Cool After School: Look! Look! Look!-ing at Art

by Vicky on November 30, 2010

Our November 10 Cool After School program was inspired by the book, Look! Look! Look!, written and illustrated by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace, with Linda K. Friedlaender.

Full disclosure: my ongoing interest in teaching kids how to look at and talk about art stems from my experience as a college librarian.  Every semester we were besieged with frantic students panicked by an assignment that asked them to look at a piece of art and then describe it in their own words. 

My conclusion is that we need to start getting kids accustomed to doing this when they are young, and then keep them doing it so they don’t find it such a terrifying and alienating experience when they get to college and beyond.

In this delightful and deceptively simple book, a family of mice borrow a postcard that arrives in the post for the vacationing humans.  Kiki, Alexander, and Kat take turns using different methods to look at the Tudor portrait depicted on the front of the card, and then they use this information to begin interacting with the painting by creating different versions of their own, derived from the original image.  Through their analysis and investigations, art vocabulary is painlessly introduced.

I decided to pick two male portraits from the same period and get the kids to play with them using some of the same exercises in the book.  With the help of a couple of mothers, who got excited about the exercises and helped get their sons intererested too, it went surprisingly well.   After looking for simple geometric shapes within the two compositions, we attempted to make our own versions using the shapes.

One thing is certain, the kids enjoyed creating their own compositions!

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