Planning An Art Curriculum For A Gifted Kindergartener


Color-project PDF Free Printable

After a field trip that included a trip to a local artists’ collective, the Engineer thoughtfully announced that he wanted to study “more art.”  Cue the scramble and freak-out from mommy.

Most kindergartener are doing basic art.  Hand print turkeys, thumbprint flowers, smily faces and stick figures.  It’s fun, it’s messy: part of growing up.  When the Engineer said “art,” he definitely didn’t mean hand print turkeys.  He would say thumb print flowers were stupid.  No, he wants to make art like what he saw at the studios we walked through.

Relief printing, metal sculptures, and giant canvases swirling in color.  Tiny metal figures in their own world, encased in plexiglass and mounted under the stairwell.  Giant metal fish swimming on the wall.  Life-sized sculptures of animals.  Abstract blots of color in tiny squares.  That kind of art.

On one hand, I’m excited.  On the other hand, I’m completely dismayed.

I am an artist.  I have a degree in art, I spent my time pre-kids living and breathing my art.  I know this stuff.  And because I know it, I’m concerned about how to present it to my son who is 5-years-old.   I’m worried that I won’t be able to give him the big picture because I’m so engrossed by the little details.

I’m also really concerned about how to present art in a way that doesn’t sanitize it, but that is age-appropriate.  Art isn’t just about beauty, it’s about social change and exposing the ugly underbelly of our lives.  It’s about truth.

How am I supposed to teach him about an artist who sprinkles nudes through their work?  Pick and chose the nude-free ones?  Teach him about nudes at the tender age of five?  Either choice isn’t a great one.  Plus, how do I even explain the concept of nudes to a 5-year-old?  The artist version involves glorying in the magnificence of the human body – the layman version says “sexist pervert.”  Do I delve into the concept of Otherness at this age because it requires an explanation to understand the art?  His anxieties make these decisions much more important.

Intellectually, he’s ready for a lot of these concepts.  Developmentally, not so much.

For now, we’re starting with a solid foundation of terms and techniques.  We’ll learn about Matisse’s collage work instead of his nudes.  We’ll study brushwork by Impressionists instead of focusing on the concept of Otherness (although Impressionists are probably the least objectionable of the lot.)  We’ll look at Lewis Hines’ photographs of children working in factories and discuss how art can be used to change society in a good way.  I’ll show him surrealism and let him see that a photograph can’t be trusted to represent truth.  We’ll learn about street art, graffiti art, and art installations.

I’m super excited to share some of the really cool stuff I know he’ll love.  He’s already done photograms, relief printing, and mixed media pictures.  It’s going to be a fun ride!


I’m still in the planning stages, but here’s a brief breakdown of what I’m planning on doing.  Each link either shows the artist’s work or an idea for a project:

All about colorpdf link for a free printable on color wheels and color schemes.

Major art techniques: sculpture, drawing, printmaking, painting (and types of paint) and photography.  Go here for free art lessons in various techniques.

Matisse: making collage cutouts

Andrew Wyeth: the use of negative space and a kid-friendly version.

Van Gogh: making a still life image and drawing it.

Mondrian: geometric art and our version with tape lines.

Monet: impressionism painting, and doing our own version.

Picasso: cubism and doing our own version.

Seurat: Pointillism (art version of dpi) marker project.

Kandinsky: abstract art and our own version.

Pollock: Drip painting – I doubt I need a link for our version.  Just use lots of tarps because splatter goes everywhere!

Concept of self-portrait: Van Gogh, Durer, and Picasso as examples. (note: Durer’s work is excruciatingly detailed in things kids shouldn’t see.  Self-portaits and animal studies are kid-friendly.  The Picasso link includes a cubist nude at age 85, far down the page.)

Street art and installation art: Jan Vorman, DALeast, Toshiko Horiuchi and making our own outside.  Probably balanced stone sculptures, as he saw this video about it and was excited.

Sculpture: modeling clay coil and slab container, or plaster of paris balloon sculpture if I get adventurous.

Revisit relief printing: styrofoam prints.

I’m sure I’ll be adding to this list as we complete projects, get new ideas, and go off on numerous rabbit trails.  That’s how we do things around here!




  1. Hi there! This is my first comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and tell you I genuinely enjoy reading through your blog posts. Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that cover the same subjects? Thanks for your time!


  2. This is such a big fear of mine, as well. I understand your freak out and scramble moment well. My 4 year old decided he needed to do more “Science” last year. I was able to find age appropriate experiments and explanations. He just told me last week he wanted to do more “art”. For now we are focusing on the mechanics, because I was scrambling and we were just coming off his science binge. Your list is super helpful, and I look forward to reading about the progress.


  3. THANK YOU for writing this! I am also an artist, and homeschooling a gifted 3 year old who is working well into the elementary school years in most areas. Lately he really wants to know all about what I do and participate. Most people would think this would be the easiest thing for me to teach him, but I also freak out when I think about how to break it down! I am SO glad to hear another artist say this! And thank you so much for the plan outline, I think it will help a lot.


    • I’m glad I can help! My kid does really well with hands-on stuff, so my plan revolves around that. It leaves a lot for later too, which is good when he wants to delve deeper into something. Good luck, and have fun!


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