01 August, 2010

More Summer Activities: Van Gogh's bedroom

More continent swap projects!

To represent The Netherlands, I wanted to create a tangible activity based around one of Vincent van Gogh's paintings.  I thought a painting of his bedroom would be perfect.  The activity would allow the children to touch and move around the furniture!  I started with an image of one of his bedroom paintings.  (Did you know he painted this bedroom at least three times?)

Bedroom in Arles

Next, I used a coloring page (from The van Gogh Museum) of Bedroom in Arles. Using an exacto knife, I cut out all the furniture and painted in the spaces, thus creating the empty bedroom. Next I painted all the furniture pieces, as best I could, to match van Gogh's.


I arranged the activity in a red folder (to match the Montessori map colors), with photos of all van Gogh's bedroom paintings and a little envelope with the furniture pieces.  First the children are to figure out which image of van Gogh's bedroom, most closely resembles the empty bedroom.  Then they are to arrange the furniture just as van Gogh did, making the 2 bedroom images identical.


When they are finished,  the children can arrange the furniture as they wish.  "How would you arrange the furniture if this was your bedroom?"  Some children may notice furniture seems to "fit" only in certain places.  Why are the 2 chairs such different sizes?  Ah, perspective!  (I found an interesting lesson about perspective in van Gogh's bedroom, here.)  

  My daughter's original interior design!

After completing this project, I was thinking to myself how funny it would be if van Gogh was in his bed.  On a lark, I printed two of his self portraits, and cut out the heads.  I cut a little slit in the bed (just under the pillow) and stuck in his head.  I have to tell you, I laughed so hard I think my husband and children thought I was a lunatic.  See for yourself how funny it looks!  Hilarious, right?!?!  

 Here is a file with the empty bedroom and the furniture.   Have fun! 


  1. I LOVE this idea!! I am trying to develop an artist study curriculum for my son's montessori school where I also teach one day a week. I love the hands-on quality of this idea. A downloadable file would be AWESOME!!
    great idea

  2. Thanks Becky. I still haven't made a downloadable version, but your encouragement makes me want to get to it - soon! That's what long weekends are for after all, right? : )

  3. What amazing resources you make and provide! Wow. My little girl is going to love this as lately she has had a thing about Van Gogh. I can't wait to show her.
    Thank you for all the time and effort you have went to to make these and your generosity in sharing.

  4. That is a RIOT that you put him in his bed! Love that detail! I may have to borrow this awesome idea. Thank you SO much for sharing it!

  5. Thanks so much, I want to use it with my class, we're studying map-making and this will be such a beautiful idea with making a map of their room too. Aloha for you and your family!

  6. Hi,
    It says you can download the files but I can't seem to find where they are to download. Am I missing something?
    Great site by the way :)

  7. Hi Lisa,

    The link seems to be the same color as the regular print. I must have changed that somehow without noticing. Ooops. Anyway, just click on the word "here" when it says, "Here is a file with the empty bedroom and furniture."

    Hope that helps!

    : )

  8. just love all yout ideas. what a great way to inspire your pupils and enthuse them to want to find out more. i covered van gogh in my class a few yrs ago using 'starry night' initially to discuss feelings and how sad van gogh was. we then studied sunflowers and how they made him happy. the children painted their own versions of both paintings and we did lots of sunflower activities. this activity will extend this project even further. thank you so much from The Beehive Montessori School, Co. Kildare, Ireland!


Thank you for your comments. They are always much appreciated. : )