Getting creative with your children doesn’t need to involve lots of preparation and expensive resources. In this post I’m going to show you some great ideas to explore art through the work of the artist Kandinsky. If you’d like to find out a little more about Kandinsky this is a good article from the Tate.
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There’s so many lovely ways to explore Kandinsky with little ones and a great opportunity to explore colours, shape and size. All of these being early learning concepts for young children.
Kandinsky had synaesthesia; something I find really fascinating. Synaesthesia from the Greek ‘syn’ – join and ‘aisthesis’ – perception. It’s a neurological phenomenon of blending of the senses (joined perception) where some people can feel sounds, taste shapes or hear colours. Kandinsky could see colours when he listened to music and when he painted he could hear music.
With this in mind it is not hard to understand why some of his works had musical titles such as the one above Composition VIII from 1923. Wouldn’t it be magical to hear what he heard when he painted this?
Kandinsky Inspired Art and Craft Activities for Kids
There’s hopefully something in here for all ages. So here’s some of my ideas (feel free to interpret them however you like). Do tag me on social media if you use any of the ideas – I’d love to see – #busybusylearning
Play a Painting
This is a great activity for any age and it doesn’t matter if you don’t have any instruments because the home is a great place to make some. Pots and pans, elastic band around tubs, natural resources in jars and tubes – so many possibilities.
Take one of Kandinsky’s paintings such as Yellow, Red, Blue (1925) below and ‘play’ the music. What sort of sound would that part of the painting make? How loud might that colour play?
Paper Circles or Square Composition
Super quick and simple to set up. Cut (or if your child is old enough they can cut their own) circles and/ or squares of various sizes and colours. If you don’t have coloured paper you could use empty packets, old magazines or colour plain paper.
Then let them have a go at making different compositions with the shapes. We really enjoyed using kite paper as it made interesting shapes and colours when we layered the shapes on each other. You could then stick your compositions in a window for the sunshine to shine through.
Below you’ll find a great, short video of children of different ages working on a Kandinsky concentric circles project. It’s lovely to see how different each child’s composition is when given the same stimulus.
Felt/ Fabric Circle Tree
Again, you don’t need to buy anything specific. You could use oddments of fabric or felt you’ve got or old clothes. Maybe an old shirt and add your own designs to the cut out pieces. Children can then arrange and rearrange the fabric.
Little ones could help to arrange circles on a ‘tree’ or just keep it abstract. Older children could then do some simple stitching or embroidery to attach the circles onto another piece of fabric such as a bag or pillowcase. Little ones could use glue.
For a much bigger challenge for teens they could find out which stack has the largest total area by finding the area of each circle and adding together.
Not sure if it’s just me, but we have lots of buttons. I’m like a magpie with them and have to keep them all! Having a selection of different sizes and shapes of buttons is ideal for this craft . You could glue the buttons down, but we normally just make things on a little tray and then put them all back in the box when we’ve finished.
Again, older children could stitch their buttons onto a piece of felt or fabric. Whether just placing and clearing after, gluing or stitching these are all great fine motor co-ordinating activities.
I love playdough for developing fine motor skills. It’s amazing to see how long children can be immersed in play with dough, it’s so therapeutic! Dough play is a great one for when you have a play date too.
So, for this one it depends on the age of your little one. Very young ones – get different colours of dough and make a ball of dough out of each colour, each one getting a bit bigger each time. Then let your little one squish them one on top of the other. Older children can make their own balls, patterns and compositions. The video below is Floss at around 3.5 years old. Squishing playdough never gets old!
Rock art is so popular right now and you’ll often find a painted rock somewhere near where you live if you keep your eyes open. You can use lots of different resources to decorate your stones, but you’ll need to seal if you’ve used something that won’t withstand the weather.
You will need a weaving frame for this one – or you could do a more DIY weaving activity such as in this post. You could make Kandinsky inspired coasters or placemats depending upon the size of the weaving frame.
Using empty packages that are circles or you could use other shapes, turn them into stampers by dipping them in paint and making your composition. Might be a nice thing to do on a large piece of paper such as left over wallpaper.
Loose Parts Composition
This was a brilliant activity that kept our three year old busy for ages. She loved me holding her over it to take photos too. Gather together a collection of loose parts. They could be toys, natural materials or tins and packages from the kitchen.
We used some of our loose parts toys
Talking to Children About Their Art
I hope this post has given you some ideas for exploring the artist Kandinsky. Something always to have in mind when children are exploring art is being careful about the words we use when children are creating and showcasing a piece they have made.
What do I mean?
It can be really easy when we’re busy to make a quick comment on something our children have produced – ‘That looks amazing’. The problem with this is how will they feel if the next time they show us something we say ‘that’s nice’. Unintentionally, we’re making judgements on what they have produced. Our children may wonder what about this piece wasn’t amazing.
Talking about the process and getting children to discuss their art is so much more valuable and leaves them feeling ready to get more creative. Yes, it is going to take a little longer than the ‘amazing’, ‘wonderful’, ‘great’ remarks, however, it’s worth taking that extra couple of minutes.
If you really haven’t got time it’s better to say something along the lines of – ‘I can’t look right now, but when I’m finished doing this we’ll sit down together and you can tell me all about it’.
What Can You Say?
Here’s some ideas of what you can say. You can just say one of them or a few. It’s a brilliant way for children to develop their language skills too.
- Tell me about your picture – this is such an important one – even if it looks exactly like a rabbit – it might not be a rabbit! Let them tell you.
- You worked so carefully making this picture.
- Tell me about this part…
- What’s your favourite part?
- What did you use?
- How did you make this part?
- What made you choose this colour?
- What might you like to do differently next time?
There’s a great book about process art for children that you might like to check out – Art Workshop. It’s really important for children not to just focus on an end product and this book gives lots of ideas how we can help them be immersed in the process of art.