Using stargazing as an example, discuss God’s amazing creation and the feelings of wonder and awe they invoke. View a print of Van Gogh’s “Starry Night.” Students will create their own starry night with a crayon resist technique and use silhouettes to place themselves in their picture.
Key/Memory Verse: “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” Psalm 8:1a (NIV)
At the end of the Rotation, kids should be able to:
- Locate Find Psalm 8 in the Old Testament of the Bible.
- Learn some attributes of Psalms: David is credited with writing many; Psalms were/are songs & prayers used to worship God.
- Contemplate God’s amazing creation to discover a feeling of wonder. Discuss ways to pay attention to God’s world so as to nurture this sense of awe.
- Explore our relationship to God: compared to God’s vast creation we seem insignificant, but yet we are important and valuable to God! Recognize that this is both humbling and up-lifting.
- Read the scripture for this lesson.
- Read and reflect on the overview material provided for this lesson.
- Gather the following materials.
- Easel with paper or white board; appropriate marker
- Print of Van Gogh’s Starry Night
- Paper - 75 lb. or heavier (larger number) watercolor paper
- Table covering; Paint smocks
- Black tempera paint; Water; Cups to use for paint – yogurt cups with tops
- Paint brushes (one person student - not foam brushes)
- Precut silhouettes. Search for "children’s silhouettes," enlarge to desired size with copier or draw your own silhouettes. (Optional for older students: black construction paper wider than watercolor paper, white chalk, scissors)
- Handouts of Psalm 8 (1 per student; optional)
- Psalm 8 verse strips (an enlarged copy of Psalm 8, cut apart into verses)
- Try out the materials so you know how hard the students must press with the crayons. [Important Note: If you create a sample, do not show it to the students. Showing a sample has been known to dampen student creativity as students attempt to create one “just like the teachers”.]
- Prepare one silhouette large enough to fit on the Van Gogh print.
- Cover the tables. When 3rd grade and up visits, place Bibles around the seats.
- Mix black tempera paint and add a small amount of water to thin it down to a milky consistency. It should be able to slowly drip off a loaded brush. Fill several yogurt cups.
- Trim one copy of the Psalm 8 Handout so that it fits inside a Bible. Set aside this Bible to use to read to the class.
Greet your students warmly, welcoming them to the Art Workshop. Introduce yourself and any other adults.
Say: Tell me about the last time you went outside at night and looked up at the stars. (Encourage the children to briefly tell you about their experiences with stargazing.)
Ask: How did you feel about what you saw?
Did it make you sleepy?
Did it make you wonder about things?
Ask: I wonder how many stars we can see? (accept all answers; admit that there are so many we couldn’t count them all)
I wonder if seeing all those stars... you thought about God’s amazing power in creating stars, planets, moons and earth?
Does God’s awesome creation ever make you feel like singing?
Say: There is a song in the Bible written by David, which expresses his feelings about God’s creation.
Ask: Who remembers who David is? (David & Goliath, King David)
Say: David spent part of his life as a shepherd, watching over sheep. In Bible times sheep slept outside at night, with their shepherd, under the stars. Let’s find David’s song in our Bibles.
Say: The book of Psalms helps us understand how to talk to God and how to worship him. We can learn much from the ancient songs and poems that make up the book of Psalms.
For 1st and 2nd graders:
Say: That's why it is important to read and study the Bible. Today, I will read to you from the Old Testament of the Bible. These are words that Jesus would have heard when he was your age. I will read from the book of Psalms.
For 3rd grade and up:
Do: Make sure that everyone has access to a Bible.
Ask: Where do we find the book of Psalms in the Bible? (in the Old Testament)
Do: Have everyone find Psalm 8 in his or her Bible .
Remind them that opening their Bible in the middle generally brings them close to the Psalms. Point out the chapter numbers in the heading. Point out that the small numbers in the text are verse numbers. On the easel or white board write “Psalm 8:1” telling students that the 8 stands for chapter 8 and the 1 means verse 1. You may wish to note that the “P” is silent in the word “Psalm.”
Say: Listen to David’s song, Psalm 8.
For all students:
Say: Slowly read to them, Psalm 8 reading from a copy of the Psalm 8 handout.
Note: It’s important to reinforce that this passage comes from the Bible by holding open a Bible to Psalm 8 even though you are reading the verses from the paper you cut out earlier.
Ask: Did that sound like a poem or a song? (accept all answers)
How could David’s words in this Psalm help us worship God? (accept all answers)
Say: The Psalms are considered poetry or songs. Hebrew poetry didn’t rhyme words. Instead it repeats ideas.
Ask: Did you hear something repeated in Psalm 8? (first & last verse)
Introduce the Art Project:
Do: Show the Van Gogh print.
Say: Here is a print of painting done by a famous artist by the name of Vincent Van Gogh. He called his painting, Starry Night.
Ask: Do you suppose this artist ever went out at night to watch stars?
Say: Van Gogh was one of the first painters to not just paint what he saw, but to paint what he felt. Close your eyes to listen, as I reread parts of Psalm 8. As you hear these words, think about your feelings while stargazing. Think about how Psalm 8 tells us that David was awed by God’s night sky.
Do: Reread verse 1, and verses 3-5. Ask students to reopen their eyes.
Say: Let’s create our own starry night pictures. We will start with crayons. You may draw other parts of the picture as well, but concentrate on the stars. Remember that Van Gogh did not show a lot of detail in his painting. In our pictures we want some white space on the page because when we finish crayoning, we will use black paint to cover the entire page. This creates what is called a "crayon resist painting."
Do: Quickly demonstrate the crayoning – how hard they have to press down and the effect of the black paint wash. Make sure everyone understands that they should not cover the entire page with crayon. Explain that they may crayon themselves into their drawing or use another method. Place the specially cut silhouette in the bottom of the Van Gogh print.
Say: When I add what is called a silhouette, it looks a bit like someone sitting on the hillside looking at the stars. You can add yourself into your painting!
Do: Pass out paper and crayons. Have students write their name (first and last) on the back of their paper before they start. [Add their grade too. Ask the Shepherd to help with this.]
When it appears that everyone knows what to do and has started working, begin the “discussion” portion of lesson.
Discussion While Working:
- Say: David is credited with writing many of the Psalms. The book of Psalms contains 150 chapters. Scholars think David may have written half of the Psalms. There are short Psalms – Psalm 117 has only 2 verses. Then we have a Psalm that has more verses than any other chapter in the Bible; Psalm 119 has 176 verses.
- Say: We have talked about how stars in the sky make us feel awed by God’s amazing creation. Name other things in nature that amaze you.
- Say: If we never went outside at night we could easily miss the beauty of God’s creation. If we stay inside on a rainy day we might miss seeing a rainbow.
Ask: What can keep us from noticing what God has created? (we get too busy, we forget to look, etc.)
Say: It almost takes practice to notice God’s magnificent creation.
Ask: What are ways to make sure we pay attention to God’s world around us? (we can remind each other. For example: text a friend if the sunset is pretty)
Say: God wants us to notice his creation and to thank him.
- Say: David had a close relationship with God. David spent many nights in the fields with his sheep. I bet he spent a lot of time talking to God in prayer. We have heard how David was awed by God’s creation. David was also amazed to realize what God thought of people!
Ask: What is it that David came to understand? [If necessary read verses 4-6. See the first page of your Overview Material, which uses the CEV and is easiest to understand.]
Say: David realized that God, our great, all-powerful creator, cares for us! God thinks we are important. God has given us important work to do.
Ask: How does it feel to discover that God thinks you are important? (allow responses; share a story from your own faith journey)
Do: At least 12 min. before class ends, give a two-minute warning to finish up for the next step.
Art Process, Part 2:
Do: Supply smocks, paintbrushes and watered-down paint. Instruct the students to paint in strokes from left to right, starting at the top of the page and working to the bottom. Show them how to lightly touch the paper with the brush. Do not over-paint.
Do: Students that didn’t draw themselves into the painting should pick out a “silhouette.” Use chalk to write their name on the back. Explain that the paintings must dry and then you will add the silhouette for them.
For older students:
If time allows, older students may design and cut their own silhouette. Provide them with black construction paper, white chalk, and scissors. Model how to trace out a design on one side of the black paper, leaving the lower edge, or baseline, intact. They may wish to include buildings or trees as Van Gogh did. Strongly encourage them to put themselves in the picture! Have them cut along the chalk lines. Write names on the chalk side of the silhouette. Set aside to add later.
Do: Have students share their creations, briefly telling about their starry night scenes.
Say: When we take time to think about our amazing God – his awesome power, his deep love for us, we say: O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
Do: Make sure that everyone receives a copy of Psalm 8.
If you have extra time:
Use the Psalm 8 verse strips – an enlarged copy of Psalm 8 without verse numbers that has been cut so that each verse is one strip. Have students put the strips together in correct order. If they are doing well, cut the strips into smaller sections, breaking up sentences. Have the Shepherd help with this activity.
Slotnick, Cindy. “Starry Night” (A lesson plan submitted to Incredible Art Department). Year unknown. Web.
Art print of Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” (20 x16”) purchased at JoAnn’s (larger print) & Michael’s.
Silhouettes attached: all licensed under CC0 Public Domain.
A lesson written by Carol Hulbert from: First United Methodist Church, Ann Arbor, MI