• Books and photographs of still life paintings by famous artists including In the Garden with Vincent Van Gogh or Magical Day with Matisse, both by Julie Merberg
  • Large white paper
  • Colored pencils, markers, and craypas
  • Tempera paint and brushes
  • Smocks
  • Still life materials such as a vase and fresh flowers, tablecloth, fruit bowl, baskets, fresh fruit, dolls, trucks, and blocks


Developing Skills

  • Observation
  • Fine motor
  • Aesthetics
  • Creative thinking
  • Language



1. Collect books or photographs of still life paintings done by artists with varying styles like Vincent Van Gogh, Henri Matisse, and Pablo Picasso. Engage children in a discussion about what they see, what they like, and the different ways artists use color in their work. Discuss how artists have specific styles and that it's okay if it doesn't always look like the real object.

2. Explain that when an artist paints a picture of objects, such as flowers in a vase or a bowl of fruit, it's called a "still life." Inform children that they will make their own still life drawings and paintings.

3. Cover a table with a tablecloth or a nice piece of fabric and place a colorful fresh flower arrangement in a vase on the table. Invite a few children at a time to work on their still lifes. Offer them large white paper and a variety of art materials to use to draw or paint their art. Encourage them to work at their own pace and select the materials with which they would like to work.

4. Over the next few days, create different still life settings for children to draw or paint. These can include fresh fruit and colorful bowls or baskets, or a variety of interesting toys or objects.

5. Each day, bring children together to share their work. Encourage them to talk about the process, and help them notice how their work is unique. Find an area to display their work.

6. Extend the activity by focusing on one still life set-up and suggest that children change materials over the course of several days, using different mediums including paint, craypas, colored pencils, colored chalk, or even torn paper collages.

Remember: Providing children with interesting things to draw and aesthetically pleasing paint mixtures will enhance their experiences.

Curriculum Connection

Literacy: My Favorite Painting
Provide children with several books on famous artists and invite them to choose a favorite painting. Then photocopy their favorite painting and invite them to dictate and record their thoughts.


Related Books