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!
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!
I spy in the sky!
- Kite Flying by Grace Lin
- Days with Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel
- How the Queen Found the Perfect Cup of Tea by Kate Hosford
- A Kite for Moon by Jane Yolen
- Are you My Mother by P.D. Eastman
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:
Let’s go fly a kite! : Design your kites below, or try to make a real kite of your own to fly!
- Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett
- Roy Digs Dirt by David Shannon
- Thunder Underground (Collection of Poems) by Jane Yolen
- Carl and the Meaning of Life by Deborah Freedman
- A Dark, Dark Cave by Eric Hoffman
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.
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.
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.
Make your own silver pendants. Tell a story about where you found it and why it is special!
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?
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:
Compare the two stories. Try writing your own version of “The Little Red Hen” using a different setting, characters, and “project”.
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:
Here are some coloring pages inspired by the sea and Hokusai:
- This is Not my Hat by Jon Klassen
- Seagull and Sea Dragon by Sydni Gregg
- Swimmy by Leo Lionni
- Run Sea Turtle, Run: A Hatchling Story by Stephan Swinburne
- Swashby and the Sea by Beth Ferry
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:
Lost and Found
- Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
- Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems
- Beach Tail by Karen Lynn Williams
- Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers
- Corduroy Lost and Found by Don Freeman
Lost it, Found it by Mandy Coe
Art: The Art Institute of Chicago has some great resources that accompany this work by René Magritte.
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!
- Penguin Problems by Jory John
- Wolf in the Snow by Matthew Cordell
- Brave Irene by William Steig
- The Hat by Jan Brett
- 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.