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Young artists creating in the style of famous artists 1

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.  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 launch our artists' study we have the discussion "what is art?" and "what tools do artists use to create their art?".  We read Art is by Bob Raczka.  We put out a bin of books on art: lines, shapes, photography, artists, ABC art books, stories, anything that we think portrays and relates to art.  As the year goes on we add books on each artist we learn about. 

Here are some of the artists we've studied:  

Piet Mondrian

We always start with Piet Mondrian.  We like the fact that the main elements of his work (the pieces that we study) are so basic: primary colors, horizontal and vertical lines, squares and rectangles. 

We start with a discussion about colors and do some color mixing.  On another day we show a Smartboard slideshow (Download Lesson mondrian) of Piet Mondrian (please download the interactive viewer here) and his work and we give the children basic information (Download Piet Mondrian)  about his life.  Next lesson is a review of the main elements of the artist's work.  Last, the children create a piece based on Piet Mondrian's style. 


  • Mondrian by Hans L. Jaffe

Project materials:

  • easel/painting paper(if you cut it into squares it will be even more like a Mondrian)

  • black paper strips of various lengths

  • bins of primary colors (red, blue, yellow) for watch table

  • glue, scissors, thin paintbrushes


The children place the black strips vertically and horizontally to create squares and rectangles  on their white background.  Once they are certain of their design they glue the strips down.  Next the children decided what primary colors they want to use to color in some or all of their shapes.  Let dry and then cut off any parts of the black strips that are hanging off the paper.


Mondrian 3       Mondrian 4       Mondrian 2       Mondrian 1 


                                                                     Mondrian 1         


Faith Ringgold

We love studying Faith Ringgold because many of the students know her work from her children's book Tar Beach.  We often tie this project in with Black History Month. 

First we show a Smartboard slide show (Download Faith Ringgold ) of Faith Ringgold (please download the interactive viewer here) and her work and we give the children basic information (download)  about her life.  Next, we do a review of the main elements of the artist's work and read Tar Beach.  Lastly, the children "claim" a place in NYC that they love or are familiar with and create a piece based on Faith Ringgold's style. 



Project materials:

  • fabric squares

  • pieces of colored fabric (to sew the quilt together)

  • tempera paint (we always provide skin tones along with other colors)

  • think paintbrushes

  • sharpie or fabric pen


Tape each square of fabric down on the table.  Make sure you place a piece of tape across the bottom of the fabric, about three fingers from th end.  This will ensure that you have enough room to write the words that go with the picture.  The children think of their favorite place in the city or a landmark they know.  They paint their picture.  Once dry, the teacher writes the words on the bottom, " I claim (place that student names)".  The teacher sews together all the pieces to create a quilt.

  Faith 2     Faith w2      Fath w1                 Faith 1



Jackson Pollock

Pollock is a really fun artist to study.  His artwork is not what most children think of when you ask them "what is art?".  However, it does look like some of their art and they LOVE experimenting in his style whether at the easel (be prepared for a messy class) or during the final project.  At the end of the year when we ask them who their favorite artist was many children name Pollock.

First we show a Smartboard slide show  of Jackson Pollock (please download the interactive viewer here) and his work and we give the children basic information about his life.  Next, we do a review of the main elements of the artist's work and read Action Jackson by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan.  Lastly, the children create a piece based on Pollock's style.  For an interactive activity visit Action Painting on a Smartboard


Project materials:

  • small canvases (these can be expensive so you can use paper instead)

  • tempera paint

  • smocks (you HAVE to send a letter home to ask parents to dress their child in old clothes that they don't mind getting paint on.  Make sure you do the same!)

  • variety of tools to paint with: brushes, spoons, sticks, whisks


Clear a space in your classroom where you can lay out the easels (or paper) on the floor.  We have done this in two different ways.  You can keep each easel separate and each child picks the colors and creates his/her work.  A second way is to put all the easels together like a big canvas (more like Pollock’s huge canvases) and have the children work on it as a one big piece, and then give them any one to take home.  If you have limited space, option one might be better as you can control the mess a little more.  Either way, you can only have a few (we don’t do more than 4) children at a time working on the project.  Encourage them to move around the canvas, use their whole body when painting, and experiment with the various tools.  When displaying the artwork you can show it as individual pieces or reconnect it to show it as one big piece.  The pictures below show samples of both.


Individual work:

Pollock 2        Pollock 3      Pollock 4      Pollock 5 


Group work:

Pollock 1          Pollock w1       Pollock w2       Poloock w3       



I will be sharing more about our artists' study in a future post.  Please share with us your ideas if you have done or seen similar projects. 



For the love of Oobleck....

More and more, we are finding that our children need more opportunities for sensory exploration and play.   We have learned that they never grow out of our playdough, the sand and water table and we have recently purchased tactile balls for Recess.  But an oldie but goodie is Oobleck.

Oobleck makes for a dynamite science lesson and can be introduced in an average 30-45minute classtime.  It can help follow-up any lesson about liquids -vs- solids.   We tend to read the Dr. Seuss book, Bartholemew and the Oobleck and use it to jumptart a discussion about whether oobleck is a solid or a liquid?  Make a prediction chart. Let the kids measure out the recipe and make it themselves.  i promise you a great time!! Our kids love learning about solids and liquids in this hands-on manner.  if you wantt o make ahead of time, you can always have them explore first and ask them what they noticed about the substance.

Kids tend to notice that:

  • Oobleck is both a solid and a liquid.
  • If you squeeze it, you can make a shape iwth it but when you release it the substance will melt all over.
  • Oobleck will not bounce
  • If it sits out in direct sunlight, it will harden on top and stay goopy down below.
  • Oobleck can e forced to take a shape but if released will melt.

Oobleck Recipe

2 cups of corn starch
3/4 cups of water (pour just enough to make a thick mixture then play with your amount of water)
8-15 drops of food coloring

Materials: Plastic bin, Spoons, Measuring cups & Towels (for cleanup time)
Mix it all together and have a blast!!!

Halloween Fun

Halloween is such a fun time of year.  We always enjoy carving a pumpkin and reading stories in the dark by our Jack-o-lantern.  However, there are other fun activities that can relate to any area of the curriculum.  Below are a few that we or other colleagues have done over the years.

Language Arts
Scary pictures:  This is a simple writing activity based on the big book “In the Dark, Dark Wood.”  First we read the book and then the children create a scary picture and finish the sentence by stretching out their words.  The children love this activity and having them draw on black or blue paper makes it really different.
                         Dark_1_6                      Dark_2                   Dark_3

Monster Blobs
:  To prep this activity fold a piece of paper in half and then open it again.  Have the children paint one side of the paper and then fold it in half so that the paint spreads to both sides.  Unfold the paper and add eyes.  Find out about each monster by asking the children questions such as:  “What is your monster’s name? Where does your monster live?  What does it like to eat?  What does it like to do?”  Type their monster descriptions and display them with their pictures.  The children like the surprise element when they unfold their paper and their monster is revealed.  They are usually very amused by all the interesting monsters that their classmates create. 

                  Monster_1               Monster_2                Monster_3

Witch's Brew:  Pretend you are looking for ideas for a brew for Halloween.  Go around the circle and ask each child to contribute an ingredient.  Encourage the students to use as much descriptive language as possible, such as slimy, slithering, hairy, venomous…

Spiders:  Use a small soup bowl for the spider’s body.  Paint it black.  Once it dries use paints or dark paper crayons to decorate it.  Fold or twist strips of black paper for the legs and staple or glue them on.  Add eyes.  We usually hang the spiders from our lights but they also look great taped to the wall.  Every year we get compliments on our spiders from people visiting our room.   
                                            Spiders_3                   Spiders_1

Jack-o-lanterns:  Fold a piece of orange construction paper the long way.  Make slits by cutting the paper starting at the fold and moving outward.  Do NOT cut to the edge of the paper.  If you cut all the way you will make strips instead of just slits in the paper.  Repeat a few times.  Unfold the paper and staple or tape the long sides together in order to create the pumpkin.  Use tissue paper to create a ghost and tie it to the pumpkin.



Patterns:  Usually we are studying patterns around this time of year so we created this activity to combine that unit with Halloween.  First each child votes which type of headpiece they want to make: witch’s hat, bat, or pumpkin.  This is done a day before the actual activity in order to have time to prep everything.  Each child should have a headpiece and a strip that will be attached to it and will allow them to wear it.  Next prepare the pictures for the pattern.  Look online to find clipart of Halloween related items: ghosts, pumpkins, candy corn, black cats, monsters, spiders, bats.  Print out rows of each one.  Cut out the rows and put some of each in trays.  The children cut out the pictures and create a Halloween pattern.  They glue the pictures in the pattern on their strip.  Next they decorate their headpiece.  Finally you attach the headpiece to the patterned strip.  Although this was a simple activity, our kids really got into it.  We will wear our headpieces during our Halloween lunch party.


:  Get two identical jars.  Put 10 candy corns in one jar.  Put another amount in the other jar.  Ask the children to look at the ten and try to estimate how much candy corn is in the other jar.  Each child writes down their estimate on a little card.  Put a large number line down on the floor.  Place each estimate on the number line asking questions such as:  “Is 13 more or less than 10?  How many more?”  Then count the candy corn.  If you have a big 100s chart/poster you can put the candy corn on the chart as you count.  If you don’t have a 100s chart, place the candy in rows of ten to make recounting easier.

Will it float?:  Children are always amazed to find out that pumpkins float.  Get a clear container of water and a small pumpkin.  Ask the children to guess whether the pumpkin will float or sink in the water.  Place the pumpkin in the water to see what happens.  Ask the children to explain why the pumpkin floats.  Then they can also experiment with various other objects such as a ball, an empty bottle of water, a full bottle of water, a block, a pebble.

                                     Sinkfloat_2                  Sinkfloat_3

Please share with us some Halloween activities that you and your students enjoy at this time of year.  We are always looking for new fun things to do with our class.

Happy Halloween!


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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.