Susan Riley | March 2014

How to create a STEAMed Starry Night Card

How many of you are tired of winter and ready for spring?

I know I am.  At our house, we’ve had 9 snow days this year and with that kind of time, we all look for things to do with our children that don’t include TV or yet another round of cookie-baking.  Like many of you, I went onto Pinterest to find some fun and educational activities to do with my daughter and found this incredible idea from the Artful Parent of creating Starry Night-inspired notecards.  As I began to gather the materials for our home art activity, I began to think about how to really extend this into a meaningful STEAM lesson and suddenly, we were in full classroom mode and making very intentional connections to math and science along the way.  Here’s how to create a STEAMed Starry Night Card like the ones designed:

How to create a STEAMed Starry Night Card, Education Closet

Here’s a couple of points to remember as you consider this idea:

1. Home vs. Classroom.  This is an easy lesson to do at home and parents can join in on the action.  What’s great is that you can make some really authentic connections in and through the arts to major math and science concepts.  Plus, the materials are things that most families have access to without a lot of cost.  Classroom teachers who want to use this will need to make some adjustments in the process – you don’t want salt going everywhere – and grade levels should be considered for this project.  With the cutting of the silhouettes, for instance, you may want to save this for 1st or 2nd grade, given the smaller cuts that are needed for things like the trees.

2. Craft vs. Creation. Keep in mind what purpose you may be using this idea for in your classroom or home.  If you are simply looking for a fun way to spend the day and a nice product when you’re done, this is a craft.  However, if you’re looking to help your child or students understand a concept more deeply and you use this idea to help them make those connections, this becomes some much more richly developed.

When I did this with my daughter, we spent a lot of time looking at vanGogh’s painting that we found online, and I asked her a lot of questions about it.  She thought that the swirls looked like the wind and that the stars looked like fairy dust.  She developed a story to go along with the painting and we recorded it, saved it online and gave it a QR code.  Then, we printed the code and pasted it on the back.  Now when she shares the print with someone, they can also listen to her story.  We also spent a good bit of time talking about shapes and proportion, as well as what happened when the salt hit the wet paint.  As with most arts integration and STEAM lessons, it’s all about the intention in which you use the art and the other content areas.

How do you encourage art-making and integration at home like making this Starry Night Card?  We’d love to hear the ideas you can share to make meaningful learning available anywhere!

About the Author

Susan Riley is the founder and CEO of The Institute for Arts Integration and STEAM. She focuses on teacher professional development in arts integration, STEAM, 21st century learning skills, and technology. She is also a published author and frequent presenter at national conferences on Arts Integration and STEAM education. Susan holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from the prestigious Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ and a Master of Science in Education Administration from McDaniel College in Westminster, MD. She lives in Westminster, MD with her husband and daughter. Email Susan