Art Smart

Van Gogh's Sunflowers

Ideal for Preschool/Pre-K, School-Age

A paint brush mixes paint on a wooden hand-paint-pallet.

This activity promotes development and learning by encouraging children to maintain focus and sustain attention.

Materials Needed:

Participants: This activity is intended for independent play, adult/child interaction, or 2 or more participants/players.


  1. Show your child an image of Vincent Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers.” Ask your child to observe closely. Put the painting away and see how many details your child can remember.
  2. Depending on your child’s interest, offer some information about Van Gogh and the paintings. Van Gogh painted a series of five sunflower paintings while in Arles, France between 1888 and 1889. He used only three shades of yellow for the paintings. For him, the paintings represented gratitude.
  3. Offer some paint and thick paper, as well as some flowers from your own yard. If real flowers are unavailable, show Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings as a model. Encourage your child to look closely and carefully at the shapes of the flowers, as well as the light and shadow. Ask her to paint what she sees. Van Gogh did five paintings of sunflowers at different times of the day, in different light. You could try this too. How does the light change what you see?

Learn More: Plant some sunflowers in your yard or try drawing and painting other objects from nature. Learn more about Vincent Van Gogh’s art or read “Camille and the Sunflowers” by Laurence Anholt.

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