If your little one (and you) are finding it hard to stay inside today. Catch a train into the city and visit the National Gallery of Victoria, pack a lunch, grab yourself a coffee and have a day out enjoying art. Your child will get to see new things, have a run around and play. The gallery is free for most exhibits and there is plenty of room for young children to burn off energy.
I teach Art and I love to take my students to the gallery. Being outside of the classroom sparks all sorts of interesting conversations and students really enjoy browsing the works. Structure however is important. Young children can get very bored if not taught how to view the works or without something concrete to do. It is also important that you allow your children to lead you to the works that they engage with. It gives them a sense of independence and ownership over the tour. Here are some of my top activities for children that work for ages 3 – 15.
1: Take some pencils and paper (no pens are allowed in the gallery), and let your children draw their favourite parts of paintings or sculptures. In quiet rooms you will be able to sit on the floor and spread paper out to draw.
2: Before going to the NGV look up the collection at https://www.google.com/culturalinstitute/project/art-project and print off some works that you like. Give those to your children when you get to the gallery and tell them there is a prize for the first person that finds it. Young kids and big kids LOVE treasure hunts and you will be amazed at how much attention they will pay to the works once they find them.
3: For slightly older kids give them a camera (you can take pictures in most galleries except for the indigenous section) and get them to take photos of their favourite pieces. You can turn this into a bit of a treasure hunt too by instructing them to take photos of specific things such as ‘take photographs of big noses’ or ‘ take photographs of things that are yellow’. I have found that kids engage really well with this task and love telling you all about the works they photographed when you get home.
4: Visit the sculpture garden at NGV International. Kids love running around the works.
5: Drop a coin in the pond at the front of the NGV International and make a wish.
6: Find some paintings that depict the past or a different culture and have a discussion with your child about what is happening in the work. What are people wearing? What are they eating? How are they different/the same as us? The ‘Art of the Ancient World’ exhibit is perfect for this activity as is the 16th Century Collection.
7: Have lunch in the stained glass atrium and lie on the floor identifying colours and shapes.
8: Open a discussion about an artwork by having your child use the following prompts ‘I feel’, ‘I think’ and ‘I see’. The prompts will get a range of responses and it is really interesting to see what children note in artworks.
9: Get your children to tell you stories about what they think is happening in an artwork. Or describe to them what is happening and ask them ‘what happens next?’
10: When you get home, print off the photographs you took, and use them for collage, stick them on your child’s bedroom wall or paste them into a book together.