Sample Parent Guide
for The Vanishing Sunflowers: A Story About Vincent van Gogh
Making It Interactive
Talking it over
- Van Gogh loved painting and spent many hours each day painting. How do you think it made him feel that people didn’t like his work? Why do you think he continued painting?
- Van Gogh was affected by Marigold’s words in the story. She helped give him the confidence he needed. Has someone ever affected your mood or feelings by what they said? Is there something you could say or do to make someone feel good about themselves? Do you think words can make a difference?
- Van Gogh was known to be a very kind and helpful person. He once said, “There is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.” What are three things you can do to be kind today?
- What kinds of brush strokes did Van Gogh teach Marigold in the story?
- Do you like Van Gogh’s paintings? Why or why not?
Visit our Van Gogh Pinterest board for lots of ideas to try with your child this week. After listening to our story, I’m sure they’ll be excited to paint their own colorful masterpiece!
Reading with your kids
- Van Gogh and the Sunflowers by Laurence Anholt
- Katie and the Starry Night by James Mayhew and Lee Wildish
- Van Gogh and the Colors of the Wind by Chiara Lossani
- In the Garden with Van Gogh by Julie Merberg
- Van Gogh and the Post-Impressionists for Kids: Their Lives and Ideas, 21 Activities (For Kids Series) by Carol Sabbeth
Recipe from the Netherlands
Poffertjes are small, puffy, Dutch and delicious, especially topped with powdered sugar. And of course they’d make a great snack while learning about Vincent van Gogh.
Paintings from the story
We talk about several of Van Gogh’s famous works in the story – The Sunflowers, The Potato Eaters, Cafe Terrace at Night and The Postman are all mentioned. Some of them we’ve included in this guide, others you’ll have to find online. Showing them to your kids, pointing out the brush strokes and colors would be a great supplement to hearing the story.
Tips for doing art with your child
- Don’t present an example of how the end result ‘should’ look. It’s discouraging to kids comparing their work to that of an adult or even of another child.
- Choose a fun subject. Let your child paint something they love.
- Let your child explore with different size brushes and other tools to paint with. Why not try painting with a flower, with a sponge, bubble wrap or sticks! Let them explore and be creative. They might just surprise you with something amazing!
- Talk to them about what they’ve created. Let them explain it to you rather than you telling them what you see. What did they have in mind when painting? How were they feeling?
- Give them the time they need! Painting can be a way for kids to express their emotions, to convey their ideas and thoughts, use their senses and explore the process of creating something. Let them work at their own pace.
Did You Know?
Vincent van Gogh
Vincent van Gogh is perhaps the most famous artist in history. He was born and raised in the Netherlands about 160 years ago. His father was a preacher. Vincent was a bit lost as a young man and lacked a direction for his life. He tried normal jobs, but nothing was a good fit. He worked for a short time as a pastor and as a teacher. He also worked as an art dealer and also in a bookstore. None of these jobs made him happy. At age 27, he decided to become a painter. Unfortunately, his family did not see his talent and they tried to talk him out of painting. The only person to really believe in Vincent’s talent was his little brother Theo. Theo even gave Vincent money so he could keep painting without having to get another job.
In 1886 (the year our story takes place) Vincent moved to Paris to be near other artists and to live closer to Theo. In Paris he learned to use brighter, bolder colors and many of his great masterpieces were created there.
Vincent only worked as a painter for 10 years, but during that time he was very busy. He painted more than 900 paintings and did more than 1000 drawings. But of all those, he only sold one painting while he was alive.
Theo’s wife and son were largely responsible for showing the world Vincent’s paintings. There were so many incredible paintings that they were able to open an entire museum in the Netherlands just showing Vincent van Gogh’s work.
More to Explore
Van Gogh's life
A brief biography of Vincent van Gogh
Painting with dark water