STEAM Education integrates the arts into STEM by recognizing that individual creative expression and quest for knowledge is an integral part the disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math! STEAM Education compels kids to use cross-disciplinary skills to gain new knowledge that they can apply to their everyday world. Come explore how integrated learning can be EXCITING and FUN for kids through a STEAM Mondrian-Inspired Playdough Challenge for Kids!
Mondrian-Inspired STEAM Playdough Challenge for Kids!
Background Information for Parents and Teachers:
Piet Mondrian (1872-1944) was a Dutch painter considered by many to be the founder of abstract art. In his artwork, “Composition C (no.iii) with Red, Yellow and Blue” (1935), Piet Mondrian used red, blue, and yellow colored squares and rectangles with black lines and white spaces to create art he considered harmonious and pure. The artist moved from France to New York during WWII and became very productive near the end of his life. The colorful grid-like block patterns in his later paintings were reflections of the fast pace of the city and the “boogie-woogie” jazz music he adored. For more examples of Mondrian Art, see here.
Introductory Discussion with Kids:
Open discussion by showing the kids a picture of Piet Mondrian’s Composition C (no.iii) with Red, Yellow and Blue (photo above) and asking the following questions:
- Why do you think Piet Mondrian left white spaces in his artwork?
- What shapes did Mondrian use in the Composition C (no.iii) with Red, Yellow, and Blue?
- Do you like the painting? Why or why not? Remind students they do not have to like an artist’s work, but they must always show respect for the artist in their responses.
Mondrian-Inspired Playdough Challenge
Objective: Kids will use cross-disciplinary STEAM skills to plan, design, and engineer Mondrian-inspired color blocks with playdough.
STEAM Skills Presented:
Science: Students will explore Mondrian Art through individual (and/or collaborative) use of skills in the scientific method: observing, communicating, comparing, organizing, and relating.
Technology: Kids will use digital photography, video clips, and iMovie to document learning.
Engineering: Students will construct hands-on Mondrian-inspired color block art that exhibits early attempts at engineering.
Arts: Kids will design and construct Mondrian-inspired art that reflects the student’s creative expression.
Math: Students will explore geometric shapes, measurement, lines, primary colors, and patterns in creating Mondrian-inspired art.
Set out the simple supplies on a tray or table as an invitation for the kids to create. Show the kids a photo of the Mondrian color block painting again for inspiration, but allow the kids to formulate their own plan for design and construction.
- Playdough (Red, Yellow, Blue, and White)
- Square and Rectangle Shapes or Cookie Cutters
- Plastic knives (if not using cookie cutters)
Challenge Inquiry: Kids are asked to plan colors and design a 4-6 color Mondrian-inspired block pattern using just playdough and the squares/rectangles. The time limit for the challenge is 15 minutes. The kids will ask HOW to make the color block patterns. Try to respond with open ended questions to allow for critical thinking and creative expression.
It is truly amazing to watch kids use inquiry, exploration, critical thinking, and predictions to formulate creative solutions to simple problems! Our kids all chose different color block patterns and numbers of squares/rectangles to complete the challenge. We used the same supplies, but each color block construction was as unique as the child that created it!
Digital Technology and Documentation of Learning
Invite the kids to take photos and video clips of their playdough color block constructions or color block patterns they might find in their own communities. To create the trailer shown, our kids took digital photos and loaded them into an iMovie Trailer template. The kids had great FUN, but they also gained awesome technology skills along the way!
Color block patterns occur often in art, textiles (see: the Mondrian-inspired dress by Yves Saint Laurent), and in their own communities. When kids are exposed to the concept of color block art through simple STEAM learning, they gain the knowledge to begin formulating ideas about how their everyday world is connected to a larger universe.
For MORE STEAM Explorations for Kids, please see:
Be sure to visit the OTHER great STEM activities that are part of the
#28DaysofSTEM series from Left Brain Craft Brain!