In the primary classroom, we offer children cultural stories to help them gain an appreciation for art and art history. We introduce them to various artists, art genres, and art periods by telling stories about the artwork on the walls, giving lessons with the art folders, and having conversations about various artists. Each of these cultural stories shares interesting facts related to art and spurs the children to engage in activities associated with what they have learned.
Activities for Art Appreciation
Artist Cultural Story ages 3 to 6 ½
Directions: Introduce your child to your favorite artist. Take five minutes and develop a cultural story about one of your favorite artists and share it with your child. Use one of the cultural story examples below as a guideline.
- Find fun facts: Take a moment to jot down a few fun facts about your favorite artist. Consider including where they were born, any interesting facts about their lives, and what inspired them to become an artist. (Avoid sharing facts about significant hardships. We want to keep things light for our primary-aged children).
- Ask Why: Consider why you like this artist. Are you drawn to the artist’s vivid use of color? Did you learn about this artist when you were a child? Have you seen this artist’s work in an exhibit?
- Pick a few samples: Find 2-3 pieces of art to share with your child that represent this artist’s most celebrated works. Make a note of the names of these art pieces and when they were created.
- Share: Introduce your child to your favorite artist. Share why you like the artist and give a few fun facts about the artist as well. Include a few new vocabulary words, if possible. If your artist painted with oils on canvas, explain what a canvas is. If your artist’s works are classified as pop art, explain this genre to your child.
- Conversation: Ask your child what he or she thinks of the art you have shared. Ask open-ended questions such as, “What stood out to you the most about this artwork?” or “What do you see when you look at these pieces?” At first, your child may not have much to say. However, they will begin to engage over time and appreciate your interest in your opinion.
- Follow Up: Encourage your child to choose an activity to try based on the story you shared. They may be inspired to try their hand at painting, drawing, or collage. They may want to learn more about the place the artist was born.
Cultural Story Examples:
Francisco de Goya
Henry Ossawa Tanner
Additional Art Appreciation Activities:
Famous Art Memory Game ages 3 to 6 ½
Directions: Print out the memory cards. Mix up the cards. Lay them face down in rows. Turn over any two cards. If the two pictures match, you can collect them. If they do not match, turn them back over in the same spot. Pay attention to where the pictures are placed so that you can remember where to find them again later. Take turns looking for matches with the other players. The game is over when all the cards have been matched. This game can be played with up to 4 players.
Tree-Inspired Art- 3 Part Cards ages 5 ½ and up
Directions: Print and cut the three-part cards that depict tree-inspired art by famous artists. Each art piece will have a classified card, a printed slip, and a control card (depicting the classified card and its associated slip). Mix up the classified cards and slips. Read and match the slips to the famous artwork. Check your work with the control card.
Fruit-Inspired Art- 3 Part Cards ages 5 ½ and up
Directions: Print and cut the three-part cards that depict fruit-inspired art by famous artists. Each art piece will have a classified card, a printed slip, and a control card (depicting the classified card and its associated slip). Mix up the classified cards and slips. Read and match the slips to the famous artwork. Check your work with the control card.
Hand-Inspired Art- 3 Part Cards ages 5 ½ and up
Directions: Print and cut the three-part cards that depict hand-inspired art by famous artists. Each art piece will have a classified card, a printed slip, and a control card (depicting the classified card and its associated slip). Mix up the classified cards and slips. Read and match the slips to the famous artwork. Check your work with the control card.
Many museums are now offering access and free, unrestricted use of their collections. This offering includes access to a wealth of high-resolution downloads that can be used to share artwork with the children.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art: In 2017, the Met made all images of public-domain works in its collection available under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0). Visit their website to enjoy thousands of images from art throughout the ages.
The Art Institute of Chicago: The Art Institute of Chicago now offers free, unrestricted use of over 50,000 images of works in the collection believed to be in the public domain.
J. Paul Getty Museum: The Getty makes available, without charge, all available digital images to which the Getty holds the rights or that are in the public domain to be used for any purpose. No permission is required.
The Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential’s Encyclopedic Knowledge Series offers a beautiful set of art information cards through The Gentle Revolution Press. These “Bit of Intelligence” cards include sets that provide information about Great Art Masterpieces, Portraits of Great Artists, and other sets which can also be used to explore art appreciation. Use the search tool to explore all this site has to offer.