Monday, March 26, 2012

Van Gogh Unit Study

We just finished up our study of Vincent Van Gogh.  The kids really enjoyed this study and had fun with the art projects we did.  I love to gather the materials when we are doing a new study and make a display with them.  It always inspires the children.

We used the following books ~
  • The First Starry Night
  • Vincent Van Gogh Sunflowers and Swirly Stars
  • Discovering Great Artists
  • Van Gogh and the Post-Impressionists for Kids
  • Van Gogh and the Sunflowers
  • Vincent Van Gogh and the Colors of the Wind
We did picture studies of the following paintings ~
  • The Starry Night
  • The Potato Eaters
  • The Cafe Terrace at Night
  • Harvest at La Crau
  • Boats on the Beach at Saintes-Maries
  • Portrait of Doctor Gachet (my favorite)
  • Sunflowers
  • Portrait of Pere Tanguy
The kids made sunflowers.  They used tempera paint and glue mixed together.  The center of the flowers is made with glue and coffee.

As well, they made a collage of their favorite things and then placed a photo of themselves in the center.  This was a fun project related to Van Gogh's "Portrait of Pere Tanguy," who was surrounded by his favorite things.

The kids also enjoyed doing a project called swirly words.  They wrote words describing themselves in swirling lines around a photo of themselves.

For narration, they each told me what they had learned and told me about their favorite Van Gogh painting.

Goldilocks ~
Van Gogh was a sad man.  He got so upset once that he cut off his own ear.  He had a brother.  Farmers used to use his paintings to cover cracks and holes in their walls.  Those paintings were ruined.  Vincent Van Gogh may have been murdered.  My favorite painting is the "Sunflowers".  It has my favorite flower and I like the bright, happy colors.

Tom Sawyer ~
I learned that he made many, many drawings.  One time he put candles on his hat to make pictures at night.  He only sold one picture in his whole life.  He painted all of the time, even during the Mistral Wind, which is a famous wind in France.  The wind blows and blows and drives some people crazy. He traveled all over France.  My two favorite paintings were "The Cafe Terrace at Night" and "Harvest at La Crau".  I love the colors in the harvest one.  It has lots of detail.  I like the cafe picture because I like the idea of eating outside at night, and Van Gogh made me feel like I could be there.

Little Red Ridinghood ~
Vincent was a painter.  He sold only one painting in his life.  Actually, his brother sold the painting for him.  His brother also took care of him.  He loved his brother with all his heart.  Van Gogh loved the colors yellow and orange.  He lived and painted all over France.  Most people did not like him because he was grumpy.  He made hundreds of pictures.  My favorite painting is the "Sunflowers," because I like flowers and it looks like a happy picture. 
Please check out other posts at learning all the time.
Blessings, Dawn


  1. What awesome artwork your kids made!!! That sunflower painting is beautiful. Love the swirly pictures too.

  2. I love the collages. I haven't done them with the kids, and probably should. The Van Gogh in the Sunflowers is a great one.

  3. this is awesome! thank you for linking up! we have been using the Mike Venezia books for artist studies, but i would love to dig in more to some artists-like this!

  4. Oh, that's wonderful! I love their narrations. You can really tell what reflected with each child. :) Van Gogh is my daughter's favorite artist; we're going to see an exhibit of his works at the Philadelphia art museum this spring!

  5. Van Gogh is one of my favorite painters! This is a cute post, and a great lesson for your children.

  6. Excellent ideas! Van Gogh's Sunflowers and The Starry Night are some of my favorite paintings. Thanks for linking with LWWD :)

  7. Great project ideas! Also pinning this. :)

  8. What a great unit study, Dawn! I loved reading what your kids thought of Van Gogh. Their drawings are beautiful, too!

  9. Great project. Do you mind sharing what you do when you do a study on a picture? Are you following a plan or coming up with questions on your own? I'm really not an artist and this area is not one that we explore very often.

    Love the idea of the picture of themselves over their favorite things. Reminds me of a lesson we just covered in Skylark where a photograph was often made with people surrounded by their prize possessions. :-)

    Thanks for sharing this!

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