Artfully Montessori: Having Fun With Dots And The Study of Yayoi Kusama

MONTESSORI CHILDREN TAKE THE FUN OF ART SERIOUSLY! How about an "interview" with a famous artist, complete with paint palette, beret and microphone!

Last week when I was teaching music in one of the Montessori preschool classrooms, I discovered a famous artist that I wasn't acquainted with: Yayoi Kusama. This group had been studying about the artist and had a display of their own art work based on Kusama's art style. As you can see from the youtube video below, the artist is obsessed with polka dots...what could be more appealing to young children! 

This Montessori group has really been having fun creating their own dot art after learning about Yayoi's work:

This study of Yayoi Kusama reminded me of one of the favorite activities I learned during my AMS training, many years ago. Sarah Zimmerman, who is an icon in the "Montessori world" of the San Francisco Bay Area, is also one of my mentors and I am so fortunate to have studied with her!

She taught me the following activity.

  • After introducing the children to a new artist (or composer!) you can conduct an "interview" with the artist. You will need to explain to the children what an interview is! 
  • I like to use a toy microphone and have the child dress up with an artist's beret or some sheet music if s/he is a famous composer.
  • Next, I ask the child a question that can be answered with a "Yes" or "No"
  • For Yayoi Kusama it might go something like this:
Me: "Today, I am here interviewing the famous artist, Yayoi Kusama. Yayoi, is it true you love polka dots?"

Child: "Yes."

Me: "Were you born in the United States?"

Child: "No."

Me: "Were you born in Japan?" 

Child: "Yes."

Me: "Did you make your first dot picture when you were 10 yrs old?"

Child: "Yes."

Me: "Do you like to paint polka dots on everything?"

Child: "Yes."

Me: "Do you like to paint with water colors?"

Child: "Yes."

Me: "What is your favorite color?"

Child: (This answer can be left up to the child!)

Me: "Thank you very much for this interview, Yayoi."

Child: "Your welcome."

I have offered this lesson, often, to my groups when I was a teacher in the Montessori classroom and I always started out with one of the older children playing the role of the famous artist. 

You can also "role play" the interview, first with your co-teacher, then with a child volunteer. 

Later, you can set up the microphone and props (artist's beret, etc) in a basket and place it on the shelf for the children to work with during work time.

My groups have always had a lot of fun with this activity and learned a little about the artist too!

You can read more about Yayoi at this link: Wikipedia

It's wonderful to have you visiting my blog today and I hope you found something interesting to offer your own group!

My article is part of a wonderful linkup at Living Montessori Now where you'll find lots of resources and many are free! Here is that link: Montessori Monday.

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