Family Changes

Possible Classroom Concepts: Language Arts/ Social Studies – Families- How Families Change


Possible Art Concepts: Art History – Jean-Francois Millet, Vincent Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso

Drawing, Painting

One of the stories that the kindergartners study is Peter’s Chair by Ezra Keats. This story investigates changes in a family.

Van Gogh's First Steps, jpg

Today we will look at a milestone that will change a family, Baby’s First Step. Compare Millet’s and Van Gogh’s interpretations of first step here:

Now look at Picasso’s version here:

How are they the same? How are they different?

Find a possible Common Core lesson in Unit 2: Tell a Story, 1,2,3 found here:

Who makes up a family?

In the last few posts, we have been looking at families and some of the ways artists depict them. We’ve looked at the mother and child theme, also family activities. In this post, we will look at who makes up a family.

Possible Classroom Concepts: Social Studies – Family, Who makes up a family?

Possible Art Concepts: Art History – William H. Johnson

Portraits ( Single and Group)


African American artist, William H. Johnson, explored the family dynamic in many of his paintings. He painted his parents, siblings and a folk family. They may be found here: 

“Family Portrait” can be found here:

Find “Young Mother” here:

Go to these two sites to find out more about William H. Johnson’s family paintings and ways you can use them in class:


There is also a picture book written about Johnson entitled, Lil Sis and Uncle Willie, by Gwen Everett. The cool thing about this book is that it is illustrated with William H. Johnson’s paintings.

Family Celebrations!

Possible Classroom Concepts: Social Studies – Families – What They Do Together, How They Are Different, Egyptian History, WW II History

Language Arts – Storytelling

Science – Animals

Possible Art Concepts: Art History – Norman Rockwell, Egyptian Art, Carmen Lomas Garza, Jan Steen, Tom Miller, Faith Ringgold

Portraits, Illustration, Story Quilts

In my Mother’s Day post, I showed Mary Cassatt’s vision of some activities mothers do with their children. In this post, we will look at some other artist’s view of things families do together.

As we honor those who gave their lives for our country this weekend, a lot of families will take advantage of this three day weekend for a family trip. Check out Norman Rockwell’s thoughts on a family outing in the painting, “Going and Coming”, here: and here:

Have a look at this family outing from long ago:

Families often celebrate a special occasion with some sort of meal. Here are some different interpretations:

Norman Rockwell”s “Freedom From Want” (probably the most famous painting of a Thanksgiving dinner) can be found here:

                       Look here for Mexican American artist, Carmen Lomas Garza’s “Tamalada”

Jan Steen's The Dancing Couple

Jan Steen’s “The Dancing Couple” shows not only a couple but also families celebrating in this lively painting found here: and here

I’m from Maryland so the next painting has meaning for all of us who live around the Chesapeake Bay. Celebrations in Maryland often incorporate a crab feast. Tom Miller’s “Maryland Crab Feast” isn’t advertised as a family affair, but do you see the baby? If this were a family crab feast who would be the mother? The father? To see Miller’s crab feast look here:

When my family gets together for holidays, we often play games. Henri Matisse created two paintings of families playing board games. “The Family of the Artist” can be found here:  “Pianist and Checker Players” is here: Did you see The Monuments Men movie? This painting was one of the saved paintings. Read about it here:

Horace Pippin’s “Domino Players” is another example of a family playing a game together and can be found here:

Here is a GREAT project for students to share their special family meal or game. African American artist, Faith Ringgold’s “Tar Beach”, is another good example of a family get together. Find the lesson here: and Tar Beach here and here:

Related Books:

Norman Rockwell’s Americana  ABC by George Mendoza

In My Family/ En Mi Familia by Carmen Lomas Garza

Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold

Enjoy your Memorial Day!

Mother and Child

Possible Classroom Concepts: Social Studies – Families, Women’s Rights

Possible Art Concepts: Art History – Mary Cassatt

Portraits, Drawing (Pastels), Human Figure, Depicting Emotion

With Mother’s Day approaching, I can’t help but think of the mother child relationship and how it is depicted in art. Family and the things they do together are common concepts taught in the primary grades.  Early depictions of mother and child were religious in nature. Very few artists painted the everyday mother and child until the Impressionists came along. The American Impressionist artist, Mary Cassatt, painted a lot of mother and child images. Lets face it, she was a single woman in the late 19th century. She wasn’t visiting the Moulin Rouge every night and hanging out with her fellow painters. Women were held to a different standard. She painted what she knew: family, friends and the opera.

Some Cassatt Mother and Child Paintings:

 “Emmie and Her Child”


“Breakfast in Bed”


“Mere et L’enfant” (Translation: “Mother and Child”)

Cassatt paintings of family doing things together:


“The Bath”

Cassatt's The Crochet Lesson

“The Crochet Lesson”


“The Banjo Lesson”

“Young Mother Sewing”


“The Boating Party”

Learn more about Mary Cassatt and this painting at NGA ’s An Eye For Art:

In my last post, I talked about four sources of quick ways to integrate your lessons. Here are two more great sites:

Picturing America:

NGA’s Art Babble:

A Cassatt related project for kids can be found here:

Happy Mother’s Day!

Bring May Flowers

In my “April Showers” post, I mentioned one way to integrate art is identifying classroom concepts in art reproductions. Another is using lesson plans and guides provided by blogs and art museums. They often give a short description of an artwork, provide questions, suggest ways to integrate and sometimes provide interactive games. Short and sweet, these are a perfect resource for a busy classroom teacher. Today, using a flower (not necessarily a May flower) theme, I’ll share four of my favorite sites.


I’ll begin with Art History Mom, Kristen Nelson. She is by far my favorite art history blogger. Check out her Van Gogh Sunflower post:   In an interesting way, she incorporates art and world history, geography, science and social studies. She includes questions for varying age groups and even provides flash cards. As I read her blog for the first time last year, so many ways of integrating kept popping into my head. I’m sad to say she hasn’t posted anything since last July. I hope she hasn’t quit. Kristen, come back. We miss you! Here are some of the ways you can integrate from her post:

Possible Classroom Concepts: Social Studies – History, Geography, Friendship, Manufacturing

Science – Stages of a Flower

Language Arts –  Color (Yellow)

Possible Art Concepts: Art History – Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Gauguin

Color, Symbolism, Paint Pigment

Art History Mom also provides a Van Gogh art activity post here:

The second place I like for arts integration is Art-to-Go from the Baltimore Museum of Art. Each month they highlight a particular piece of art.  There is a page with a short description of the artwork and possible integration ideas. On a second page is a large reproduction for you to use in your classroom. Find Georgia O’Keefe’s Pink Tulips here:  I found the the two videos on tulips very interesting. Who knew the little ole tulip could cause Dutch Tulip Mania and an investment bubble?

It just so happens that my third favorite site, The National Gallery of Art’s  An Eye For Artalso has an article about Georgia O’Keefe. You can find it here:

Possible Classroom Concepts: Science – Flower Parts

Social Studies – Natural Resources, Economics

Possible Art Concepts: Art History – Georgia O’Keefe

Exageration, Drawing, Painting

The fourth great resource is from Concordia University Chicago. Debra Herman provides ten artist articles for each grade level, one through eight. The format includes an artist biography, art work description, directed observation and things to do. I have chosen to share with you the post about Maria Sibylla Merian, naturalist and illustrator. She wrote and illustrated a book about Spring flowers but is most famous for discovering and sharing the life cycles of many moths and butterflies. So you get more bang for your buck with this artist, she’s both a naturalist and entomologist.


“Spring Flowers in a Chinese Vase”

The Concordia University Chicago article can be found here:

Possible Classroom Concepts: Science – Flowers, Insect Life Cycle, Scientific Drawing

Possible Art Concepts: Art History -Maria Sibylla Merian

Art Careers (Scientific Illustration), Drawing, Painting, Color (Tints and Shades), Symmetry

You can find another short synopsis about Merian and electronic puzzles here:

Great examples of the artist’s work can be found here:

Here is a GREAT lesson combining O’Keefe’s and Merian’s work:

If you like these four examples, be sure to check out other articles and posts they offer.

See you soon!