Archive for the 'art' Category

Teaching Economics with Children’s Literature: Market Day


Introduction and Summary
Market Day, written and designed by Lois Ehlert, tells the story of a family preparing to take goods they have made and grown to the Market. The story starts off with a child going around to do their daily chores which include feeding the chickens corn, pulling up carrots, packing tomatoes, feeding the rooster, turkey, and goose and loading up the truck. The child reminds us, “Lock the gate tight so they [the animals] won’t get loose.”   The story uses very pretty folk art for the illustrations. The child goes on to say that the reason they go to the market is “to buy and to sell…” The artwork is amazing in this story!

Curriculum Connections
This book shows how people have to work to make money. In this book, the whole family helps with planting, growing, and harvesting food as well as making goods to sell at the market for profit. This family sells foods and goods, to make a living in order to buy items for themselves (VA Social Studies SOL 1.7).  This book also shows a great deal of artwork, and could be used to help inspire students to make their own artwork about jobs that people have and how and where they work.

Additional Resources
1. Market Day/Spanish Lesson Plan– This lesson plan has a great idea for doing your own Market Day in the classroom. Students will buy and sell goods (fruits, vegetables, and other food items) to each other. While they are doing this, they are also learning the Spanish name for each item and learning about the Open Air Markets that Latin America has.  Great use for buying and selling goods, multiculturialism, and learning about Latin America. This lesson plan has a heavy focus on incorporating Spanish, but it does use the book in the lesson plan.
2.Consumer and Producer Lesson Plan– The lesson plan provides activities for teaching about consumers and producers. It is very short and simple, but using the book Market Day in the lesson plan to explain and tie in the vocabulary words of “consumer” and “producer” would be beneficial.
3.  Farmer’s Market Coloring Page– This site provides several coloring sheets available about Farmer’s Markets. It even includes a sentence on each coloring page that simply explains why we have Farmer’s Markets, and what they sell there (fruits, vegetables, other food items). This is a great idea to encourage young students to go to Farmer’s Markets!

General Information
Market Day
Author: Lois Ehlert
Illustrator: Designed by Lois Ehlert
Publisher: Voyager Books, Harcourt, Inc.
Publication Date:2000
Pages: 36
Grade Range: K-2nd
ISBN: 978-0-15-2168209

Teaching Ancient Civilizations with Children’s Literature: Mummies, Pyramids, and Pharaohs: A Book about Ancient Egypt


Mummies, Pyramids, and Pharaohs: A Book about Ancient Egypt was written by Gail Gibbons and illustrated by Saho Fujii.   “One of the world’s oldest continuous civilizations began about five thousand years ago, in the land of Egypt.”  The book gives an great overview of how and where ancient Egyptian’s lived, what jobs they held, how they celebrated different occasions, what their houses looked like, their medical & magic healing powers.  Communication and story telling through picture writing, known as hieroglyphs, was a very important part of ancient Egyptians life.  “People called scribes spent up to ten years to learn the hundreds of hieroglyph symbols.”  Ancient Egyptians were ruled by kings, known as pharaohs.  Pharaohs were burried in pyramids along with their family and slaves.   Today people can go and visit pyramids as well as museums around the world and view some of the ancient Egyptian art from that era.

Curriculum Connections

This would be a great book to start off or use to support a lesson on ancient Egypt.  The illustration in the book is great and can be used as a quick reference for life during ancient Egypt.  The photos can be used for early readers.  The life style, architecture and location are described in detail for early learners (SOL 2.1 and 2.4a).

Additional Resources

Book: Mummies, Pyramids, and Pharaohs: A Book about Ancient Egypt
Author: Gail Gibbons
Illustrator: Saho Fujii
Publisher: Little Brown and Company
Publication Date: 2004
Pages: 30
Grade Range: 2-5
ISBN: 0316309281






Teaching Process Skills with Children’s Literature: Big and Small, Room for All


Big and Small, Room for All, written by Jo Ellen Bogart, is a wonderfully illustrated new book that introduces young children to the concept of size and how they fit in the world. Using simple language and eye-catching watercolor paintings, this book successfully explains to children their place on earth. Each page illustrates in picture and words, the size difference of two objects.   The text “Big Mountain, Small tree” is surrounded by a beautiful scene of mountains with trees much smaller in size. The next page states “Big tree, Small man” with a man looking up at the enormous trees.  This constant connection to the next page grabs the attention of readers, eager to see what the next comparison will be.

The illustrations in this book are actual watercolor paintings by artist Gillian Newland and they really make this book. My 5 year old was intrigued by the huge detailed picture of a flea on the page “Big flea, big flea, What is smaller than a flea?”  The painting of the solar system left her with the desire to learn the names of the planets depicted in the book.

Whereas this book’s language and reading level are that of a Kindergartener, I believe that older children will enjoy the book, too. One of the last pages of the book reads, “What is smaller than a flea? A world of things too small to see.” The picture of microorganisms will make older children excited to learn about all the things that we can’t see. This is a really fun and unique book that could open the door to numerous discussions. 

I really like how children of various ages will be drawn to different aspects of Big and Small, Room for All. I think it is a great book to introduce the concept of size and sorting to Kindergarteners (VA SOL K.1d).  The short phrases make this book a good one for beginning readers. Teachers could also use this book to differentiate between big and small for Kindergarten (VA SOL K.1e).  Thanks to the beautiful watercolor paintings, this book also describes objects as big or small in both words and pictures (VA SOL K.1c). 

Additional Resources:

  • Scholastic offers many activities for teachers to use in their classroom.  One worksheet on their website has students measure the penguins on the page and put them in order from shortest to tallest. This reiterates the concept of sequencing by size for kindergarteners.
  • For a change of pace, describes a game that challenges students to name objects that are either bigger or smaller than the aforementioned item. This activity will really force the students to think of objects relative to others, just as Big and Small, Room for All does.  
  • In another activity, a teacher could discuss some of the items that were mentioned in the book: sun, mountain, tree, man, kitten, mouse.  The students could then cut out pictures of these items from handouts, color them, and then paste them on construction paper according to their size.
  • This website has a great activity for students to show their knowledge of big, bigger, biggest.

Book: Big and Small, Room for All
Author: Jo Ellen Bogart
Illustrator: Gillian Newland
Publisher: Tundra Books; Har/Pstr edition
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 32
Grade Range: Pre-K to 2nd grade
ISBN: 087768911

Nonfiction Monday – Getting to Know Artists

matisse.jpg rousseau.jpg

Hello Matisse!: Get to Know Matisse Through Stories, Games and Draw-It-Yourself Fun and Hello Rousseau!: Get to Know Rousseau Through Stories, Games and Draw-It-Yourself Fun both by Catherine de Duve, are engaging translations from the French that offer young readers and budding artists an “inside” look at these men and their works.

Hello Matisse! begins with an introduction to Matisse’s early life and his introduction to art at the age of 21. Home sick in bed for many weeks, his mother provided him with a paint set to make the time go by. This event changed his life. Once he recovered he left his office job and went to art school in Paris. His first painting was a still life that he signed with his name spelled backwards. Nearly 60 years later, he was still painting. The double-page spread entitled Matisse Finds Art shows both of these works. Where de Duve’s books differ from other “art history” type books is in the interactive component that is included in this spread. There is  a blank box with directions above that read:

Arrange some objects in a pattern you like and sketch a still life. Sign it with your own unique artist’s signature.

As the book follows Matisse through his life, de Duve highlights aspects of his style and work. All this is accompanied by directives to readers to create art in the fashion of the artist. Some of the interactive components of this book include:

  • Artists use colors to express emotion. Color this butterfly with colors that make you happy.
  • Create a face with different colors in the style of the Fauves.
  • Look out the window and paint or draw what you see, using simple shapes and playful colors.

In some instances, readers are not asked to draw by rather to search for specific details in a painting.  One of my favorite interactive exercises shows a portion of Harmony in Red (Red Room) alongside the exact same image with no color. Readers are encouraged to imagine the room in a different color, then try it and see.

Hello Rousseau! is written in much the same fashion. It begins with an introduction to the time period. What follows is a brief introduction from the artist in which he talks about his early life. It begins:

Hello! My name is Henri Rousseau. I was born on May 21, 1844 in a small town in France called Laval. I have a brother and three sisters. My father was an artisan and fine metal-worker. I was not a very good student but I loved to draw and make music.

As in the Matisse, book this one is sprinkled with interactive bits such as:

  • Draw a far away place from your dreams.
  • Create your own landscape in the style of Henri Rousseau. Look closely at his forms and colors.
  • Color these leaves with different kinds of green.
  • Make up a story about the wide-eyed tiger.
  • Make up a story about the sleeping musician as you add your own colors to this scene.

Both of these books provide terrific introductions to their subjects and allow readers to analyze and learn about the artists and their art in new ways. I particularly liked the focus on color and painting style, and the way their life histories were interwoven to show how life impacted art.

Overall, I found both books to be highly informative and engaging. One of the features I enjoyed most about the books, the interactive pieces, is also the one I find most problematic. I don’t encourage kids to draw in books, so I’m not sure how this will play in libraries and classrooms. I would love to see kids so excited about art after reading these titles that they just have to pick up paints and create works of their own. I just hope it will be on a canvas or medium other than these fine books.

Book: Hello Matisse!: Get to Know Matisse Through Stories, Games and Draw-It-Yourself Fun
Catherine de Duve
Birdcage Press
Publication Date:
32 pages
Source of Book:
Review copy received from Raab Associates.

Book: Hello Rousseau!: Get to Know Rousseau Through Stories, Games and Draw-It-Yourself Fun
Catherine de Duve
Birdcage Press
Publication Date:
Pages: 32 pages
Grades: 3-6
ISBN: 978-0873589260
Source of Book: Review copy received from Raab Associates.

This post was written for Nonfiction Monday. Head on over to Anastasia Suen's blog and check out all the great posts highlighting nonfiction this week.

Nonfiction Monday – Animals, Animals

There are many, many books written every day about animals. Here are two recent publications for young readers that take innovative approaches to looking at baby animals.

babyanimals.jpg closetoyou.jpg

Baby Animals: Little Ones at Play in 20 Works of Art by William Lach presents works of art in a variety of media in which baby animals take center stage. Each full page work of art is accompanied by a facing page with two words of text in large font that read baby __. Young readers will find baby dogs, baby deer, baby elephants, baby owls, and more. Below these two-word descriptors is a single sentence on each page that tells what the particular baby animal is called. The baby deer page reads “Baby deer are called fawns,” and the baby bats page reads “Baby bats are called pups.” Looking at the selected pieces of art provides wonderful opportunities to try and guess the media they were created in. Pieces include an embroidered carpet (the cover image), a dragon robe, a bark painting, ivory carving, Japanese scroll painting, lithographs, and more traditional works in oil and watercolor. With few exceptions, nearly all of these pieces come from the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Close to You: How Animals Bond by Kimiko Kajikawa presents photographs that highlight animal parents and their young during the intimate moments of bonding. Each full page photograph is accompanied by a facing page containing a short sentence about the animal pair. The rhyming text briefly describes how the animals communicate and/or share affection. Here is an excerpt.

nestle and go for a ride.
walk closely side by side.
pucker up, sniff, and lick.
whistle, clack, and click.

The pictures and text on each double-page spread are matted and framed by layers of color, with pages beautifully framed in purples, yellows, blues and oranges. The text ends by highlighting the ways in which humans show affection and caring. At the end of the book is an informational section that presents a bit of background information on each animal. A chart is also included that presents data on each of the animals in the book, including number of babies typically born, weight at birth, weight at maturity, and age of independence. Also listed are some animal web sites of interest.

Both of these books provide interesting views of baby animals and will make outstanding additions to collections for young children.

Book: Baby Animals: Little Ones at Play in 20 Works of Art
Author: William Lach
Publisher: Abrams Young Readers
Publication Date: 2008
Pages: 46 pages
Grades: preK-2
ISBN: 978-1588391827
Source of Book: Copy received from publisher.

Book: Close to You: How Animals Bond
Author: Kimiko Kajikawa
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Publication Date: 2008
Pages: 32 pages
Grades: preK-2
ISBN: 978-0805081237
Source of Book: Copy received from publisher.

This post was written for Nonfiction Monday. Head on over to Anastasia Suen's blog and check out all the great posts highlighting nonfiction this week.

Nonfiction Monday – Gallery Ghost

Remember those “spot the difference” puzzles you solved as a kid? I loved the challenge of comparing two illustrations or photographs and finding all differences between them. Imagine my surprise and utter delight to find a book that uses this format to introduce children to the world of art.


In Gallery Ghost: Find the Ghost Who Paints the Most! by Anna Nilsen, readers learn that the ghosts of 24 artists haunt a gallery. At night, the ghosts play a game where they sneak details from their own paintings onto other artists’ pictures. Sarah, the art student who helps to keep the gallery clean, challenges readers to help find the ghost who makes the most changes to the paintings of others. First she introduces each of the 24 artists, from Hendrick Avercamp to Marguerite Zorach. Next she outlines the steps to take to find the changes and “keep score” for each ghost. The book comes with a magnifying glass to help readers compare original paintings to the ones with changes, as well as a score sheet to keep track of which ghost has made the most changes.

Once directions have been given, readers get to the heart of the matter. The pages in the center of the book are cut (literally) horizontally. The paintings, which come from the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., are arranged in two ways. The top half of the page shows the images in chronological order. These are the “doctored” paintings, or the ones with ghostly changes. The bottom half of the page presents the artists in alphabetical order, accompanied by their original painting and a short poem that highlights the painter’s philosophy or technique. Written by Besty Franco, the poems cover a range of topics, from subject matter, to color and composition.

I decided to test my skills by beginning with the doctored painting Tropical Forest with Monkeys by Henri Rousseau. It was rather easy to spot what was added to the painting, but quite another matter to determine which artists were the culprits. I must admit that my old eyes did need the magnifying glass, and that at times it was hard to compare images when they didn’t align directly top-to-bottom. However, I had great fun searching for answers and learned a lot in the short time it took me to solve this first puzzle. I imagine any reader interested in art will have internalized quite a bit about the artists and their works by the time they finish spotting and attributing the differences for all the paintings.

The book ends with a brief biography of each author and an answer key where the differences are highlighted on the piece of artwork and identified by artist who made them.

Gallery Ghost is an interesting book that introduces art to young readers in an unusual and engaging manner. I recommend it for anyone who enjoys puzzles, close observation and/or art.

Book: Gallery Ghost: Find the Ghost Who Paints the Most!
Author: Anna Nilsen, poems by Betsy Franco
Illustrator: Richard Sala
Publisher: Birdcage Press
Publication Date: 2008
Pages: 40 pages
Grades: 4-8
ISBN: 978-159960-036-9
Source of Book: Copy received from Raab Associates, Inc.

This post was written for Nonfiction Monday. Head on over to Anastasia Suen's blog and check out all the great posts highlighting nonfiction this week.

Nonfiction Monday – Artist to Artist: 23 Major Illustrators Talk to Children about Their Art


My son has been enamored of art, looking at it and creating it since he could pick up a crayon and scribble. He’s particularly interested in how pictures tell stories and how they are created, so reading Artist to Artist: 23 Major Illustrators Talk to Children about Their Art with him has been particularly enjoyable.

This anthology begins, “Dear Young Artist…” What follows is a letter from one of 23 artists (with the exception of Lionni, whose letter is written by his granddaughter) about how and why they became an artist and their thoughts on their chosen profession. The letter is followed by a self-portrait of the artist on the outside of a gatefold. The fold-out pages include studio photos, sketches, examples of the evolution of a piece of work, and much more. Most artists have also included photographs from their childhood.

The letters are as different as the art created by these talented folks. In reading them, we learn about hope, inspiration, and dreams. We also learn about art itself. Here are some examples.

Mitsumasa Anno – “But in developing one’s own individual artistic style, I believe that the culture that is part of your being from childhood is of great importance. If you look deeply into the culture you were brought up in, you will find there the inspiration and the roots of your own power to create good pictures.”

Nancy Eckholm Burkert – “Artists observe. The trajectory of a ball, the thrust of a twig, the enigma of fog, patterns in the sand, the uniqueness of every cloud, the convolution of an ear, the mood on a friend’s face … everything has meaning to our eyes.”

Mordicai Gerstein – “What I always wanted to do in my pictures was to express my feelings about something — a mood of some kind, or a piece of music, or how I felt about some event or person. That’s what I still try to do. I try to make pictures that aren’t about something, but that make you feel something, — about an event, a person, or maybe just the picture itself.”

Rosemary Wells – “Draw from your life. Draw all the time. Expect to be different from other kids, because if you are an artist, you are different. Sometimes it’s hard to be different. Sometimes it hurts when people don’t understand you or laugh at you for not being cool enough, but stay the course. Believe in yourself. Believe in the paintings and drawings that come out of your mind and your hand.”

Illustrators featured in the book include:

  • Mitsumasa Anno
  • Quentin Blake
  • Ashley Bryan
  • Nancy Ekholm Burkert
  • Eric Carle
  • Tomie dePaola
  • Jane Dyer
  • Mordicai Gerstein
  • Robert Ingpen
  • Steven Kellogg
  • Leo Lionni
  • Petra Mathers
  • Wendell Minor
  • Barry Moser
  • Jerry Pinkney
  • Alice Provensen
  • Robert Sabuda & Matthew Reinhart
  • Maurice Sendak
  • Gennady Spirin
  • Chris Van Allsburg
  • Rosemary Wells
  • Paul O. Zelinsky

These letters are gifts from the heart of the artists, who share bits of their souls with readers. For children interested in how books are made, how art is created, or just crazy about creating art of their own, this book will help them recognize that becoming and artist is not only a process that requires dedication, practice and passion, but also an endeavor that can last a lifetime. I recommend this for readers of all ages who share a passion for the art of storytelling in pictures.

Book: Artist to Artist: 23 Major Illustrators Talk to Children about Their Art
Publisher: Philomel Books
Publication Date: 2007
Pages: 114 pages
Grades: 3-12
ISBN-10: 0399246002
Source of Book: Personal copy purchased from local independent bookstore.

This review was written for Nonfiction Monday. Head on over to Anastasia Suen’s blog and check out all the great posts highlighting nonfiction this week.