Category Archives: Art Lessons

Art Lesson – Henri Matisse for Preschoolers

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:


Art Lesson:

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:

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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:

Art Lesson – Painting With Food!

I am going to try to focus on writing down my art lessons that I create with my wonderful pre-school students! All of my lessons are focused around creating awesome art experiences with children ages 2-6. I am a big advocate for expression art – where the child creates the art work regardless of “what it looks like.” I love some all look the same art crafts, but that’s just what they are – crafts. Children strive to create things just on their own terms which means every single art piece is different.

This particular lesson was a great success last year! In honor of Thanksgiving coming up and this preschool has what they call a “Green Grocer” come to school to teach about good food choices and they get to go shopping in their own little grocery store, it’s very cute, we are going to experience painting with different food items. I use carrots, celery, and potatoes.

Here’s what you need:

  • Any paper (that goes with paint colors) I have to have enough for over 75 kids each week! I decided to use a hard stock white.
  • Paint – orange, green, & brown
  • Old carrots, celery, and potatoes (cut in half long enough to use as paint brushes)
  • Containers to put paint in
  • Plastic sheets to cover tables
  • Covering for under the tables
  • Art shirts
  • Container with soap and water to wash hands, towels to dry
  • Separate container to put used vegetables – wash after each class

This of course can be done with 1 child or 100 just plan accordingly. Each food item is cut in half to give a nice base for them to paint with or use a stamp. I had to plan accordingly because I teach 6 different classes and my biggest is 18 so I needed to make sure I had 18 pieces of each food item. If you are doing this at home, it’s super easy just save old leftover veggies that you would normally just throw out. If you want to get real adventurous, peppers work great, cucumbers, broccoli, corn on the cob, etc. let you imagination go crazy!

Here is the instruction for each class:

Every time the students have art class, I ask them to sit on the floor next to the tables. I already have all the tables set up ready for the first task. This way all the students can get into the classroom and there isn’t a large rush to the tables. Plus this gives them a task that as the year goes on they will know what to do and sit down before the activity. I talk to them for a minute, explain what we are doing for the day, and give them certain rules as to how the class will go. During this time, like today, we also put on art shirts. Art shirts can be any old over large t-shirt you might have. They are always washed after each art day ready to go for the next time we paint. Here are this lessons instructions:

  1. We will focus on one color at a time with a couple different pieces of food.
  2. First, we will start with orange paint (carrots) and see how this will paint or stamp on their paper. Instruct the students (or child) to try to hold the carrot like you would a pencil or paintbrush. Dip the carrot into the orange paint like you would a paintbrush and either stamp or “brush” the carrot across your paper. This is fun because you can see if the carrot will make a certain shape or just a blob on the paper.
  3. Then we will work with green paint (celery). Do the same instruction as carrots. Because having so many students at one time doing the same task, we really work on our listening and patience skills. The kids did a great job dumping their used carrots into the bucket and waiting on me to pass out the paint and new painting instrument. Being pregnant and having major back pains, this was nice because it was a constant movement and set up, lol.
  4.  Then finally with brown paint (potatoes). Some of the kids really enjoyed this one. The potato acts like a stamp and put a large circle on their paper. Some, like my son, ended up swirling it all over the paper and causing the whole thing to turn brown, lol. But he enjoyed it the whole time so it didn’t matter how it turned out. Again with expression art, being able to see each student’s mind as they create their own individual art work is something that brings me great joy! I love my job!
  5. Why I decided to create each color/vegetable separately was because last year, I sort of did a rotation with the colors an if a child started out with brown paint there was really no hope for the other two colors. This way by separating the colors not only helped some of their papers but also helped not to  change the color in the paint dishes. I found myself having to wash out the orange dishes and filling it with new paint throughout the day, this way I only washed once! Even though I had to wash 24 containers 😦 LOL!

Here is some of the kids in action, they had so much fun!


I love this art activity because it not only gave the students a different experience painting with something that some probably have never tried, but also gives them another direction on painting their artwork. My main focus for art class is to expose the children that you just do not have to paint with paintbrushes, that you can explore all sorts of materials to paint with. I hope you enjoy the art lessons I provide and experience these same experiences with your own children!

Here is some pictures of their finished art work: