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Kindergarten Art Appreciation: Mother and Child

mother and child paintings

I am launching a weekly art appreciation post on Artchoo. I am currently transferring my kids’ school’s Art Appreciation for Kids program from typed-out pages to Power Point presentations, and I thought these would be a fantastic resource for parents and art teachers to have access to. We’ll start with kindergarten art appreciation.

kindergarten art appreciation •

This first presentation is titled Mother & Child, and focuses on introducing the idea of color within artwork to kids. If you’d like to download the powerpoint presentation, click here: K-Motherandchild. Otherwise, you can read through the presentation below and then invite your kids over to your computer and start talking art!


mother and child paintings - kindergarten art appreciation

The Bath, Mary Cassatt, 1891-92, Art Institute of Chicago
On The Terrace, Pierre Auguste Renoir, 1881, Art Institute of Chicago
 image sources: The Bath, On the Terrace


Give the children a few moments to look at these. Identify the paintings by name. Ask the children to name some things they see in both paintings (mother, child, flowers, the use of color, shapes, and lines, etc.)

Explain that artists often paint similar subjects, but that each artist paints a subject in his or her own way. Have the children point out some of the differences between the two reprints. (One is an indoor scene; the other outdoors. In one, The Bath, the mother and child seem unaware of the artist; they are concerned only with each other; we are looking down on them. In On The Terrace, the mother and child seem to be posing for the artist and are looking right at us.

The brushstrokes are quite different: The Bath is very smooth and blended; On The Terrace contains quickly painted dabs of color, especially in the basket and in the background. Ask the children to try to determine when the paintings were painted (approximately 100 years ago) and how they can tell (by the clothing; the use of a bowl and pitcher for bathing). Ask them how this is the same or different than the way we do things today. Explain that by looking at works of art we can often determine how people lived in the past.

Introducing the element of art, color:

Explain that all artists, even the children themselves, make use of color in their artworks.

Have the children look at On The Terrace and identify the colors that the artist used. The red hat is not only red, but contains white, black, and orange. This same red is repeated in the girl’s hat and in the basket. The blue of the woman’s dress (even though darker) is similar to the blue in the flowers of the girl’s hat and collar, and the blues in the basket, water, and background mountains. The railing and the barrel (lower right) are a similar blue/green. The green in the basket is repeated in the leaves of the trees.

Help the children to understand that the artist chose these colors and repeated them throughout the painting because the colors looked pleasing together and made a beautiful color composition.

Direct the children to look at The Bath and to identify the colors that the artist used in the mother’s dress. The dress is made up of a beautiful pattern of stripes: green, white, purple, green white, purple. Ask the children to point out where else in the painting they see these same colors. The green in the dress is seen in the rug, in the wallpaper, and in the dresser behind the mother and child. White is seen in the pitcher, the child’s towel, the wash bowl, the skin tones, and in the flowers of the dresser. Purple is seen in the rim of the wash bowl and in the wallpaper.

Ask the children to name the colors of the flowers on the pitcher (red and blue). Where else do they see this same red and blue? The red is used in the rug and the blue shows up as water in the bowl. Remind the children that when mixed together, red and blue make purple, the same purple in the dress. Help the children to understand that the artist chose these colors and repeated them throughout the painting because the colors looked pleasing together and made a beautiful color composition.

Background Information (For the presenter):

All artists make use of color, shape, and line in their artworks. These are called the elements of art. The element of art discussed in this program is called color. In kindergarten the children should be able to name and identify the basic colors (red, blue, yellow, orange, green, purple, white, black, brown).

Most artists work with a ‘limited pallet’, meaning they will use just a few colors (3 to 6) and blend all their colors for a particular painting from these few colors. This may be too complex to explain to the children. But with that information in mind, we can make the children see the basic colors and variation of those colors repeated throughout the painting. They will gradually come to understand how the artist uses color. The artist doesn’t get out all the colors and go crazy. The artist carefully chooses a few colors that work well together. By controlling the blending of those colors and by controlling the amount of each color on the canvas, the artist produces a color composition that is understandable, sets a certain mood, and is pleasing to the eye. The artist chooses the colors, just like choosing the subject matter or the type of material that is used.


We make choices in the morning about the color of clothes that we put on; we want to wear colors that go together. Ask the children about the color combinations that they like to wear. Are there some colors that do not go together? The artist makes choices, too, in the colors that are used in a painting. We all have favorite colors; ask the children about theirs and why they like those colors.


You know what’s cool? I found a Mary Cassatt coloring book! And it includes The Bath. How fun would it be to study the painting with your kids and then let them color their own based on what they learned about color?!

Mary Cassatt coloring book #arthistoryforkids

Here are the rest of the K-5Art History for Kids presentations. I will update them weekly, so check back every Friday!

What do you think?

Written by Joanne Gonzales

Joanne Gonzales has a passion for getting creative. Whether she is making personalized DIY gifts or taking part in larger arts and crafts projects, she puts her all into making new and beautiful things.

She lives with a group of close friends and believes in the natural way of life. Joanne has built an outdoor arts and crafts gallery that overlooks the countryside in her hometown, which is where all of her creations come to life.

Art started off as a hobby, but over time Joanne has mastered her skills and sold some of her favorite pieces. She works full time as a florist and has done for many years. It helps keep her creative juices flowing and she hopes to one day open her own florist shop with a twist.


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  1. I love this for a new series on your blog! We did a art project this afternoon and I told the boys about the artist I based it on and their eyes glazed over. I def. need some idea how to talk about art. (All will be revealed next week!)

    • Ooooh, foreshadowing! Can’t wait. I guess you just never know when kids will be interested in something. Especially when you really want them to be interested in something and they’re just not buying it. 🙂

  2. This is better than Sister Wendy!! Love this guide to make it easy to make art fun. I shall try it with my son who usually makes us cut our art museum visits short!

  3. My son says, “I noticed that one of the people in On The Terrace was more sketchy than the other but I did not notice that the people in On The Terrace were posing and the people in The Bath were not.”

    He liked this post a lot!

  4. Hi Jeanette

    Wow! I love this. Thanks so much for volunteering to be art docent, and thanks for sharing you program with us. I look forward to your posts and Powerpoints.
    (p.s. My first art ‘job’ was art docent at my son’s elementary school)

    • Oh, that’s so cool to hear that you started out as a volunteer! I love doing it- the first time I went in I was so nervous, and by the end I was flying! I think it’s such a great program, and it’s the kind of thing so many people can benefit from.

    • Oh, that looks like a really good book- I’ll have to give it a read. Tomorrow I’m typing up a 2nd grade presentation on ‘Interiors’. I did this one with my daughter’s class when she was in 2nd grade and they loved it! It was so fun.

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