Friday, June 27, 2008

Artist Baskets

A few years ago it became a goal of mine to create Artist Baskets. The contents of these baskets would share with young children about the lives and creations of some of the world's more famous artists. They would be introduced at circle by me, the story of the artist would be shared, the materials presented. Next the basket would return to it's spot on the shelf accompanied by prints of the artist's work (if available), books about the artist, and any related items that might inspire my classroom of young artists to create!

A few famous names came to mind right away: Van Gogh, Matisse, Renoir, Picasso, Monet, Jackson Pollack, and I realized that they were ALL men. Talented artists who I love and adore but still, ALL men, and there are little girls who are artists! And so I began searching out some more talented artists (who happened to be female) to balance my collection. Easier said than done...

Should you want to enrich your classrooms or homes with Artist Baskets of your own, these are the female artists I added to my list:
  • Mary Cassatt
  • Georgia O'Keeffe
  • Grandma Moses
  • Frida Kahlo
  • Beatrix Potter
Here is a sample of one of my more simple Artist Baskets:
Artist: Georgia O'Keeffe

Materials: Flower fabric (not shown)

Georgia O’Keeffe doll representation(s)

Small easel with several small prints of her paintings

Silk flower


"Watch where I go to get today’s story."

Unfold the flower fabric. As you smooth out the wrinkles say . . .

"What could this be? Are these flowers? I like flowers; I wonder if the artist we are going to learn about today enjoyed flowers? Let’s see what else we have in this Artist’s basket."

Set up the small easel incorrectly at first, as though you had never seen one before, then right it, nod and look in the basket for a painting to display on it. As you do say things like . . .

"I think I recognize this, it is so colorful, yes, I think I’ve seen this picture before."

Place the Georgia O’Keeffe doll on the flower fabric.

"This is the Artist who painted these pictures. Her name is Georgia O’Keeffe.

Let me share with you, the story of her life."

Place the small Georgia doll on the rug.

"This girl is Georgia. She became a famous artist when she grew up, but when she was just a small child she was already an artist. She drew pictures every day. She wore flowers in her hair.

Pause. Pick up the silk flower and tuck it over your ear or in your hair (if possible).

She loved nature and drawing and painting the things that were around her.

I know of children who enjoy doing that."

Smile at the children and look around the classroom at their artwork admiringly.

"Georgia wanted so much to see more of this world, and to paint what she saw."

Place your hand to your forehead and slowly look high and low and all around..

"When she grew older she left home and traveled to New York City. While in the city first she painted the city."

Pause to show a painting of a city scape done by O'Keeffe

"Do you remember what Georgia liked to put in her hair?"

"Flowers! Yes, flowers. Are there fields of flowers growing in a city? No...and Georgia missed the flowers."

So she had an idea."

Place the city scape painting back into the basket and slowly reveal a painting of a flower by O'Keeffe

She would paint flowers SO BIG that the busy people who lived in the city would STOP being busy to enjoy something beautiful, even if just for a moment."

Pause to admire the painting, take the flower from your hair and lay it next to the easel.

"Georgia longed to see more places and more beautiful things; so she packed up her paints and moved West.

This time she lived by a desert. She painted landscapes and cactus flowers."

Pause to show another painting of O'Keeffe's

"Georgia painted every day. She almost always wore black and white

and she always wore something special in her hair."

Pick up the silk flower and place it again in your hair.

"Do you know what that special something Georgia wore was?

Yes, you're right, a flower!"


I followed the presentation of this Artist's Basket with an art project. Flower prints. Using a shallow pan the children dipped their chosen flowers in the paint and then placed them on to paper to make a print.

For more information about creating O'Keeffe type art projects with your children please visit: KinderArt

Thank you for reading!


Montessori Mama


MerrandaVK said...

WOW, how wonderful! And inspirational! I love this!!!!! I am trying to find books at the library for youngsters to start learning about art/artists.

Anonymous said...

Really beautiful. I have been collecting small items to present various artists for several years now. Reading your presentation has encouraged me to stop collecting more items and present the story.
Thank you. Great job!!

Susan Dyer
The Moveable Alphabet

Lindart said...

I LOVE this idea!! One more thing to add to my giant list of things to make for my classroom! Would you have a doll to represent each artist?

Anonymous said...

What a great idea! I love your inspiration.

amanda. said...

omygoodness this is a great idea. i'm going to have my aunt, who is a painter, make these baskets for my boys for christmas or other gift-giving events. she will Love the idea!

Shannon said...

this is my favorite idea of yours yet.

Jennifer Howard said...

Thanks everyone for your sweet compliments! To address some questions:
Yes, I do have a doll to represent the artists mentioned. And because you all enjoyed this post I plan to post more of my artist baskets for you to see in the near future. Picasso's is my favorite basket so far. Should you create your own please email me and let me know! I would love to see how others interpret this idea.
Have fun and get your kiddos in on the act whenever possible.
PEACE to you all,
thanks again

Anonymous said...

Oooo, I loved this post too! How inspiring! I think I will try and create some baskets for home too... I'm just not sure I'll be able to pull off such a great presentation story!

Thanks :)

plaidshoes said...

I have been trying for a long time to figure out a holistic way to present art, this is great! I would also like to present different composers. Would you do something similar, but with a sound component?

Amy@Let's Explore said...

I hope you show us more baskets - I love this idea! My 5-year-old is really interested in famous artists and I have been wanting to incorporate something like this into our creative playtime. Thanks for the inspiration! :) Amy @ Let's Explore

Karin said...

Wow!!! This is fantastic! I love this idea. I've got to do this.

A few of my favourite women artists for you:
Alice Neal -
Louisa Matthiasdottir -
(she's one of my favourites - and you could talk about Iceland!)
Louise Nevelson -

Jennifer Howard said...

Hi Again Everyone,
My husband has taken my camera for his trip and so more photos will have to be on hold...sorry.
I think Plaidshoes' idea to share about musicians is a grand one! How to go about that....I'm going to think of something.
Karin, thanks for the ARTIST list wow! I can't wait to look them up and make some new baskets.

Anonymous said...

what a FANTASTIC idea!

but where do you get the doll? i think the doll is a wonderful part of it. musicians too, would be great. i have wondered how to introduce artists to my 2.5 yo. what a great idea.

MamaGames - Alexa C. said...

Oh! I love these - I found this post via The Artful Parent. I would really be grateful if you publish more pictures (and the stories to go along with them!) of your other artist baskets.

Rita said...

Can I ask do you live in the US? I love the Montessori method. I teach first grade and have for 15 years. I'm ready for a change but have no idea how to approach a teaching position in this area. If you could help me I'd be forever grateful.

MaryAnn Cleary said...

What a delightful post! I ran across your site through my daughter's site. I am one of those struggling artists who is recently transitioned from being an engineer into my life's passion ~ an artist.

Sweetness and Light said...

This is a splendid idea, and it turned out just beautifully! Thank you for sharing, can't wait to see the others! Blessings,

Mrs. Wright said...

I just ran across your wonderful blog & post. I am trying to put together lessons to introduce famous artists to my 3-6 year old students. I love the Artist baskets and am wondering the same as some of your other readers. Can you post more pictures and stories? Where did you get the doll and some of your other items? I plan to keep up with you often! Thanks for the lovely information!

christian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
pre-ktweets said...

Hi, I love the idea of artist baskets! I am a pre-k teacher and on our school art committee. I was wondering how you made the dolls and if you have photos of you other baskets? I would really like to create some of these types of baskets this summer. Thanks!!

Where in the World?


Related Posts with Thumbnails