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Claude Monet • Introducing The World's Greatest Artists 🎨 Series

Today, we are continuing our art-unit study "Introducing The World's Greatest Artists 🎨 Series." Among the greatest of the Impressionists, French painter Oscar-Claude Monet (born November 14, 1840 -1926) was the artist whose painting Impression: Sunrise (1872) gave the Impressionist art movement its name. Monet brought painting out-of-doors so that artists could record their impressions directly from nature. While painting outside, Monet attempted to recreate the effect of light and shifting color, the technique which proved very influential to other artists. Since colors change according to the light (a gray day looks very different compared to the bright sunlight and a cool light of a dawn is very different than a warm light of the evening), Monet wanted to record that fleeting impression of a particular moment. The sparkle of light, dancing colors, the interplay between sun and shadow were the impressions that Monet wanted to perpetuate.

“For me, a landscape does not exist in its own right since its appearance changes at every moment; but the surrounding atmosphere brings it to life - the light and the air which vary continually. For me, it is only the surrounding atmosphere which gives subjects their true value.” - Claude Monet, 1890.


We started by reading 13 Artists Children Should Know book (buy here). Heavily illustrated and featuring the world's greatest painters, the book offers an excellent introduction to famous artists and their works. Artists are arranged chronologically, accompanied by a timeline, which offers helpful historical context. Each artist’s entry includes a concise biography, beautiful reproductions of major works, and lively simple texts that appeal directly to young readers. 

Thereafter, to get more familiar with Impressionism, Adrian (40 months) put together Claude Monet Water Lillies puzzle 24pc (buy here). The box says 3 yrs+ however, pieces are very similar looking, which might prove challenging for smaller children. Without referring to the picture on the box, it took Adrian a little less than ten minutes to finish the puzzle. Only a few months ago, he had to recruit Julia's help to assemble similar puzzles: The Starry Night and Sunflowers. 

DSC_0002"Hop on a horse when lunch is done, and take a ride in the afternoon sun."

To introduce Claude Monet, Picnic with Monet book (buy here) is simple and boasts with colorful full-page reproductions, accompanied by a simple four-line playful rhyming text. This board book is a fun way to introduce fine art to smaller children. Adrian has been enjoying this book since he was one year old. What child would not want to go on an enchanted picnic in a country-side, or see a steam train at a train station: "All aboard! clickety-clack, out of the station and down the track." 


To learn more about Claude Monet's life, Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists is a wonderful series to introduce fine art and famous artists to a child. With primary sources, maps, timelines, photos and illustrations, book's engaging content helps children learn about notable artists of the past. The author uses cartoon-like illustrations and jokes to deliver complicated messages to a younger audience, and he does a great job! Claude Monet, Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists book (buy here)  has full-color reproductions of actual paintings and provides an entertaining and humorous detailed introduction to Claude Monet's artistic career. 


Adrian is fascinated with trains, so when I asked him what would he like to paint, he chose the train, of course. "All aboard! clickety-clack, out of the station and down the track" (buy the book here.) Adrian painted the train to resemble the one on Monet's Arrival to the Normandy Train,  (1877) painting using watercolor paints (buy here).

Claude Monte is most famous for capturing the transient effect of light on the particular subject-matter, often resulting in paintings that appear shimmer with light and color. He even created a series of studies of the same subject under different light conditions like Poplars, Haystacks, Water Lilies, etc.

DSC_0002Monet wanted to see how sunlight changes the look of something at different times of the day or different seasons of the year, like with a Haystacks or Water Lilies series. 
DSC_0002Monet painted several pictures of the cathedral in Rouen at various times of the day. The cathedral looks a different color each time. The sharp contours and hard surface of the stone are broken up into colored dots of light. 

We are also using Monet Paintings: 24 Art Cards (buy here), which I cut out and laminated for durability. These reproductions of his best paintings include The Artist's Garden at Giverny; The Water Lily Pond; Bathers at La Grenouillère; Venice at Dusk; Sailboats at Argenteuil; Jerusalem Artichokes; Still Life with Flowers and Fruit; The Hay Ricks, Late Summer, Giverny; and several other marvelous studies. We are using these cards for simple matching; the cards are also ideal for creating a miniature art gallery, or for sorting paintings into still life, portrait, and landscape categories. 


In Poppy Field Near Argenteuil (1873) painting, Monet used ❤️️red and 💚 green complementary colors to create an exceptionally radiant picture. The red seems even brighter when surrounded by green; doesn't it? 

DSC_0030See here "Art Project 🎨 inspired by Claude Monet's Poppy Field Near Argenteuil, 1873."

DSC_0045See here "🎂Happy Birthday Claude Monet•🎨Impressionism Inspired 🌸Irises in Monet's Garden." 

 For more on The World's Greatest Artists 🎨 Series, read here a post about Vincent van Gogh.

p.s. As a bilingual mother, I also try to introduce lessons in my native language. Дети очень любят Всемирную Картинную Галерею Тётушки Совы. Это серия "Развивающие мультфильмы Совы - художник Клод Моне."

International ❄️Polar 🐻Bear Day

International ❄️Polar🐻Bear Day is an annual event celebrated every February 27 to raise awareness about the conservation status of polar bears and the impact of global warming and reduced sea ice on polar bear population. So, we started our unit study by reading about polar bears and the dangers they are facing.  

DSC_0100See here Books📚 we are 📖reading for the International ❄️Polar 🐻Bear Day.

Polar bear ~ the world's largest carnivore, can grow up to nine feet tall (when standing) and 1400 pounds. Polar bears live at the North Pole region and are native to Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Norway, and Russia. It is believed that all polar bears are left handed!

After 📖 reading, we explored through sensory play. I strongly believe that sensory play is extremely important for children since by manipulating different textures, children trigger various senses. In turn, triggering sensory stimulation sends multiple signals between neurons, thus strengthening neuron-connectivity and spurring neuroplasticity (the production of new connections between neurons, even new neurons themselves). All of this inevitably induces brains' agility. Also, the clean up is minimal since everything is contained in a tub, tin, box, or any other container. 

DSC_0123 copy
We talked about the danger of ice in the Arctic ocean melting earlier each year, shortening polar bear's hunting season, and causing a shortage of food. Once the ice melts, the seals swim out to sea, making it harder to catch them. Sometimes polar bears have to swim out too far ~ some drown.
DSC_0123 copy

Stimulating tactile senses - the sense of🖐🏻 touch: the texture of water💦 jelly beads🌀(buy here) was slippery and "squishy", the ice felt cold, while insta-snow (non-toxic, and expandable once add water) felt "fluffy"(buy here). 

DSC_0123 copy As a result of this fun sensory activity, Adrian stimulated two senses:

  1. 👀  the sense of Sight/Visual sense, and
  2. 🖐🏻 the sense of Touch/Tactile sense

DSC_0123 copyRinged seals are polar bears' favorite food. 

DSC_0182A cub learns to hunt by observing his mother. 
DSC_0182Cubs live with their mother for two years, after that, she leaves them, ready to mate again and have more babies.

Through this sensory stimulatory-play, we learned a lot about polar 🐻bears, about dangers they are facing, and we also paused and thought what we can do to help them. "One drop💧raises the sea🌊," I tell my children: each and every one of us can make a difference, even if the difference seems small, even insignificant compared to the magnitude of 🌎global issues we are facing. But once we realize that we all share our home🏡 with every other living thing, and if we act respectfully to each other and conserve and cherish the resources which are finite, we can make a difference!

To prepare our❄️Polar 🐻 Bear sensory bin, we are using these amazing water jelly beads (buy here), which are nontoxic, biodegradable, and available in 3 colors: white, aqua, and blue. Once you add water, the dehydrated beads start to enlarge, and in few hours, they are fully expanded! 

DSC_0086Dehidrated hydrogels are tiny.
DSC_008620 minutes after adding water.
DSC_0086Few hours after adding water ~ hydrogels are fully expanded.
DSC_0086You can see the size comparison of dehydrated vs fully expanded beads. 

DSC_0166For more on Arctic region, see here ❄️Polar 🌎Regions Unit Study • 🎅🏻 🇦🇶Land 🌊Water 🌬Air.

Happy International ❄️Polar Bear 🐻 Day! How do you celebrate the holiday?

You might also like to read here our 🌊 Ocean Unit Study.

See here breathtaking pictures of polar bears @ sandiegozoo.

International ❄️Polar 🐻Bear Day Books📚

February 27 is International Polar Bear Day, celebrated to raise awareness about the conservation status of polar bears and the impact of global warming and reduced sea ice on polar bear population.

Polar bear facts: The polar bear (together with the grizzly bear) is the largest land-dwelling predatory animal on earth! Weighing in at more than 500 kilograms (1,100 lb - as heavy as an Asian elephant 🐘 who weighs on average about 1,000 pounds) and measuring almost 3 meters in length, this bear is twice as large as a 🐅 Siberian tiger. In order to withstand the extreme Arctic cold, polar bears have a thick layer of fat. They also have an undercoat and a layer of transparent protective fur (which just looks white) above the black skin, which helps them retain heat. This allows them to hunt and swim in very low temperatures. Polar bears are very good swimmers and have been sighted as far as 300 kilometers (almost 200 miles) from the coast. They need a highly sensitive sense of smell 👃 when hunting for food and can smell things located 1.5 meters  (5 feet) away or buried under a layer of ice one meter thick! Their hearing and vision are comparable with those of a human being. Polar bears are solitary animals but do not have defined territories and enjoy playing with each other. Mating takes place in May and during gestation, the female polar bear nearly triples in weight.

We really enjoyed reading (top middle) the National Geographic Readers: Polar Bears (buy here). Julia (7 years old) enjoyed reading to Adrian this beautifully illustrated and packed with fascinating facts book. "With their beautiful white fur and powerful presence, polar bears rule the Arctic. These majestic giants swim from iceberg to iceberg in chilling waters, care for their adorable cubs, and are threatened by global warming."

Did you know? 

  1. The largest bear weighed as much as a small 🏎 sports car.
  2. Polar bears have black skin underneath their "white" fur, which is not really white but translucent. 
  3. If a polar bear gets too hot, it takes a swim or rolls in the snow.
  4. Walruses are one of the few animals that polar bear is afraid of.
  5. Some people go "polar bear watching" riding in special buggies to stay safe.
  6. Polar bear can eat 💯pounds of seal fat at one time - that is about as heavy as 400🍔
  7. Polar bears clean themselves by rubbing their bodies on the snow.

DSC_0100Powerful Paws (buy our polar bear figurine here):

  • Long, thick, curved claws grab food easily.
  • Thick pads keep feet warm.
  • Front paws are webbed, like ducks' feet, helping bears swim.
  • Bumps on the footpads keep bears from slipping on the ice.
  • Big paws keep bears from sinking into the snow. The paws are larger than a dinner plate!

DSC_0100We also talked about the global warming and the increase in "greenhouse" gasses. Did you know that the year 2016 was the hottest year ever recorded? (The year 2015 was the hottest before that.) We also talked about shrinking ice-caps, and thus decreasing hunting grounds for bears, who are forced to go on land to look for food, and sometimes are seen near people's homes (in Canada), which is dangerous for polar bears and people! We also talked about what we can do to stop global warming such as use less fuel by taking walks and riding bikes, read a book instead of watching TV, plant gardens and trees which take in carbon dioxide ~ one of the main greenhouse gases.

Another great book is National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Animals (buy here) has a chapter on Arctic polar region, including polar bears. Children enjoyed the size-reference: the polar bear standing on its hind legs is about as tall as a 🏡 one-story house!


"Polar bear cubs love to play. They run and chase each other. They even jump on Mom. Sometimes they climb on top of her!"

We love "National Geographic Little Kids First Big Books" series! All of them!

We also enjoyed reading the Encyclopedia of Animals (buy here). It is a comprehensive encyclopedia, which devotes a page to each animal (0ver a 100! animals including humans), arranged in the alphabetical order. The book also provides information about the physical characteristics, habits, and behavior of animals such as hedgehogs, peacocks, penguins, salamanders, and snakes, and many more.

DSC_0100Polar bears, aside from the Arctic fox, are the only land mammals able to survive in the Arctic. They are found mainly on floating ice packs, but may move on land when the ice melts during the short Arctic summer. Normally, polar bears are solitary (living alone), but they will collect together if there is plenty of food nearby.


Lastly, we read Polar Bears: In Danger (the book Adrian is holding/buy here). It is a great book for early readers with interesting facts like: "a full-grown polar bear standing on his hind legs is as tall as an 🐘 elephant!" The book also explains why polar bears, one of nature's most beautiful animals, are endangered. 

"Our planet does not belong just to us. It belongs to all creatures living on it. It is their home as much as ours."

Happy International Polar Bear Day! 

p.s. For more on Arctic region and polar bears, read here International ❄️Polar 🐻Bear Day.

Knitting Fork - Wooden Lucet

Julia has been enjoying all sorts of arts and crafts lately, knitting fork in particular. This knitting tool (buy here) is a perfect introduction to a pleasure of working with yarn. With a simple hand and finger movement, a child creates a loose, chain-like stitch. 

DSC_0001This fork is made in Germany, and it comes with brief instructions. It took us a while to figure out how to work the "fork," but Julia was determined, and she did not give up until a chain-like stitch tail started to appear.

DSC_0027-2Julia loved watching the strand of woven yarn grow and grow from her efforts.

Have you ever worked with a Lucet fork?

Dinosaur Matching Memory Game (Dino Unit Study)

Today, we are playing Dinosaur Matching Memory game that I created. We are using one-to-one correspondence with two sets of sorting cards. Match-Up Memory game is a classic (it can be made for any unit study), and it is simple and fun to play. The game can even be played alone, or enjoyed among siblings and friends! (Parents can join-in too! I had so much fun playing it with Adrian while Julia was at school.) 

Besides improving concentration and training visual memory, Matching Memory Game increases short-term memory and attention to details. The game also improves the ability to find similarities and differences in objects and helps to classify objects that are grouped by similar traits. Lastly, matching memory game is a language material, so a child playing it will inevitably be building and improving his/her vocabulary.


Our Dino friendsSpinosaurus (buy similar here), Tyrannosaurus-Rex (buy here), Styracosaurus (buy here), Triceratops (buy here), Apatosaurus (buy here). Also, please visit my aStore💖 (New!) click on the left side-bar, where under the category "Materials we are💗Loving Now" I hand-picked best value sets of dinosaurs that will save you some💲  money. I would also love to hear your feedback as to the layout :)

Adrian has been showing more and more affection for Apatosaurus (buy here). Adrian likes that Apatosaurus resembles a giraffe (his favorite animal), and that it was a plant-eating (herbivore) dinosaur, who spent most of its time grazing. (Apatosaurus lived in the Jurassic Period around 150 million years ago.) Despite its small head and even smaller brain, Apatosaurus was one of the largest land animals to have ever walked on🌏 Earth! To counter-balance its huge body and long neck, Apatosaurus had a long whip-like tail. Some Apatosaurus might have lived to be a 💯 hundred years old!

Did you know? The Apatosaurus is also known as the Brontosaurus. Confusion was caused when bones of the giant dinosaur were first discovered in 1877 by Othniel Charles Marsh. After naming the new dinosaur Apatosaurus (meaning deceptive lizard), Marsh later found a larger set of bones and incorrectly thought they were a new species which he then named Brontosaurus (meaning thunder lizard). However, the second set of bones were just the adult version of the Apatosaurus already discovered.

With a length of 25 meters and hip height of more than three meters, this dinosaur weighed almost 40 tons. How heavy is it?40 🐻, 80 🚘 or 6 large 🐘!!! Fully grown brown bears and polar bears weigh approximately 1 ton, so that is 40 polar bears and 80 cars (most cars weigh approximately 1/2 ton). And a fully grown elephant can weigh up to 7 tons, so Apatosaurus weighed about as much as 6 large elephants!   
DSC_0018Spinosaurus just like T.Rex has a movable lower jaw! (Buy similar here.)

I created this Dino Memory Game with a help of an online printing company. Cards are made of a high quality durable cardstock, and can either be made in glossy or matte finish. (I prefer matte finish to conceal the fingerprints.) And the best part is that the game arrives ready to use - no need for printing, cutting, or laminating! If you would like to purchase this Dino matching game, please email 📧 Me 💖.

Adrian had so much fun with this memory game! Also, if played with siblings or friends, the game teaches patience and how to wait for your turn, improving social skills and building on respectful communal interaction. 

p.s. Read interesting facts about these dinosaurs in a Dinosaur Box post here.