It’s not even worth pretending I was not feeling mighty smug about how much we had all enjoyed looking at ‘Starry Night’ by Van Gogh yesterday. I’d originally planned on doing a different painting on each of the 5 days we were going to cover famous artists. However, when the kids were still talking about the painting at bedtime, I realized I wanted to do another Starry night activity.
I realized that what had made yesterday, and our color by numbers so good, was that we had all been sitting, chatting and laughing, as we worked. The true joy comes from being a group, because of J’s job it’s so rare we’re all together, and I knew I wanted to experience the happy feeling of yesterday again. Working together on one big project seemed like the best way to achieve this.
I’d seen large scale mosaics on walls at schools over the years, and done some smaller scale ones with kids when I was student teaching. The beauty in them is the actual simplicity of the activity. All that is required is for the kids to glue paper onto paper, and because of the general concept behind a mosaic, they don’t have to be terribly precise, making this ideal for younger kids.
Whilst the kids were wolfing down some random smorgasbord lunch I’d haphazardly thrown together, I set up. I was going to do 7 bowls with 7 different colored paper pieces, but I eventually decided that I could do without the green. The actual painting doesn’t include it, the color by numbers most likely only did to add some interest and detail to the bottom right hand corner and detract from all the black. To make the mosaic pieces I cut paper into strips and then made a stack. Then I just randomly chopped along the stack, making varying sizes of piece. For the ‘Starry Night’ template I found an incredible sketch of the painting (linked below) and printed it at 400% scale on my regular home printer. It came out across 16 pages, and then it was just a question of putting them together like a puzzle. I also taped them to the table, because all of us working together would end up getting the pieces knocked, and my type A Teddy would most likely stop working once a piece was knocked out of place and was “ruined”.
Once the template was taped to the table, I put the bowls of mosaic pieces next to it, a bowl of glue sticks, and the print out of the original painting from yesterday. This was so the kids could pick it up and reference what color piece they were putting where. I also put out our color by numbers from yesterday. Just to inspire us a bit. The kids love having their work around the place, and Teddy said that by the time the summer is over “our house will look like a museum”. I hope so!
It was so interesting watching the kids work together, but separately. William had loved using black sharpies to color in the spire on his color by numbers yesterday. Today he immediately gravitated towards that part of the picture again. He is a methodical, measured kid, and very carefully stuck the black pieces neatly against the lines to do the outline before he started filling it
For the craft you will need
- Printer to print the template
- Paper or card stock in black, dark blue, light blue, yellow and orange.
- Scissors to cut mosaic pieces
- Glue sticks
- Tape to stick template to table
- Template for Starry Night sketch
Whilst we were all working on our masterpieces we talked about Vincent Van Gogh. I absolutely hate lying to kids, but also know approaching the topic of a suicidal Dutch painter, who shot himself in poverty having never sold a piece, probably is a bit much for a 5 year old and a 4 year old. However we did mention that he had died young, never sold a painting whilst he was alive, and painted Starry Night whilst he was in hospital. Whilst I of course hope none of my kids become mentally unstable, commercially unsuccessful, misunderstood geniuses, I do hope that they end up having the level of respect and admiration for each other that Theo and Vincent Van Gogh did for each other, and we talked about that relationship.
I am really so proud of our finished work, in a way it is shame that it is so large, as we would have where to keep and display it permanently. I took tons of photos and videos of it though. We will definitely be doing more mosiac arts and crafts on this larger scale over the rest of the summer.
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