Picture Study – Monet’s “Haystacks”

The Abundant Garden: Growing Quality Kids Through Gardening by Kinderfarmhomeschool.comImage courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Picture Study – Monet’s “Haystacks”: an activity for children of all ages. When Monet wasn’t painting, you could probably find him in his garden. Gardening and painting were his passions. Monet painted his “Haystacks” series in a variety of seasons. In this activity, children will learn about Monet and how to better appreciate and understand impressionistic art.

*This activity was adapated from an activity found in Monet and the Impressionists for Kids: Their Lives and Ideas by Carol Sabbeth.

  • Supplies:
  • For a young child (ages 4-6): Read one (or more) of the following recommended books:
    • Monet’s Impressions by The Metropolitan Museum of Art – highly recommended for children ages 3-8 (not much in text but the illustrations, although unfortunately cropped, are beautiful). (R)
    • A Picnic with Monet by Julie Merberg – recommended for children ages 2-4. (R)
  • Have your child narrate the story back to you in their own words. (You may decide to read a short passage and then have them narrate rather than retelling the entire story.)
  • Use the coloring book, Dover Masterworks: Color Your Own Monet Paintings and allow your child time to color/paint the picture OR have a child paint their own picture (see below).
  • For an older child (ages 6 and up): Read one (or more) of the following recommended books:
    • Linnea in Monet’s Garden by Christina Bjork – highly recommended for children ages 9-12 (please note that at the end of the book there is mention of a child out of wedlock and a live-in female companion). (R)
    • Who Was Claude Monet? by Ann Waldron – recommended for children ages 8-12 (please note: this book is very informative however there is a sketch of the back of a topless female model and mention of Claude and his girlfriend living together and having a child out of wedlock. Consider editing this book while reading it to your child). (R)
    • Monet by Mike Venezia – recommended for children ages 7-10. (R)
    • The Magical Garden of Claude Monet by Laurence Anholt – highly recommended for children ages 6-10. (R)
    • Monet Paints a Day by Julie Danneberg – recommended for children ages 6-9. (R)
    • Claude Monet: The Painter Who Stopped the Trains by P.I. Maltbie – recommended for children ages 6-9. (R)
  • Have your child narrate Monet’s story back to you in their own words. (You may decide to read a short passage and then have them narrate rather than retelling the entire story.)
  • Print the picture, Haystacks, Snow Effect from Wikimedia.org. Laminate or put in a page protector as desired. Consider looking at the series of “Haystack” paintings in the different
  • seasons to compare and contrast.
  • Discuss the picture. Ask the child some of the following questions, making sure not to impose your own feelings/interpretations:
    • Why is this painting called “Impressionistic”?
    • What was Monet famous for painting? (varying perspectives of light!)
    • What did you see in the picture?
    • What does the picture smell like? Can you smell the hay wet from the snow?
    • Did you like the picture?
    • How does this pictures make you feel?
    • Notice the shadows. Where was the sun in relation to the haystack?
    • If you could name this picture, what title would you choose?
    • What colors did you like in the painting?
    • For more questions, visit artjunction.org and/or artcuratorforkids.com.
  • To learn more about changing light, place an object (such as a cup) on a piece of paper and use a flashlight to see how the shadow changes as you move it around the object. This is how the sun hit Monet’s haystack as he painted it during the seasons. You can also choose to go outside and paint an object at different times of the day, using different angles of the the sun to create natural shadows.
  • When you find an angle you like, trace the shape of the shadow with a pencil.
  • Draw Monet’s “Haystack” making sure to focus on the light and shadows.
  • Use complementary colors to color in the shadow. Monet often painted the shadow using it’s complementary color. (Wikipedia defines complementary colors as, “pairs of colors which, when combined, cancel each other out. This means that when combined, they produce a gray-scale color like white or black. When placed next to each other, they create the strongest contrast for those particular two colors. Due to this striking color clash, the term opposite colors is often considered more appropriate than “complementary colors…. Complementary color pairs are red–green, yellow–purple, and blue–orange.”
  • Include the books read on the page (or on the back).
  • Place the page(s) in a protector when finished and include them in the garden or art appreciation notebook/journal.
  • Take pictures and tag #theabundantgarden on Instagram to share your fun and for an opportunity to be featured @theabundantgarden.