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Pre-K Activities

Use the following artworks and activities to inspire creativity in your students.

Lyonel Feininger, The Bicycle Race, 19121912 Lyonel Feininger, The Bicycle Race, 1912, oil on canvas, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, 1985.64.17

Stamp Patterns

Materials: foam blocks; paint; scissors

Time: 30 minutes

Look at the way repeated shapes and lines create patterns in these two artworks. Cut simple shapes into one-inch foam blocks, making stamps. Then have students dip their foam stamps into paint to create decorative, rhythmic patterns. 

See inspiration and sample artworks:

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Kay Sage, A Finger on the Drum, 19401940 Kay Sage, A Finger on the Drum, 1940, oil on canvas, Corcoran Collection (Gift of the estate of the artist), 2014.136.92

Imagined Scenes

Materials: paper; crayons or colored pencils; coloring templates

Time: 20 minutes

Have students select an ordinary object from their classroom to draw or trace onto templates of surrealist landscapes. Then have them color the scene in and describe their chosen scene. Alternatively, the students could imagine their own fantastical settings, such as outer space, a far-away kingdom, or an island beach, in which they can include their classroom objects. Download coloring templates: Magritte's La Condition Humaine; Tanguy's The Look of Amber; Sage's A Finger on the Drum.

See inspiration and sample artworks:

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Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Marcelle Lender Dancing the Bolero in Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Marcelle Lender Dancing the Bolero in "Chilpéric", 1895-1896, oil on canvas, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. John Hay Whitney, 1990.127.1

Pretend Play

Materials: none

Time: 15 minutes

Using these images, have students pretend to be the figures in the paintings. What would they say if they could talk?

See inspiration artworks:

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Jean Dubuffet, Façades d'immeubles (Building Façades), 19461946 Jean Dubuffet, Façades d'immeubles (Building Façades), 1946, oil on canvas, Gift of the Stephen Hahn Family Collection, 1995.30.3

Scratch City

Materials: black construction paper; oil pastels; paper clips or small rulers

Time: 20 minutes

Inspired by the cityscapes of Jean Dubuffet, have students create their own scratch art. Have students choose two to three oil pastel colors to cover their black paper with. To cut shapes and buildings into the layers of pastel, students can use a paper clip or the corner of a small ruler. Students will scratch away pastel to create the buildings, streets, and cars for their cityscapes.

See sample artworks:

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Odilon Redon, Large Vase with Flowers, c. 1912c. 1912 Odilon Redon, Large Vase with Flowers, c. 1912, oil on canvas, Gift of the Honorable John C. Whitehead, in Honor of the 50th Anniversary of the National Gallery of Art, 1990.64.1

Tissue Paper Flowers

Materials: tissue paper; vase templates; glue sticks

Time: 20 minutes

Using paper, make your own flower arrangement. On the template of Redon's Large Vase with Flowers, have students glue crumpled pieces of tissue paper on the flower outlines. Students can color in or use patterned paper for the vase itself. 

See sample artworks:

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Arshile Gorky, Organization, 1933-19361933-1936 Arshile Gorky, Organization, 1933-1936, oil on canvas, Ailsa Mellon Bruce Fund, 1979.13.3

Shape Box

Materials: construction paper; glue sticks; box; scissors

Time: 20 minutes

Make a game of composing abstract compositions. Fill a box with varied geometric shapes cut from brightly colored construction paper. With eyes closed, have each student pick five shapes from the box to glue onto a piece of paper. Students can experiment with a few different arrangements before deciding on one to glue down.

See sample artworks:

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Henri Matisse, Open Window, Collioure, 19051905 Henri Matisse, Open Window, Collioure, 1905, oil on canvas, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. John Hay Whitney, 1998.74.7

Tissue Paper Window Scene

Materials: precut tissue paper squares; glue sticks; sheet protectors

Time: 30 minutes

Using precut squares of multicolored tissue paper, try constructing a window scene, changing colors to reflect how you feel about what you see. Have students use the template of Matisse's Open Window, Collioure and glue different pieces of tissue paper on the various parts of the scene. When done, have students put their papers inside a sheet protector to complete the "window" look. 

See sample artworks:

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John Constable, The White Horse, 1818-18191818-1819 John Constable, The White Horse, 1818-1819, oil on canvas, Widener Collection, 1942.9.9

Viewfinder

Materials: cardboard tubes; paper; coloring supplies

Time: 15 minutes

Have students use cardboard tubes as viewfinders to explore their world more closely. Select any scene (maybe an outdoor scene such as the one depicted above) and focus on a detail of an object, a face, or a setting through the viewfinder to be the subject of a drawing. 

Download

Redon's Large Vase of Flowers coloring template

Matisse's Open Window, Collioure coloring template

Sage's The Finger on the Drum coloring template

Tanguy's A Look of Amber coloring template

Magritte's La Condition Humaine coloring template

Submit Student Work

Send images of your students' projects that follow these activities - email [email protected]

Teacher Workshops

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