Mountain Lake PBS Author Visits


Using Touch the Art in the Classroom


The story of Touch the Art with Paul Larson of Mountain Lake PBS.

Using The Touch the Art Series in the Classroom by Amy Guglielmo

Objective: Teacher and author Amy Guglielmo will discuss and demonstrate several ideas for using PBS Author Visits and Touch the Art books in the classroom. The PBS interview teaches children about the nexus of the series and how the books were made. Through the Touch the Art books children can learn art history, math, fine motor, writing, and reading skills. When children “jump” inside the famous paintings in the books they are able to explore vocabulary and make connections to cultures outside their classroom, throughout history, and around the world. The “Artifacts” section in the back of the books provides supplemental information about the art and artists found in the series. Below are specific sample activities that include methods of introducing art in the classroom and show how to use art to teach math and literacy skills.

Workshop Program:

1.Discuss and demonstrate how to use PBS Author Visits in the classroom

2.Discuss specific ways to use Touch the Art in the classroom

3.Brainstorming session. How would you use author visits/Touch the Art in the classroom?

4.Q and A session

All activities can be adjusted to the age of the students. For example: older students can write and illustrate their own touchable books.

Sample lessons:

Have the children watch the PBS author interview and read the Touch the Art books.

Ages: Pre-K through Third Grade

Literacy Activity: Using pages from the books, like Van Gogh’s Bedroom at Arles in Make Van Gogh’s Bed, ask the kids to describe the paintings. What do they see in this painting? How is Van Gogh’s painting similar or different from their bedrooms?

Follow up art/math activity: Ask the students to create a drawing of their own bedroom. Be sure to have them add touchable elements like scraps of fabric for linens.

Writing Activity: Print out several paintings by famous artists. Have students tell or write a story using all of the paintings. This is an excellent activity for sequencing and storytelling. Remind students that their stories need a beginning, middle and end.

Follow up art activity: Have students act out or illustrate their stories.

Math Activity: Read Catch Picasso’s Rooster and ask students to identify shapes in Picasso’s Rooster painting.

Follow up art activity: Have students make Cubist animals using basic shapes.

History Activity: Read Tickle Tut’s Toes. Using the “Artifacts” information in the back of the book discuss the images and the importance of King Tut, mummies, and various historical sites found in the story. Show Egypt on a map.

Follow up art activity: Have students draw on small pieces of sandpaper with crayons to create Egyptian sand drawings.

Reading Activity: Read Feed Matisse’s Fish using a close reading technique and encourage students to decipher patterns, rhyming words, and meaning from the text.

Follow up art/math activity: Feed Matisse’s Fish takes the reader through a busy day, and it is a vehicle to introduce the concept of “telling time” in the classroom. Have students each make their own page of a classroom book that shows what they do at certain times of the day.

Supplemental Materials:

In addition to learning about other local authors, the PBS website has several videos that introduce students to local artists.

There are many other excellent resources for learning about fine art on the Internet. Have children look at the following museum website to learn more about the art and artists found in this series.

Lesson Plan: writing a bedtime story or poem inspired by Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh

Read: Make Van Gogh’s Bed and Find King Henry’s Treasures

Discuss basic story ideas:

Who is the star of the story? – Main Character(s) –

In Van Gogh it’s the reader.

In KHT it’s the knight.

Where does the story take place? – Setting-

In Van Gogh the story starts and ends in a bedroom.

In KHT the story moves throughout the kingdom.

What’s the problem? – Conflict –

In Van Gogh we want to go to the beach to meet our friends.

In KHT the knight needs to find out who is taking the king’s treasures.

Solution – Resolution - 

In Van Gogh we make our way to the beach to see our friends and return home to go to bed.

In KHT the knight discovers that the dragon was only borrowing the treasures for a bit.

Using the books as story models write a simple story with the class using the exercises below:

1- Nighttime words

Look at the image of Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh. Brainstorm nighttime words for a poem or story. Work as a group to combine the words into a poem and let the students draw an illustration.

2- Make a beginning, middle and end story

Divide a paper in three.

Read the first page of Make Van Gogh’s Bed:

“Wake up! Good morning sleepy head. It’s time to make your messy bed.”

Looking at the first image think of something else that could happen first thing in the morning.

Pick a page in the middle of the book and have students come up with an idea for something that happens in the middle of the story.

Read the last page of the book:

“It’s dark outside. Stars are shining bright, pull up your covers and say good night!”

As a group how can you end this story?

Have students draw the pictures for the story.

3- Exquisite corpse – tell a story aloud as a class

Start with a prompt for the beginning of the story, “Today when I woke up, I…” Going around the room, have each student tell what happens next by adding new pages to the story. Write down each student’s words with their name on a large piece of paper.

Have the students draw pictures of their page of the story and add touch spaces like glittery stars and foil moons.

Museum of Modern Art:

The Metropolitan Museum of Art:

National Gallery of Art:

Smithsonian American Art Museum:


Author Interview