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Virtual Vacation Continued

I hope you had a nice weekend. As I get ready for Monday with a stack of papers to grade, I want to make sure that our family enters this unprecedented time with some kind of structure. Some people thrive on languorous unstructured days, but my kids and I are definitely not those people.

On day one we already had a schedule up on the wall on an oversized post-it and both of my kids completed the postcard activity that I wrote about in my previous post. In fact, Sidney liked it so much that she has asked to do it each day since. This morning she landed on Mali, which has serious travel restrictions due to unrest, so she asked to spin again though I encouraged her to consider going as an aid worker (alas she declined).

Even her choosing an unstable destination was a great opportunity to reflect on the crisis at hand and have a critically engaged social studies and current events lesson.

This week I am going to continue the theme of virtual vacation with prompts related to the visual arts below:

1. If you were planning a trip to New York City, Amsterdam, London, or Paris, I imagine there were going to be some museum visits scheduled. You can have your kiddo visit some of these museums virtually at these links (if you are avoiding screen time you can consult art books):

Ask your kiddos to scroll through the images until they find something that they really love. Next, have them write down background information about the artist, the artist's style (impressionism, abstract expressionism, etc.), the title of the painting, and why they like it.

*For artistic kids, you might have them try to create a work of their own in the style of the artist.

*For research lovers, have them find other artists who were creating in the same style and complete the same exercise.

2. Ekphrastic poems are poems inspired by works of art. The image is vividly described in words.

Examples: Edward Hopper’s, House by the Railroad paired with Edward Hirsch’s "Edward Hopper and the House by the Railroad"; Grant Wood’s American Gothic paired with John Stone’s "American Gothic"; Pieter Bruegel’s Landscape with the Fall of Icarus paired with William Carlos Williams "Landscape with the Fall of Icarus" (Auden's "Musée des Beaux Arts" is also about Bruegel's painting and could be used to compare how two poets describe the same painting differently!)

Landscape with the Fall of Icarus

William Carlos Williams

According to Brueghel when Icarus fell it was spring

a farmer was ploughing his field the whole pageantry

of the year was

awake tingling near

the edge of the sea concerned  with itself

sweating in the sun that melted the wings' wax

insignificantly off the coast there was

a splash quite unnoticed this was Icarus drowning

Pre-Writing: Ask your kiddo to find a painting (you can use the links from the first exercise) and write down or discuss the following: What do you see? What is happening in the artwork? What is the setting and time period? Is there a story being told? What are the subjects in the artwork thinking or saying? What is their relationship? What emotions does the artwork make you feel? What are your sensory reactions? How would you summarize the theme or main idea of the artwork? Next, spend five to ten minutes writing down thoughts about the painting. Some strategies for composing an ekphrastic poem:

Tell the story of what's happening in the artwork, write from the perspective of the artist or subjects (this can be really fun for younger kids!), or describe the experience of looking at the image

Writing your own poem:

Begin by selecting words or phrases from the free writing and use them as the starting point for their poems. The poem need not follow any formal structure but should be between 10 and 15 lines. Bonus if the poem uses alliteration, simile, or personification.

3. Ask your kiddo to research a special food or delicacy from a place you planned to visit or a place your kiddo traveled to in their virtual postcard. If you have the ingredients you can of course make the food and write a food review. If you cannot make the item, your kiddo can write about it in a descriptive piece based on images and other research. How does it taste? Smell? How is it eaten? Younger ones can just get practice with handwriting, reading, and spelling by copying the recipes.

As always shoot me a message with any questions and I would love to see your kiddos work in the comments.

Yours in the FLOW,


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