Admittedly, it was rather odd to be inspired to create a PBS Parents Adventures in Learning activity during a recent visit to Las Vegas. That town isn’t famous for being source material for youthful lesson plans — but while there attending an auto show a few weeks back, I discovered something quite remarkable.
Kia had presented an unusual but beautiful gesture to celebrate its 20th year as a car manufacturer in America: 6 custom vehicles each designed inside and out to pay homage to a specific region of the United States. From the teal convertible with buttercream seats inspired by the Florida sun and sand to the autumnal beauty of the Northeast coming alive on their Sedona photo editing suite minivan and the dune buggy racer perfect for climbing the sand dunes of the American southwest to the the rugged evergreen rucksack hauler ideal for Pacific Northwest adventures, the colors and concepts reminded me of just how diverse our country truly is.
Today, I hope to inspire you and your kids to work on an America the Beautiful Art Activity that will honor the vast topographical and cultural differences within our one great nation.
What You’ll Need
- Crayons, markers, colored pencils
- Atlas, maps, internet access
How To Start The Art Activity
Before you crack open a single atlas and photography book or fire up your favorite internet search engine, ask your child to blurt out what they think of when you say any or all of the following:
- The South
- Southern California
- The Southwest
- Northern California
- The Pacific northwest
- The Midwest
- The Great Plains
- The Northeast
Write down the initial, gut-reaction adjectives they use to describe each of those regions. If your child has been to some or all of those places, that’s great as they may have their own memories with which to work. If not, and if they are having trouble thinking of what colors, animals, building or visuals match those regions, simply image search those states and regions to give your child a quick peek at all that awaits across this country.
Next, ask them to color, draw, sketch or make a collage to represent the different regions of the country. The kind of art your child chooses to express themselves and demonstrate the diversity of America’s many landscapes is totally open ended — affix colorful leaves or cactus spikes, glue sand, use personal photos of lighthouses or national monuments — there is no wrong way to do this America the Beautiful Art Activity.
In the end, you’ll hopefully be looking at a series of drawings, photo collages, physical art or abstract crayon prints reflecting all that makes America beautiful — towering redwoods, sandy coastlines, vibrant cities, great plains, national parks and the charm of small New England villages just to name a few.
If you are feeling extra crafty (and ambitious), cut a representative section of each piece of regional American art your child makes and fashion a handmade map of the United States!