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Part of the excitement and fun of homeschooling is exploring topics that unintentionally arise and pique your child’s interest. A Van Gogh unit study that we recently completed fits right into that category. It was such a great surprise to see the children interested in this artist and his amazing works.
It began with one book and an art project and expanded into subsequent art projects and additional books as the children’s interest grew.
I had planned to complete a Van Gogh Sunflower project from Home Art Studio-Kindergarten with Lindsey Volin, simply because it was one of the few lessons on the video that Kellan (age 8) hadn’t already completed. I had been looking for an art project for Jenna and Alaina (both age 5) and wanted to choose something that Kellan could work on too.
So, I decided to have the kids complete the Sunflowers project and included a book to read about Van Gogh. Well, that prompted some discussion about Van Gogh and as their interest was piqued I decided to add additional books and art projects. In turn, we spent a couple of weeks learning about this talented artist!
The Home Art Studio videos are a great resource for someone like me who does not have an art background. The art projects are interesting and valuable, the kids love watching the videos and the instructions are really easy to follow. We have both Kindergarten and First Grade but there are lessons available through Fifth Grade. Based on the projects we have completed, I would say that many of them are appropriate for a range of ages.
Their Sunflower projects turned out beautifully!
Art Projects for Kids is a wonderful website full of various art project ideas and we followed the Van Gogh Wheatfield from the site. I sat the laptop on the table and we followed the step-by-step instructions to create their own Van Gogh inspired wheat fields . I love how they turned out!
We looked at some of Van Gogh’s works and discussed how he used swirling brush strokes to create some of his works. The Starry Night is a great example of this. I then read the book Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature to the children in order to reflect a bit on the beauty of swirls.
For the next project, I had the children section a piece of 11″ x 14″ construction paper into four rectangles. They used four different mediums to create swirls in each section.
We then talked about the differences of each and how it felt to create the swirls and get the effect they wanted. They used markers, watercolor paints, chalk pastels and oil pastels. We discussed Van Gogh’s brushstrokes and liberal use of paint to create a certain effect.
The children also explored the use of color as they painted The Starry Night using black, blue and yellow paint on a printable version of Van Gogh’s Starry Night that I found at In the Playroom, where they used it to create a sponge painting.
And of course, we read some books! We read several related to Vincent Van Gogh, his life, his technique, and his works of art.
There are several works by Van Gogh highlighted in the A Child’s Book of Art which shows works by a variety of great artists.
Joey and I took the kids to the art museum for the first time and although they didn’t have any of Van Gogh’s works there, we were able to admire many beautiful works of art (And we also saw some that we totally didn’t “get”. Like one that looked like a bunch of smeared paint on canvas, which prompted one of the girls to say “I could do that!”).
We casually discussed various artists, movements and techniques as we walked around the museum. Nothing forced or preplanned, we just enjoyed the experience (except for one wee little meltdown) and commented as we saw things that were interesting to us!