“Every child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when you grow up.”—Pablo Picasso
Spring is almost here! It’s time to capture that creative spirit through art and color! This month’s column features picture books that do just that! It was difficult to make these choices from the vast creative selections available for children, so there are a few extra titles in the accompanying activity ideas. To begin, a couple of special related events taking place include:
- March is Youth Art Month (YAM) with the Council for Art Education partnering with the National Art Education Association (NAEA) for this celebration of young people and art. For more information, see the related news announcement (
http://www.arteducators.org/news/yam/) which contains links for a YAM Informational Booklet and YAM List of Ideas.
- And, a special note in relation to art, color, and creativity is the 2012-2013 celebration of the Caldecott Medal 75th Anniversary by the Association for Library Service to Children. Check out the special webpage (
http://www.ala.org/alsc/Caldecott75/). This spring is a terrific time to highlight these books in the library and classroom. For a complete list, go to: http://www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/bookmedia/caldecottmedal/caldecottmedal/.
Brennan-Nelson, Denise, and Rosemarie Brennan. Willow. Illus. by Cyd Moore. Sleeping Bear Press, 2011.
▶An extensive 25-page activity guide to accompany this book can be found at the illustrator’s homepage (
Johnson, Crockett. Harold and the Purple Crayon. Harper, 1955.
▶From the publisher HarperCollins, a printable activity sheet encourages children to help Harold draw a new picture (
▶A fun and purple art activity can be found at:
▶Extensive background information for a philosophical discussion of Harold and the Purple Crayon can be found at the “Teaching Children Philosophy” page (
▶A general list of discussion questions for Harold can be found at:
Litwin, Eric. Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes. Illus. by James Dean. HarperCollins, 2010.
▶Print out a color recognition worksheet featuring Pete’s tennis shoes (
▶HarperCollins features a page on Pete the Cat that includes activity downloads, video, and song audio (
▶A wide variety of activities including math, art, and language arts are linked on the MakeLearningFun page (
McDonnell, Patrick. Art. Little Brown, 2006.
▶Watch a brief video of Art read by Patrick McDonnell (
▶Find a reproducible word scramble at:
▶Learn more about Patrick McDonnell and his other creative children’s books (
Prévert, Jacques. How to Paint the Portrait of a Bird. Illus. by Mordicai Gertstein. Roaring Brook Press, 2007.
▶Discussion questions for a variety of children’s picture books can be found at CMU Public Broadcasting (
▶Share painting bird lessons for elementary school children at Deep Space Sparkle: Art Lessons for Kids with the following pages: How to Draw a Bird Art Lesson (
Reed, Lynn Rowe. Color Chaos! Holiday House, 2010.
▶For an interesting presentation of 180 colors, check out Pantone’s Colors (Abrams Appleseed, 2012). The left side of the yellow double-page spread has twenty squares of various shades of yellow with the Pantone names (mustard yellow, honey yellow, school bus yellow, lemon yellow) and the right side has an illustration of a lion made of some of the various yellow shades. This is a fun book in a sturdy format that will lead to lots of discussion of color names. Students might enjoy putting sticky notes on various items in the classroom or library to signify their “exact” color, either using the closest one in this book or creating their own color names.
▶Download a Color Chaos color wheel for students to color and complete (
Reynolds, Peter. The Dot. Candlewick, 2003.
▶Visit Peter Reynolds’s page for a variety of learning activities related to The Dot and a list of questions and answers regarding the story (
▶Other picture books by Reynolds that explore children’s creativity are Ish (Candlewick, 2004) and Sky Color (Candlewick, 2012).
▶Find a simple art activity at Blog Hoppin: Creative with The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds (
▶Watch for the announcement of the 2013 International Dot Day (
Seeger, Laura Vaccaro. Green. Roaring Brook Press, 2012.
▶The blog of The Classroom Bookshelf: Teaching with Children’s and Young Adult Literature in the 21st Century featured Green on May 21, 2012. The post extended six creative “teaching invitations” (activities) for using the book with young people (
▶Check out Laura Vaccaro Seeger’s Lemons Are Not Read (Roaring Brook Press, 2008) which is another intriguing exploration of color.
Sidman, Joyce. Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors. Illus. by Pamela Zagarenski. Houghton Mifflin, 2009. (2010 Caldecott Honor Book)
▶Look on Joyce Sidman’s Poetry Now! Archives page at writing “sunesthesia” (mixing of the senses) for poems that include color (
▶Check out the 24-page guide from Junior Library Guild that features a variety of language-based activities and reproducible pages, such as matching games, find the letter, blend the sounds, etc. (
▶Connect with the classic children’s poetry book Hailstones and Halibut Bones: Adventures in Color by Mary O’Neill, which includes a dozen poems with each featuring a different color. It was originally released by Doubleday in 1973 with illustrations by Leonard Weisgard. A 1990 Doubleday reissue includes illustrations by John Wallner. Another older color book that may be in your collection is Arnold Adoff’s Greens (Illus.by Betsy Lewin. Lothrop, Lee & Shepard, 1988), which is poetry in celebration of many things green. Jane Yolen’s Color Me a Rhyme: Nature Poems for Young People (Photographs by Jason Stemple. Wordsong, 2003) includes thirteen poems which each connect to color in nature.
Walsh, Ellen Stoll. Mouse Paint. Harcourt, 1989.
▶The Homeschool Share page has a wide range of activities to accompany Mouse Paint (
▶If you belong to Pinterest, visit the Mouse Paint page (
▶Find a simple color mixing lesson (
Warner, Carl. A World of Food: Discover Magical Lands Made of Things You Can Eat! Abrams, 2012.
▶An interesting follow-up activity could be to create your own magical food landscapes (or foodscapes!) in the classroom or library, either using real food items or some created from construction paper and crayons.
▶Another fun food weather and landscape book is Judi Barrett’s classic Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (Illus. by Ronald Barrett. Atheneum, 1982) that shares the story of the town of Chewandswallow. A variety of related activities can be found at: