Monthly Archives: January 2021

Stay Snuggly Warm for Winter Walks, A Fun Art Activity for Creative Kids

Winter walks need the right clothing. When you looked at Monet’s painting, The Magpie, in my last post, did you think about what you would have to wear to enjoy that winter day?

The Magpie, 1868, Claude Monet, Musee D’Orsay, public domain

This post will include 3 things:

  1. A short story about the woes of getting 20 kindergartners ready to go outside in the winter… but why it’s worth it
  2. A fun art activity about hats, mittens, and winter pictures
  3. Some suggestions for related curriculum connections to enjoy

Story

“Where was that boot?” I knew the child had arrived in boots, but I had crawled under every table and it was nowhere. I finally gave up and searched through our spare bin for a boot to fit her small, stockinged foot, so we could go out for recess.

Each child had a cubby, so you’d think it would be easy to match each child to their outdoor clothing. Not so. Twenty kindergartners can quickly create an infinite number of mismatched mittens, boots, and lost hats. Chaos often reigned, along with tears. Lots of tears–sometimes mine .

When I graduated college, I took a position team-teaching with an experienced kindergarten teacher. Kindergarten was half day, and we taught one group in the morning and another in the afternoon. So teaching time was at a premium. Despite that, this teacher insisted we take children out for a recess. Even if it was cold and snowy. (and in Maine it often was)

About three days into the first cold week of winter, I asked (okay, grumbled!) why we took so much valuable lesson time for recess in the winter. Wouldn’t it be easier to just let them play in the block corner? She just smiled.

And as she knew I would, I soon began to notice the joy on children’s faces as they played outside. Sticky snow inspired snowmen. They loved to taste snowflakes on their tongues, and even in snowsuits and boots, they jumped in snow drifts and chased each other around the playground. When we came back in, the wiggles were gone, and most settled down to do a little more work.

No matter what age we are, we all need those breaks to get out the wiggles. Outside sights and sounds refresh us mentally, physically, and spiritually. But we need snuggly clothing to enjoy wintry weather.

So here is our art project. A child’s happy face with a hat and mittens opening up to reveal a picture of something they enjoyed outside on a winter day.

A Fun Art Activity

Supplies

  • Sturdy white paper
  • Pencils
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Crayons and/or water color paints and brushes
  • markers

Directions (Although there’s lots children can do on this projects, an adult or older child will need to do the original measuring, cutting, and drawing)

For an adult

  1. From the white paper, cut a strip 18” long X 6” wide
  2. Measure 9” in to find the middle
  3. From that point measure 3¼” over twice on each side of the middle mark and draw lines ( which leaves 2¼” left on each side)
  4. Fold on these lines as shown in the pictures (the inner folds toward the center—they should meet there—and the outer folds outward)
  5. Next draw a template for a mitten and one half of a child’s face topped with a hat. (see the picture)
  6. Using the mitten template draw a mitten on each side of the outer fold (turn the template over for the second mitten
  7. On the folds beneath the mittens, use the face template to draw half a face on each side. (See the picture)
  8. Cut away some of the paper around the mitten so it is still attached but has the mitten shape. (see the picture)

For Children

  1. Draw designs on the mittens and eyes, nose and mouth on the face ( just one eye and half of the nose and mouth go on each side)
  2. Do the designs in crayon and fill in the spaces with water color paint (this is called crayon resist, because the waxy crayon resist the paint) you can mix your paint colors and paint right over the crayon designs.
  3. On the space inside, attach a photo or draw a picture of something you enjoyed seeing outside this winter
  4. When finished and dry, refold the sections so the mittens cover the child’s face until you open it all up.This makes a great picture to put up on the fridge or a card to send to grandparents!

Helpful Hints

  • Children may use just crayon or marker for this activity
  • If using the crayon resist method, have children outline all shapes with crayon, even if they don’t color them in. This makes it easier to paint within the lines of the hat, mittens, etc.
  • I left my face uncolored except for rosy cheeks, so that children can choose the skin color they’d like. Most large boxes of crayons now have many skin tones available
  • Help children mix enough water and pigment to be able to paint a whole space. (this is what the cover of paint sets is for) But not so much water that no color shows and the paper gets saturated.

Variations

  • Use colored paper for your base and draw and cut out faces and mittens from white paper. Once these are colored, cut the mittens out and the face apart and glue onto the folded base paper. You will still have to measure and cut the base paper as explained above.
  • Make a real pompom of yarn for the hat (you’ll actually need 2 pompoms!)
  • Use some cloth to make a scarf

Cleanup Tips

This is not a very messy project, but certainly a supply of paper towels and a plastic tablecloth are helpful if you decide to paint.

Curriculum Connections

  • Look up how sheep are raised and cared for and learn about how their wool is turned into yarn.
  • Watch a video of sheepdogs in action.
  • Watch a video of someone knitting mittens and hats.
  • Research about the Industrial Revolution and how spinning and weaving were among the first processes to be mechanized.
  • What were some good outcomes of this mechanization, such as cheaper goods?
  • What were some bad outcomes for the workers who flocked to the cities to work in the mills? such as child labor.
  • What are some new, man-made fibers that help keep us warm today?

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Molly and I hope you enjoyed this art activity and will be able to don your own snuggly hat, mittens, and scarf and get outside to enjoy God’s creation!Next post will be children’s books about winter! Don’t miss it! Sign up to receive the Picture Lady posts by email.

 

 

 

 

Winter Snow, Winter Color, Winter Quiet

In his many winter snow scenes, Claude Monet showed that winter has lots of color! In 1890, in a field near his home in Giverny, Monet began his first series—painting the same 2 or 3 grain stacks to capture how light changes the color of objects, even snow!

Haystack, Morning, Snow Effect, 1891, Claude Monet, Boston Museum of Art, public domain

Monet thought he could do it in just a few canvases, but he ended up with about 30 paintings in the series. Each day he trundled out to the field with a wheelbarrow full of unfinished canvases that he switched as the light and weather changed.

When winter came, Monet paid the farmer extra money to leave the stacks in place so he could paint them in winter. He painted early and late and once complained that the winter sun set so quickly it was hard to capture its effects.

People immediately loved the grain or hay stack paintings, and their sale allowed Monet to buy his home in Giverny. People still love them—in May of 2019 one sold at auction for a record-breaking 110.7 million dollars.

This post is about an earlier winter painting by Monet, The Magpie.

The Magpie, 1868, Claude Monet, Musee D’Orsay, public domain

Done in 1868, its quiet beauty shows how Monet was experimenting and developing his style, especially his use of color in shadows ( an earlier winter painting has black and gray shadows). The Magpie also shows the technique he was developing to capture fleeting changes while painting en plein air (outdoors). The post includes:

  • Information about the painting
  • Activities to help you and your children enjoy and understand the painting
  • A kid-friendly devotion

The Painting

In these early years the official French salon rejected most of Monet’s paintings, and he sold very few. But in 1868 he received a couple commissions and was able to rent a house on the Normandy coast.

He wanted to paint the famous cliffs there, which he did. But The Magpie shows there had been a heavy snowstorm and Monet probably couldn’t get to the cliffs. Instead he painted this scene, probably close to the house he was renting.

(when it’s not traveling as part of special exhibits, The Magpie lives at the Musee d’Orsay in Paris. Its website doesn’t allow you to enlarge the painting, but this link will take you to one you can enlarge as you move your cursor around to see details)   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claude_Monet#/media/File:Claude_Monet_-_The_Magpie_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg

  • In the painting the sun is low in the sky, casting long shadows across the sunlit scene. The painting’s brightness is accentuated by the dark tree trunks, branches, and the wattle or woven wood fence. Monet paints the deep snow with patches or dabs of paint, his emerging technique for capturing the changing light. In the middle ground a long light rose-colored building with reddish chimneys, is the only truly warm place in the painting. In the background is the sea.
  • Look closely at the sky to see yellows and reds and blues and violets. And when you look at the snow, especially in the shaded areas, you’ll see violets and blues and even some yellows and pinks.
  • The focal point of the painting (the area that draws your attention) is the magpie sitting on top of the fence.

Activities to Help You and Your Children Enjoy the Painting

Before doing any other activities, ask children to tell what’s going on in the painting and what tells them that. Then have them to tell what else they see. Enhance observational and verbal skills by rephrasing words and adding new vocabulary. Help them see nuances of color in the sky and snow.

1.This painting is great for describing what we’d hear and see and feel if we’d been there with Monet. Here are some good questions to help children imagine what it would be like:

  • Have you ever been out after deep snow and noticed how quiet it is?
  • Have you ever walked in the woods after a snow and had snow plop down on you from the trees overhead?
  • What would you need to wear to be comfortable in this scene?
  • Would you feel the cold seeping into your feet even through your boots? Can you imagine how cold Monet’s fingers must’ve gotten as he tried to paint this?
  • Would the fence feel rough or smooth?
  • Do you think the snow would be warm and sticky enough to make a snowman?
  • Do you see how Monet has created a rhythm of shadows across the painting in front of the fence?

2.It could also be fun to make up a story about the magpie. Here are some story prompts:

  • How long has he been sitting on the fence?
  • Where was he before?
  • Is he looking around for food or is he resting?
  • Is he quiet or singing?
  • What other creatures might live here?
  • Look up information about magpies to see how they survive winter.

Devotion

Our everyday lives are busy and often noisy, and cold winter days aren’t always inviting, but taking a walk on a winter day and be refreshing for our bodies, our minds, and our souls.

So take a walk with your children. Help them be especially observant with some of the following suggestions:

  • Have them stand still and listen, then tell what they hear
  • If it’s quite cold, can they see their breath hanging in the air as they speak
  • Study shadow shapes and colors on the snow.
  • Look at the sky and describe the colors and clouds
  • Look for bird nests (they show up more without leaves on the trees).
  • Look at different tree shapes (these also show more in winter)
  • Observe animal tracks. If you go out soon after a new snow, you may see rabbit or squirrel or even deer tracks. Take photos of these and look up how to tell the difference between rabbit and squirrel tracks.
  • Many birds stay around all year, so it’s fun to watch them and observe their winter habits. Use a field guide to identify species.

After your walk come inside, make some cocoa, and gather to talk about your walk and what you’ve learned.

  1. Discuss with your children all the things they saw and heard on your walk. Read Ecclesiastes 3:11 “He has made everything beautiful in its time.”
  2. Talk about the variety and beauty of clouds, trees, types of nests, and tracks in the snow. Describe the type of snow you walked in. Talk about and look up why some birds go south and others can survive cold winters.
  3. Read verses from Job, chapters 38-39 (especially 38:19-22 and 24-30) and talk about God’s wisdom, creativity, and continuing care of all He has made.
  4. Discuss the ways you saw God’s hand caring for plants and creatures while outside enjoying the quiet of a winter day. (Suggestions: snow covers and protects plants from the cold; squirrels and rabbits have thick, furry coats for warmth; red cardinals and black-capped chickadees eat seeds that are still around in the winter)

Just as the quiet winter day helps us see God’s hand in creation, taking time each day to be quiet with God can help us know Him even better. God is our heavenly Father, and He wants us to come to Him and talk to Him in prayer about all the things going on in our lives. He wants to talk to us, too, through His word that helps us learn about Jesus and His love for us.

What do you enjoy most about winter and how does it point you to God?

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Molly and I hope you’ve enjoyed this winter painting and the devotion about it! Come back soon for a related art activity, curriculum connections, and children’s books about winter!