Matisse may well be my favorite human beings to have ever walked this planet. I have to try (really hard!) not to base every art lesson I do on Matisse. Fauvism, still lives, cut outs… I love them all!
So of course I had to find a way to teach Matisse to Ollie’s preschool class!
I rarely hear of toddlers doing art lessons with an art history basis. I think it’s generally it is assumed that it will be “over their heads”.
I will have to beg to differ here. I think that toddlers are the most eager learners. They fully engross themselves in any and all experiences. Art is no different. If you present them with information about art and artists, they will learn from it. They may not remember the name Henri Matisse, or specifics about his art work… but they won’t forget the creative process or the way it made them feel. Early and constant exposure to art history just primes the brain for artistry… and it most certainly can’t hurt!
There are so many great books for little ones that have art history references. I came across the book “Henri’s Scissors” by Jeanette Winter in the library. It is a beautifully illustrated book that puts Mr. Matisse’s life into very toddler friendly words. The kiddos in O’s preschool “ooooooed and ahhhhhhhhed” as I read the book. They were very impressed by the scale of Matisse’s work.
After sharing the book we looked at a specific Matisse piece, “The Snail”. The kids were excited to try to piece the shapes in this piece together to make a snail!
I love the mystery of this piece. The piece is non-objective until you read the title. Matisse’s color use always amazes me… The colors just pop off the page!
After looking at “The Snail” each child used collage techniques to create their own snails. The little artists tore paper into itty bitty pieces and glued them all over the place! Some of their pieces look more like snails than others… but really the end result isn’t the beauty in children’s art. It’s all about the process: teaching them about art, through art, to love art… The final pieces are just icing on the art cake!