We spent three weeks this summer exploring Europe with the kids. Before our trip, the kids and I spent about two weeks studying the artist and art works we would see during our trip. The time we devoted to our art study was well worth it. The kids were able to identify art works and and were able to spend time just looking at and enjoying the experience. Visiting museums with kids can be challenging, but our preparation made the experience more enjoyable. We got to spend time looking at works of art that interested us instead of trying to see every piece of art in a museum.
We used following guiding questions for our art study:
- What is art?
- What makes art good?
- Who is an artist?
- Who decides?
We followed a timeline of art history and spent time looking at artists and/or key pieces from the periods listed below. We began learning about early art and examined the Lascaux Cave Art. Then briefly looked at ancient and medieval art. We focused our art study on Renaissance Art, Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, and Modern Art because we were traveling to Florence and Paris. In Florence we planned to visit the Accademia Gallery and the Uffizi Gallery. In Paris, we would visit the Louvre (briefly), Musee d’Orsay, Musee de l’Orangerie, and the Centre Pompidou.
- Cave Art from 30,000 BC
- Art of Ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome
- Medieval Period
- Modern Art
I began each of our art lessons with a brief description of the time period and showed the kids examples of art from that period. Then we looked at key pieces of art and discussed what we noticed about the art work.
- What do you see?
- What did the artist paint?
- What art materials did the artist use?
- How is similar or different from other art we have looked at?
I read aloud books about various artists and their life. We learned that Michelangelo and DaVinci were rivals and insulted each other. We learned that many artists were friends and encouraged each other while others were lonesome and troubled.
The bulk of our art study was spent making our own creations. I prepared art materials to explore and set the purpose of each project. The kids used soft pastels, oil pastels, acrylic paint, and tempera paint during our two week study. Above are photos from the day we looked at work from Claude Monet. The kids grew familiar with his style and that of other artist of the time, like Edgar Degas, Paul Cezanne, Camille Pissarro, and American artist Mary Cassatt.
I learned a lot about looking at art with children this summer. Our visit to the Centre Pompidou really pushed the kids’ ideas about what art is and who can be an artist. They could not stop talking and critiquing the art works at the Pompidou. Their opinions on modern art really took me by surprise.
In my next post I want to share tips for visiting museums with children as well as how to look at Modern art.