Starry Myths


ELA and Art

  • 30-45 Minutes


  • pencils, pens
  • Once Upon a Starry Night book
  • VanGogh’s Starry Night painting
  • large white paper
  • Tempera paint and brushes
  • chart paper and markers
  • Music/Music Player

Lesson Overview:

Students view images of constellations in the sky at night, trace the connections between the stars and describe what shapes, characters or stories come to mind.

Read the book “Once Upon a Starry Night”. Read the introduction as a whole group and then split the class into 10 small groups. Assign each group one of the 10 stories about the constellations and associated myths found in the book. After reading, have all groups share out to the whole class.


Step 1: View VanGogh’s Starry Night and ask students to describe what shapes or patterns they see in this depiction of the sky. Identify similarities and differences to the constellation images from earlier.

Step 2: Ask students to think about the adjectives they would associate with the images in VanGogh’s artwork. IE: the swirls look like it’s windy, the colors are sharp.

Step 3: Create a table chart with the columns “art element” and “adjective” and fill in with each of the answers. Then, tell students that you will be playing a piece of music and they will move around the room. When the music stops, you will call out an art element and they will need to show what the adjective looks like with their bodies in a frozen position. For example, “line” could have the adjective “swirly” and their body would need to look swirly. Musical suggestion: Aurora Borealis Concerto Movement 3.

Closing: Do the movement to the music again, but this time when the music stops, students will need to form a constellation in groups of 4-5 that portrays what the adjective might look like.


In their constellation groups, students will paint their constellation highlighting their chosen art element (line, shape, color, etc). They will then write a brief myth about their constellation and why that element was