Art is not part of the curriculum in our school district, instead all elementary art lessons are taught by parent volunteers. Once a month I volunteer to teach in my daughter’s class. A monthly art lesson seems a little piecemeal and I often wish that there was time to delve deeper into projects. With this in mind, I often teach lessons that inspire children to discover a new medium or learn about an unfamiliar type of art. Picture books can be a good starting point. Below are some of my favourites .
- The Noisy Paint Box
My children are fascinated by abstract art. I recently introduced them to the works of Kandinsky after they created abstract art on our mirror table. This book tells the story of Kandinsky’s life as an artist and explains how he expressed his feelings and senses through painting. As a boy he felt he could hear the paint box hissing and at a classical music concert saw colours and shapes before his eyes, that expressed the music.
After reading the book,encourage children to paint what they feel as they listen to a piece of classical music. Discuss their feelings and document some of their comments with the painting. Try playing different genres of music to see how their reactions change and explore together how this was reflected in their painting. A large scale collaborative painting to music could develop this theme further. Explore the differences in expression and how they all fit together to make a complete painting.
The captivating black and white illustrations in this textless graphic novel inspired this project about monsters. The drawings here were in charcoal but pencil drawing or pen and ink would work equally well.
3. The Mr Men
Strangely, the Mr Men have been one of the girls favourite things to draw and model for some time. The book’s back cover displaying all the Mr Men make it easy for them to choose a Mr Man to copy.
They used polymer clay to make 3D representations. Their simple forms make them perfect for introducing young children to polymer clay or modelling smaller characters. It also helps them to see how their drawings can be translated into a 3 dimensional model.
They even created their own Mr Man – Mr Tae Kwondo.
4. How are you Peeling?
We loaned this book from the library and it was a firm favourite. On each page fruit and vegetables are photographed to represent an expression or emotion. It has inspired us to search the supermarket for interesting vegetables and would be even more fun if you grow your own. It would make a wonderful photography project.
5. Leaf Man
Leaf Man is a good introduction to collage and art using natural materials. The story of leaf man is illustrated using photocopies of leaves on a colourful torn paper background. We used this for an art lesson in my daughter’s Kindergarten class and here are some of the finished projects.
The Tiny Seed – paint flicking
The Hungry Caterpillar – collage (Eric Carle describes how he creates his pictures in this slideshow.)
Camille and the Sunflowers – a story about Van Goch
4 thoughts on “5 Picture Books to Inspire Children’s Art Projects”
Can I ask where you are that art isn’t in the curriculum? Like, not at all? Wow.
Washington state in the US. It is standard here, music and p.e are funded but art not. All art is funded by the ptsa. Crazy isn’t it!
I figured out where you were when I saw your post about the Woodland Park Zoo. I spent two weeks in Seattle 5 years ago when I did Anne Green Gilbert’s course for teachers at the Creative Dance Center – we loved that zoo too! It’s astonishing that visual art isn’t funded – such an important language of expression for children!