I think Van Gogh is an amazing artist to study – especially for kids. His artwork is well known and beautiful and most kids probably already know him by name – even if they cannot name his artwork.
This Van Gogh unit study is meant to introduce kids to his artwork and make art history an appealing topic.
The Vincent Van Gogh Unit Study
Van Gogh is one of my favorite artists. His works evoke strong emotions and I love the color and intensity in them.
But the real reason I wanted to do a Van Gogh unit study for kids is because he’s such a great introduction to art.
Starry Night is one of the most recognizable pieces of art today – and that’s especially true for kids.
And unlike many other art pieces from history – it doesn’t involve war or nudity.
What’s in the Van Gogh Unit Study
This unit study covers some basic information about Van Gogh and includes two hands-on activities related to his art.
First, there is a booklet that discusses facts like where he was born, etc. But it also has some fill-in-the-blank areas. This is meant to be a research exercise for your kids. It’s not just a booklet to read.
Make sure to use reputable and kid friendly sources to fill this information out.
There’s also a word search that includes some common vocabulary for Van Gogh.
Next we have a timeline of Van Gogh’s life. There are two versions of the timeline – one where you fill it out all on your own and another with premade boxes and pieces to glue on.
Neither version is better or right – just use the one that works best for your family.
The timeline events include some big parts of Van Gogh’s life including when he painted some of his most popular pieces of work.
However, I didn’t include much of his struggle with mental health. Because he died to suicide I didn’t want to focus on his mental health struggles.
Also, he is well known for having cut off part of his ear which I find not great. He made many amazing pieces of art. And I think his struggle with mental health should be known. But the part where he cuts of his ear is almost known as a joke and not a sign that needed help.
If you have older kids learning about Van Gogh, I absolutely think you should include some information about his mental health. I’d focus on how most of his artwork was made during periods in which he was getting help.
But do know that this unit study does not delve into that aspect of Van Gogh’s life.
Finally there are two activities that are hands-on and focus specifically on Van Gogh’s artwork. The first is a ‘shapes in art’ study using Van Gogh’s Flowers painting.
The second is a self-portrait activity, since Van Gogh is well known for the sheer amount of self-portraits he painted.
I’ve also included a coloring page of Starry Night because I couldn’t resist. It’s such a fun painting and I love how you can almost see the movement in a still photo.
Lastly there are two copywork pages with quotes from Van Gogh.
Vincent Van Gogh Books
I love including books in unit studies. In fact, sometimes I like to do unit studies only to have an excuse to collect the books.
And I think studying artists with books is absolutely vital. We need to see their art in vivid detail. So these are some great books about Vincent Van Gogh.