All over the world, children are home from school for as long as quarantine lasts. Since it is never too early to cultivate a (hopefully) lifelong love of art, this is a perfect time to introduce your children to art appreciation. Here are some ways to teach kids about art history and keep them entertained at the same time.
Lesson Plans and Activities
Cindy Ingram, aka the Art Class Curator, is an educator with an art history degree who has an entire website about teaching art history to students of all ages. She has tons of ideas, lesson plans, activity sheets, and more. Subscribers to her Curated Connections Library get to access all of them for a monthly or yearly fee, but you can also buy individual products like the “Art Appreciation Worksheet Bundle” ($12.00) or “The Four Steps of Art Criticism Lesson Plan” ($14.00).
Art History Kids is run by a California home school mom and seems aimed at a younger audience than the Art Class Curator. It features activities like “Easter Egg Color Theory” and “Pin the Nose on the Picasso”, many of which focus on modern art in particular. Art History Kids also offers many free materials in its weekly email newsletter. All you have to do is subscribe by entering your email address on the Free Fun page.
Art with Mati and Dada
What could be better than learning from cartoons? Art with Mati and Dada is an adorable little animated video series starring a young artist and her Humpty-Dumpty-like friend. They travel through time to meet famous artists. Videos are short (less than ten minutes each) and full of childlike energy, but they’re also very educational. Each one focuses on a particular artist, clearly and engagingly highlighting a few important points about that artist’s work. Honestly, art history for grown-ups should aim to be this entertaining, since I actually had a really nice time watching these videos. Art with Mati and Dada currently has fifty episodes.
Museum Website Content
Most art museums create tons of online resources for children, like art projects and lesson plans. For example, the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. offers children’s video tours dedicated to individual works of art as well as an iPad app. The Tate has a special twitter account and YouTube channel for children, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art has an interactive #metkids website. Visit your favorite museum online and look for tabs that mention “education” or “families” to find these goodies.
DK Art Books
I love books, and I believe that you can almost never go wrong with DK (Dorling Kindersley) books. DK books are informative, well-written, and easy to learn from. To teach kids about art history, DK offers the Children’s Book of Art, featuring artworks from prehistoric to contemporary, and My Art Book, which is full of art projects inspired by world art history. Both look excellent! Older children might appreciate the many grown-up DK art books, which are more sophisticated but very accessible. Just check that the subject matter is age-appropriate. When I was a preteen and teen, my two favorite art books were DK’s Sister Wendy’s Story of Painting by Sister Wendy Beckett and The Story of Architecture by Jonathan Glancey. DK books are available on Amazon.com.
Coloring pages are lots of fun for kids (and often for adults, too)! Museums and libraries around the world have created printable coloring pages based on artworks in their collections. In addition to being an all-around great activity, coloring requires paying close attention to the details of the artworks. Find links to many fine art coloring pages here.