Discover & explore for grade schoolers: Virtual, at-home art activities

By Children’s Librarian Genevieve Grove

While we live very close to one of the most well-known art museums in the world, you don’t need to leave Oak Park, or even your desk, to experience art! Here are a couple of fun resources to explore and use to make your own art, too.

Try these activities

Art Institute coloring book page

Color a masterpiece

The Art Institute of Chicago has a variety of family activities on their website, including coloring pages of some of their most famous paintings, creative writing prompts, and more. 

Mini mural by Ann Farrell

Tour the railroad embankment murals of Oak Park

Since 2010, the Oak Park Arts Council has invited artists to paint murals along the north and south sides of the railroad that runs south of Lake Street. You might recognize the work of some of the artists from pieces hanging in our library buildings, too! Tour the murals virtually and find out more about the program. The mural shown here was painted by one of the library’s talented staff, Ann Farrell.

How to draw a cardinal

Draw a cardinal

One of my favorite artists is Charley Harper, who specialized in depicting nature and animals in a whimsical, simplified form. Cardinals are perfect little spots of color in our winter landscape; try drawing one of your own using this easy guide (pictured) from Oak Park Elementary School District 97 Henry Wadsworth Longfellow School art teacher Ms. Raia.

I like what Charley Harper said about his process:  “When you look at my work, remember that I didn’t start out to paint a bird—the bird already existed. I started out to paint a picture of a bird, a picture which didn’t exist before I came along, a picture which gives me a chance to share with you my thoughts about the bird. Once you accept this seemingly simplistic but really quite profound premise, you will appreciate many varied approaches to the making of pictures, all of which start where realism leaves off, but all of which require an understanding of realism for their successful execution.” 

Nature brushes

Try design activities from the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust

Oak Park’s most famous architect left a lasting impression on design worldwide! The Frank Lloyd Wright Trust has lots of wonderful ways to explore design from home, like architectural bird feeders, DIY nature brushes, and an Eye Spy game for architectural details. Grab your boots and mittens and get outside to see what you can spot!

Rainbow by Aga, age 10, Poland. Made in Street Art.

Play art games

While some public art is coordinated with local businesses and government agencies, we can also find many amazing examples of street art around the Chicago area. Are you ready to try your own hand at designing with spray paint and stickers? It’s one of the many art games you can play on the website for the Tate Museum in the UK. 

Here’s to letting your creativity flow and soaking up art and beauty all around us!

Genevieve Grove

About Genevieve

Genevieve is a Children’s Librarian who’s constantly on the hunt for great graphic novels, innovative ways to get books into kids’ homes, and the perfect cookie recipe. She’s pretty sure that none of those missions will ever feel “finished,” and that’s just fine by her.

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