Art Inspiration

Looking for ways to make art and creativity more a part of your daily schedule at home or in the classroom? Check out this book called The Art Box by Gail Gibbons. It is a nonfiction book that explains common art materials, colors and more.

My daughters love to do art at home, at the local children’s museum and at play group. This book has inspired us to think about what other materials and projects we can do together!

Best Ages: pre-k – 1st grade

For Parents:

  • Put together an art box, if you don’t already have one at home. We’ve used old shoeboxes as ours, but you could buy fun and more fancy baskets or containers! To get more bang for your buck, check out your local dollar store or print coupons to use at national craft chain stores such as Jo Ann Fabrics or Hobby Lobby.
  • Talk about the art materials you are using as you and your child sit down to do some art together.
  • For inspiration, take a look at my favorite art blog hosted by an elementary school art teacher. Search by age, media or theme!

For Teachers:

  • Invite your art teacher into your classroom. Read the book aloud to your students together, then allow them to rotate through stations that explore different art materials as described in the book.
  • Ask students to share their experiences working with different types of media. Take a vote on which station was their favorite.
  • Use one of these free graphic organizers to integrate art with one of your core content areas. For younger students, complete a a class.
  • Choose one idea from this art teacher for reinforcing the color wheel as introduced in the book and try it out with your class!

5 Concept Board Books

Looking for some fresh books to help your baby or toddler learn concepts? Here are 5 that our family recommends:

  • Follow the Yarn by Emily Sper (Teaches COLORS)

One of the most unique color books I’ve seen. A cat plays with yarn and the colorful lines of string build up on each page. My preschooler even loved this one because she enjoyed tracing the strands of brightly colored string back to its original ball of yarn.

  • We Love Each Other by Yusuke Yonzu (Teaches SHAPES)

A one-of-a-kind book to introduce and reinforce shape learning. Two animals are creatively positioned to form each shape, and the book has cut-outs that young children will enjoy feeling and tracing.

  • Monkey World ABC by Matthew Porter (Teaches JOBS)

Can you think of a career that starts with each letter of the alphabet? While admittedly not my preferred style of illustrations, this book has a fun array of professions displayed… literally from A to Z. Both my daughters both enjoy reading this one!

  • 1 2 3 Beep Beep Beep! A Counting Book by Brian Biggs (Teaches NUMBERS)

Bright and slightly off-beat illustrations make this book really fun. My daughters liked counting the vehicles on each page and sharing which was their favorite. The final page provides a cute ending.

  • I Love You, Papa, In All Kinds of Weather! by Nancy White Carlstrom (Teaches DAYS)

I picked this up expecting it to provide basic weather learning and found that it does a better job of clearly emphasizing days of the week. From Monday to Sunday, Jesse Bear describes the activities he does given the weather. Very sweet!

Best Ages: 0-3 years


Art and Storytelling

Does the name Don Freeman sound familiar? If you saw his signature on the cover of a book, like I did when my daughter handed me the small book The Chalk Box Story, you might immediately connect his name to the cover of the famous children’s book Corduroy. He is, indeed, the author/illustrator of both those books and many more.

The Chalk Box Story is interesting because the colors of a chalk box are personified and decide to work together to make a picture. But when the picture doesn’t turn out the way they expect it to, the colors all wonder if a happy ending is still possible.

My preschooler has “read” this book aloud to herself over and over again. She loves the fact that the colors talk and the picture evolves a bit more with each crayon’s addition. She also really enjoys the ending, but I will leave that for you to discover for yourself when you read The Chalk Box Story.

Best Ages: pre-k – 1st grade

For Parents:

  • Check out the interactive storybook version of The Chalk Box Story available through iTunes.
  • Ask your child: Did you expect the story to end the way it did? How would you choose to end the story?

For Teachers:

  • Prior to reading The Chalk Box Story, give students time to draw pictures of their own on blank white paper. When everyone is finished, hold up large pieces of construction paper of the following colors: red, green, yellow, purple, brown, white, blue and black. One color at a time, ask students if they used that given color in their picture. What did they use it for? (Example: blue for water, an umbrella, shoes/brown for a tree trunk, a house, someone’s hair.)
  • Compare what your students used each color to create with that which the colors in the book chose to draw.
  • Place large butcher-block paper down on tables. Set out coloring supplies for students to create a picture with their peers. Display the group artwork!