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Enjoy an exploration of art and beauty with our free The Art Lesson activities based on Tomie dePaola’s biographical story.

Thanks to Ginger A. for writing this The Art Lesson Unit Study.

The Art Lesson Summary

Tomie dePaola, beloved children’s author and illustrator wrote this wonderful book, The Art Lesson, about the joy of art and individuality.

When he grows up, Tommy wants to be an artist. However, he is disheartened when he goes to school and learns that art is full of rules. Will the art teacher be able to help Tommy keep his love and joy for art?

The Art Lesson Activities

The Art Lesson Language Arts Activities Lessons

You need “puff paint” for this activity.
Trace the names of the colors found in the official “SCHOOL CRAYONS” box.

First the parent will write each word on a separate sheet of cardstock. The child will use the appropriate color of plastic paint to trace the words. While the paint dries, cut out pictures to illustrate each color word. Glue the pictures to the cardstock. The child can trace the words with his fingertip and feel the letters.

Color Phrases
Discuss the meaning of these phrases from the story.

  • He turned red as a beet.
  • Jim’s been blue since his friend moved.
  • Doris is pea green with envy.
  • He’s a black hearted pirate.
  • She turned white as a ghost.

Ask your child if he can think of other color phrases; invent some together.

The Art Lesson Math Activities

Categorizing and Sorting
Tom and Nana own a grocery store. Set up a grocery store at home. Place a variety of foods on the table-dry goods, cans, produce, drinks, spices etc. Tell your child to sort the food into categories and set up the store. He will need to create a system for categorizing the items and explain it to you. Allow time for your child to rearrange items as he considers different properties of each item.

Help your child to make price tags for the grocery store items. Then use real coins to shop at the store. Help your child to count out the correct change for each purchase. An older child may be able to add the prices. Show your child that a nickel is the same as five pennies, a dime is ten pennies, etc.

Adding and Subtracting
Tommy must use the official “SCHOOL CRAYONS”. Give your child the eight official crayons. Tell your child that the two of you will share the crayons. Name two crayons you want to borrow. How many does your child have now? Give the crayons back and borrow a new set of crayons. Tell your child he can use the crayons after you put them down. Each time the crayons change hands count the amount each person has.

The Art Lesson Science Activities

The art teacher has a big box of thick chalk. Did you know that chalk is a rock? It is made from gypsum. Read about gypsum in an encyclopedia. Plaster of Paris is just gypsum ground into powder. Here is a recipe for making sidewalk chalk.

Supplies List

  1. a small container of Plaster of Paris
  2. 5 oz. disposable plastic cups [one for each color you want to make]
  3. acrylic craft paint in your favorite colors
  4. popsicle style craft sticks
  5. water
  6. measuring cups [1/2 c. 1/4c.]
  7. measuring spoon [1t. size]
  8. scissors

Steps to Follow

  1. Measure ½ c Plaster of Paris and place it into a plastic cup.
  2. Add 1 t. of acrylic paint to the plaster. Use a craft stick to scrape all the paint off the measuring spoon.
  3. Slowly add ¼ c. water while mixing. If you need to. Add a few extra drops water until the mixture looks like thick pudding.
  4. Set aside to harden overnight. Repeat steps 1-4 using different color paints.
  5. The next day, cut off the plastic cup. If the sides of your sidewalk chalk feel cool and damp, let dry for another day before using.
  6. Draw a picture!

Art Activities

Decorate a Pillow Case
Tommy drew pictures on his sheets. Use fabric markers to decorate a pillowcase. You may want to write part of Psalm 121:3 on it.

Draw Your Home
Tommy drew a picture of his new house. Go outside and observe your home. Use the sidewalk chalk from the science lesson to draw a picture on the sidewalk or driveway. Be sure to take a picture of it.

Color Mixing
Observe how colors are mixed to create new colors. Line up a row of clear jars on the table, add some water. Follow the directions on a box of liquid food coloring to mix all the different colors. If Queen Anne’s lace is in season, have some on hand and put into the jars and watch the flowers change colors. The food coloring water is ok used as watercolor paint, though the colors fade a bit once dried. (Instead of the Queen Anne’s lace you can buy a white carnation at the store.)

Painting Cookies
Look at some paintings by Giotto. Giotto’s paints were made from egg yolks mixed with clay, minerals and other items from nature. In this activity you will paint cookies with an egg yolk “paint”.

  1. Mix up your favorite sugar cookie dough.
  2. Decide how many colors you want to make. Crack and separate the eggs, one yolk for each color. Put each yolk in a separate bowl.
  3. Stir each yolk until smooth. Add food coloring, until yolk is desired color. Blend.
  4. Cut out the cookies and paint designs on the cookies using new paintbrushes. Bake.

Idea for Broken Crayons
Take broken crayons with the paper removed and put them into muffin tins. Put them into the oven on about 250 degrees and you have wonderful new crayons. You can mix different shades of blue for water, oranges, yellows and reds for sun and volcanoes. There are many different things you can do with the crayons. We used a disposable aluminum muffin pan.

Social Studies Activities for The Art Lesson

Tommy wants to be an artist when he is grown. Discuss different occupations. Be sure to include the arts.

Family Heritage
Tommy’s grandparents are Irish and Italian. Discuss your family heritage with your child.

Spend some time looking through a family photo album together. Tell your child the names of his grandparents and great-grandparents.

Tom and Nana are Irish. Locate Ireland on a globe. Explain that Ireland is an island. It is often called the “Emerald Isle.” Northern Ireland is part of Great Britain; Southern Ireland is the Republic of Ireland. Ireland is part of the British Isles. Locate the Shannon River. Locate Italy on the globe. What is the shape of Italy?

How to Get Started with The Art Lesson Activities

Follow these simple instructions to get started with the The Art Lesson unit study:

  1. Buy a copy of the book, The Art Lesson, or grab one from your local library.
  2. Print the The Art Lesson unit study.
  3. Choose the lessons you want to use with your student (a highlighter works great for this).
  4. Enjoy a week of book based learning with your preschool student.

Download Your Free The Art Lesson Activities

Simply click on the image below to grab an easy-to-print file of The Art Lesson unit study.

The Art Lesson Unit Study

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