One of the highlights of the kindergarten year here at CHMS is studying some of the great artists of the world. The children truly love learning about art history and artists throughout the year. We have an entire hallway dedicated to their masterpieces, take a field trip to the National Gallery of Art to see the paintings first hand, and at the end of the year the children host a Kindergarten Art Show for parents to view their children’s accomplishments. It’s during the Art Show that parents realize just how much time and effort their children put into their art work…
We use a series of books called Getting to Know the Worlds Greatest Artists by Mike Venezia. Each book is about an individual artist, with details of their lives, pictures of his or her most famous works, and a few cartoons sprinkled throughout to add a little kid-humor. The children love these stories and learn so much about the artists in a fun way. We supplement these stories with others we have discovered over the years like The First Drawing by Mordicai Gerstein about the first artists, The King of Color about Henri Matisse, Suzette and the Puppy about Mary Cassatt, and Picasso and the Girl with the Ponytail. We also share with the children a portfolio of post cards of the artists’ work to further tell the story of the artists.
We begin the year learning about the first artists, cave painters, and functional art, anything that serves a purpose and has been decorated, such as vases or bowls. We experiment with cave art by drawing animals “on the walls” and functional art by decorating tiles and frames. We then begin our study of the lives and works of famous artists – some of whom are Johannes Vermeer (Golden Age), Claude Monet and Mary Cassatt (Impressionism), Vincent Van Gogh (Post-Impressionism), and Pablo Picasso (Cubism). We spend a month on each artist learning about their style of art and what makes them unique. We usually have three or four art projects where we try our hand at the artist’s unique style. The children gain a true appreciation for art throughout their kindergarten year, and we have as much fun with the studies as they do.
Wrapping up the year, our field trip to The National Gallery of Art brings the artists alive. The children recognize and know the stories about many of the pieces that they see. We plan activities around pieces that are currently on display and learn more about these paintings during our time there. Monet is a regular favorite and seeing “The Japanese Footbridge” is always a highlight for the children. It is such a joy watching them so engaged and learning to love the world of art.