I have been teaching art to children with ages ranging from 2 years to 6 years old for over a year now. I have the wonderful opportunity to teach at my son’s preschool. The love of art is something I have had since I could remember. Growing up, my mother owned a ceramic shop, she had everything to create ceramics from start to finish. She had hundreds of different molds and would hold painting classes. She was so talented and sadly had to sell everything when she became sick. I was told since I was little that I had a paint brush in my hand before I held a pencil and I take that with me my whole life. I feel like I have a little of my mother’s talent, I feel closer to her when I paint ceramics but at the same time makes me a little sad. When I was given the opportunity to teach little ones about art I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted them to have the chance to create art the way they want to create art. It is called Process Art. Yes, they can all make something cute using the same pieces or materials to create the exact same result, but I find it does not expand their creativity and imagination. Letting them have the control over what they want to use, where they want to use it, and the result it creates is something very magical. They take pride in the work they create because it looks completely different from their neighbor’s piece. It gives me great joy when I hear the kids say that their favorite thing to do at school is art each week.
A major topic I wanted to expose the children to was introducing them to famous artists. Now considering my age range it was difficult to figure out: 1. What would be appropriate 2. How much could I actually tell them that they would understand. My main focus the last two years has been on Vincent Van Gosh, Henri Matisse, and Claude Monet. These three artists I can show in a way that is very generalized and they make great pieces of art that children can create their own version of. I will more than likely make art lessons on the other two but today’s post will be about Henri Matisse.
Each of these artists definitely had a very colorful and in some cases depressing life. There are definitely facts and art pieces that are NOT age appropriate but I was able to find just basic information to share with the children and expand on that. With Henri Matisse I introduced him as a famous painter that was famous for his bold colorful art works. When he got older, he could no longer stand for long periods of time or be able to walk and had to use a wheelchair. Because of this he had to think of a new way to create art. He decided to “paint with scissors” using scissors to cut out big shapes and glue them onto big pieces of canvas on the walls. With the help of assistants and a long stick, he made huge murals that expanded over the entire wall. I showed them this picture:
This was a big concept for kids because I would expand my arms out showing them that his art work reached the ceiling and you would have to raise your head all the way up to the ceiling to see his art work. This gave the children the idea of how massive his art pieces became. This piece “The Sheaf” is a great example:
After explaining a little about the artist we transitioned to the art lesson. I showed this piece ” The Snail” where Henri Matisse use different sized pieces of paper cut in square and rectangle like shapes to create an almost collage like art work. I told them how he tried to put complimentary colors together and tried not overlap the same color next to each other. Our art lesson for the day was to create their own Henri Matisse paper art piece.
Here is the example I showed them that I created:
Here is how I set up the table:
I always start with paper over the table just in case of accidents, then I put a place mat (long sheet of pink paper) down to separate each work space and to have something to catch excess glue or paint. Then I have a flat plastic container to hold all the scrap paper. Our resource room has a scrap paper bin and I just grabbed a bunch from there. For the older children, I added glue sticks and scissors to the table. Whenever you are working with children scissors you need to make sure to watch them all because even though they are dull, they can still be dangerous. I also gave the children either the same sheet of paper as shown above or I mixed up the color based for each piece.
I broke the lesson up into two ways to create: The “littles” which is my older 2’s class and my 3’s, I already had pieces of assorted color paper cut out into different shapes. We went around and placed glue all over their paper, from there the children would take one piece at a time and place it on their paper, wherever they wanted. The lesson was to try to only take one at a time (fine motor skills) and figure out where to place it. It became almost like a puzzle and the end result made something very wonderful. They were done when all the glue was covered.
For my older children, Pre-K and Kindergarten we expanded on this lesson. They were given bigger strips of paper, scissors, and glue sticks and they created whatever they wanted. Some children were more skilled with scissors than others so it was very interesting to see what they decided to create. My Kindergarten class did a great job actually creating pictures out of their paper. Hearing their stories and what each cut piece was is a joy during the class. The older children get about 5 more minutes for art and the extra time was taken up by adding their own glue and cutting their own pieces. Here are some pictures of the children working and their final results:
At the end of the lesson, if there is extra time which when it comes to this age there always is, I gave them this color sheet to color:
This is a great art lesson for any age range. With all my art lessons this can be made to accommodate 1 child to 75+ children that I teach art to once a week. It’s all about gathering the materials. If you have any questions about this art lesson or would like to know anything more to create this at home please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org