Stories and Art

Let’s go on an art adventure!

Story is by far the best way that my family and I have connected with works of art over the years. Some pieces tell stories based on a historical event or a myth and others are great for creating our own stories. Below are some examples of how we have taken famous (and not so famous) works of art, and turned them into stories of our own. Why not try it with your family? Print out inspiring artwork or visit the gallery and create a story with your children!

The Magpie

We used Claude Monet’s “The Magpie” to create a story called “Magpie and the Magic Marble”:  

– Using the painting, have children make observations about what they see: colors, light, weather, buildings, the magpie, etc.

– Draw the child’s attention to the marble in the snow, glistening in the sunlight (this will take a bit of imagination since it’s not actually there 😆).

– Begin to craft a story by brainstorming what kind of magical power the marble has: Wishes? Invisibility? Strength?

– What happens to the magpie? What problems arise? How are they solved? 

– Children can illustrate their stories in a “zine”. 

– Add the book to your bookshelf and read often! 

Click HERE for a printable pdf zine template.

Visit WikiArt to view, download and/or print a copy of “The Magpie”


The Goldfinch by Carel Fabritius

Landscape with Peacocks by Paul Gauguin

The Kingfisher, Vincent Van Gogh

The kids helped me tell a story about a Goldfinch that was trapped and chained by his ankle. He had to depend on his friends, Kingfisher and Peacock to help set him free.

Inspired by Mo Willem’s Pigeon Series

Inspired by Rene Magritte’s The Sky Bird

Inspired by Adam Rubin’s Those Darn Squirrels.

Some books that inspired our artwork:

Who is in the Egg by Alexandra Milton

I Spy in the Sky by Edward Gibbs

Birds Build a Nest by Martin Jenkins

The Dawn Chorus by Suzanne Barton

The Pigeon Series by Mo Willems and other related activities can be found HERE.

Those Darn Squirrels by Adam Rubin

I am the Tree by Fiona Waters

Aesop’s Fables Illustrated by Ayano Imai


We used Henri Rousseau’s Surprised as our inspiration for a story about a haughty tiger who learned an important lesson.

Click HERE to access the story guide I created so that you and your children can create a story together!

Henri Rousseau Surprised! 1891 Oil on canvas, 129.8 x 161.9 cm Bought, with the aid of a substantial donation from the Hon. Walter H. Annenberg, 1972 NG6421

I spy in the sky!

Laura Petrisin, Chinese Lanterns

Related Books:

Poem: Kites by Daphne Lister

Interactive Story: The kids helped tell the story of Jian and his Lantern. Use the pictures below to create your story:

Why is Jian sad?
Jian wishes that he could live up to his name, Jian (man of strength).
Laura Petrisin, Chinese Lanterns
What was the special paper for?
Where does Jian find the lantern?

Let’s go fly a kite! : Design your kites below, or try to make a real kite of your own to fly!

Write a poem about an adventure in a hot air balloon.
Retell the story of Chicken Licken and her friends.

Underground Adventures

Related Books:

This week we took our adventures underground! Print out these pages to color, cut, and paste. Then create your own story. Who are your characters? Where are they? What did they find when they were digging? What did they do with it? Was it ordinary or magical?

We used the following paintings to inspire our stories! You can fold up a paper using the instructions below to write and illustrate your story.

Jean-Francois Millet, The Gleaners, 1857
Camille Pissarro, The Harvest of Hay in Eragny, 1887
Vincent Van Gogh, Two Peasant Women Digging on Snow Covered Fields, 1890

Our Story:

Once upon a time, a boy named Ethan was working with his family in the wheatfields. They were a poor family and each day they worked very hard to earn enough for one meal at the end of the day. One day, Ethan’s scythe struck something hard in the ground. He dug it up and discovered that it was a mirror. When he looked into the mirror, he did not see his own reflection, but saw a beautiful fairy. The fairy said that she would grant Ethan one, and only one wish. Thinking that it would solve all of his family’s problems, Ethan wished for lots of money. In no time, a huge sack of gold lay at his feet. Other workers began to notice that Ethan had stopped working, and they came over to see what was going on. When they noticed the giant bag of gold coins, they accused Ethan of stealing the money. “No I didn’t steal anything! It was the mirror! A fairy!” Cried Ethan. He showed the workers the mirror, but all that they saw was their own reflection.

Pieter Bruegel the Elder, The Harvesters, 1565

A mudlark is someone who searches along the foreshore of the Thames during low tide, trying to find bits to collect, use, or sell. Here is our story we created about a Mudlark named Yusra:

There once was a mudlark named Yusra. Everyday she would come to the Thames when the tide was low and try to find bits that she could use or sell. One day, she could not believe her eyes when a beautiful diamond necklace appeared through the muck. Being an honest girl, Yusra knew that this necklace was too special to keep to herself. She would try to find out who it belonged to. She walked to the British Museum and handed the necklace over to some experts. “Well done!” they said. “This necklace belongs to Queen Victoria! It slipped off her neck while she was boating down the Thames yesterday afternoon and she thought it was lost forever!” They asked if Yusra wanted to deliver the necklace in person, which, of course, she did. Queen Victoria could not have been happier and, as a reward, she offered to adopt Yusra into her family. Yusra lived out her days at Buckingham Palace, but still found time to wander down to the Thames to search for treasures.

Chris Orr, Albert and the Mudlarks, 2019

Make your own silver pendants. Tell a story about where you found it and why it is special!

Grab some yarn, glue, scissors and cardboard cut into shapes. Glue the yarn in different patterns. Let dry overnight.
Cover the pendant with tin foil, pressing it over the yarn, and then color with sharpie.

Animal Adventures

What if an animal was to get stuck at the top of one of these buildings?! Feel free to print out these images (and more), find them on a map or globe, paint them using a cotton bud (like our featured artist, Georges Seurat), and then use them as a springboard for your own original story!

We will be using Georges Seurat’s Eiffel Tower to inspire our interactive story. Look closely. How you do you think Seurat painted these paintings?

George Seurat’s Eiffel Tower, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, US
Georges Seurat Bathers at Asnières 1884 Oil on canvas,
The National Gallery, UK
Georges Seurat, A Sunday on La Grande Jatte — 1884
Art Institute of Chicago

Our Interactive Story: Gina the Giraffe Goes to Paris– I’ve had so much fun creating these stories with you! Print out the booklet, then fold it up according to these directions:

Related Books:

Compare the two stories.  Try writing your own version of “The Little Red Hen” using a different setting, characters, and “project”. 


The Red Fox

The Little Turtle

The Crocodile

Adventures at Sea

We used Katsushika Hokusai’s The Great Wave off Kanagawa as our inspiration for our interactive story. Download and make your book here:

Our collection is growing!

Here are some coloring pages inspired by the sea and Hokusai:

Related Books:

Poems we shared: Today’s poems were found in one of our favorite anthologies called, I am the Seed that Grew the Tree. Currently it’s available on Amazon for £17.49.

Here’s a peek into the process of how Hokusai made his prints:

Here’s how we made our own prints:

Carve the design into the styrofoam with the back of a small paintbrush.
Carefully peel the paper off the block.
Paint a light layer of paint over your “block”.
Make as many copies as you’d like using various colors!
Carefully lay a piece of paper over your block and rub the paint in.
Camille’s (5 years old) painting of The Great Wave

Lost and Found

Related Books:


Lost it, Found it by Mandy Coe

Art: The Art Institute of Chicago has some great resources that accompany this work by René Magritte.

Time Transfixed
1938, René Magritte, Belgian, 1898–1967
(Art Institute of Chicago)

René Magritte often painted in a surrealist style. Visit Tate Kids to find out more about this type of art. Then try to create your own surrealist scene by cutting out images from magazines!

Print this blank map out and have your children create a scene. They can use this map as the springboard for an adventure story!

Today we created our own story incorporating René Magritte’s Time Transfixed called, Lost and Found. Use the directions below to create your book. Children can add their own pictures of the “clock” and “mum’s gifts” on the pages that are missing illustrations. Enjoy!

Waterman’s Theatre has commissioned some fabulous productions of Greek Myths and Adventures! Parents, be sure to preview the shows to make sure they are age-appropriate for your children.

Adventures with Shakespeare: Find out in this recent talk between Sarah MacKenzie (Read Aloud Revival) and Ken Ludwig, about how to share Shakespearean adventures with your children!

Snowy Adventures

Related Books:


  • January by John Foster

Free Story Puppets PDF: Create your own stories by using these characters!

This week we created a story together called, Fiona Catches the Snow! Follow the directions to create your own “book” and add the illustrations.

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