Have you visited an art museum (or gallery) with your kids recently? Both my nine-year-old and (almost) five-year-old daughters love it when I suggest we head into the city to visit one. It's not only a great way to engage your child with different art forms and creativity, the right activities can make your visit a wonderful opportunity for literacy learning. Here's five suggestions to get you and your child started.
1. Talk About Art
As you look at the artwork, be sure to have your child read the title cards of any works that particularly capture her interest. Ask questions to encourage her to share her thoughts and feelings about the piece, such as:
- What does this artwork remind you of?
- Why do you think the artist called it ____?
- What title would you have given it, if this was your artwork?
- How does this artwork make you feel?
- What do you like most about it?
- Can you think of five words to describe this artwork?
- If you were to sit and write a story about this artwork, what would the story be about?
2. Hand Over the Camera
Encouraging your child to take photos or record video snippets during your visit can provide fabulous insight into what he finds most interesting. (Just be sure to check the museum rules before beginning — many do not allow flash photography.)
Following your visit, print the photos to use in a writing activity, such as:
- Creating a small scrapbook about his visit, and encouraging your child to caption each photo.
- Choosing one photo to use as a creative story writing prompt.
- Printing a postcard to send to a friend or family member by writing about his visit to the art museum.
If your family ventures to the art museum pretty regularly, you might try setting a theme or challenge for your next visit. For example, you can suggest that your child find and photograph four blue artworks, the five smallest — or three that make him feel a specific emotion, such as happiness or sadness. Once back home again, your child can talk or write about why he chose each piece in his collection.
3. Write a Letter of Thanks
Follow up your visit by having your child write a thank-you note to the museum staff. If your child is too young to write, you can be the one to write her recollections down for her, and invite her to add a drawing and her name to the thank-you note.
4. Write (or Draw) On the Go
Take a journal and a few pencils to the museum to allow your child to record his impressions right away, either through sketching or writing. If your child is looking for guidance, you could suggest he:
- Write a list of descriptive words about an artwork he feels strongly about.
- Write a title and caption for a chosen artwork.
- Create a short story inspired by an artwork.
5. Collect a Venue Map, Brochures, and Exhibition Guidebooks
Maps, brochures, and guidebooks can serve as helpful resources to your child to recall the visit and encourage her to talk about what she found most interesting or enjoyable. They're also great ways to practice reading.