my curriculum while addressing their need to acknowledge the devastation and upheaval in their lives? The recurring answer was to look to the arts as the tool to communicate and connect with the students.  Music, arts and crafts, drawing, painting, sculpting, movement and more can be very powerful healing tools and giving time for the children to express themselves in these manners may help them to deal with the struggles that they are facing outside of school. 

Have you ever noticed that your students sometimes talk or sing to themselves as they write and draw?  This is a great time to listen to their thoughts. If they are silently working, you may want to ask them what they are thinking about as they draw.  It may help deepen your understanding of them and might help you determine which children may need additional assistance in dealing with the tragedies that their families are facing at home.

After Hurricane Katrina, which devastated Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, the children of the Biloxi Public schools were given the opportunity to draw, paint and write about their experiences.  Ms. Barbara Barbieri McGrath shares their work in the book, The Storm: Students of Biloxi, Mississippi, Remember Hurricane Katrina.The work reminds you that children may be young but they are not too young to be strongly affected and changed by disaster.  They are not too young to understand suffering and loss.  We try to shield them from so much but sometimes it is out of our control  The one thing we can do is help show them ways to deal with and process tragedy.  We can guide them to find an art that they can express themselves through. 

My thoughts and prayers go out to all those touched by this seasons storms.


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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in Inside Naomi & Alexandra's Kindergarten Classroom are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.