Starry Night Lesson Plan for Elementary School

Instructor: Jennifer Lowery

Jennifer has taught elementary levels K-3 and has master's degrees in elementary education and curriculum/instruction and educational leadership.

Vincent Van Gogh was a talented painter whose creation ' The Starry Night' is world famous. In this lesson plan, students will learn the background of the artist, the story behind the painting, and will recreate the famous artwork using the same techniques as Van Gogh himself!

Learning Objectives

After this lesson students will be able to:

  • understand and discuss Vincent Van Gogh's background and life
  • describe the story behind Van Gogh's painting 'The Starry Night'
  • recreate 'The Starry Night' using the same techniques as Van Gogh


  • 45 - 60 minutes

Curriculum Standards


Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers.


Determine the main idea of a text; recount the key details and explain how they support the main idea.


Describe the relationship between a series of historical events, scientific ideas or concepts, or steps in technical procedures in a text, using language that pertains to time, sequence, and cause/effect.


  • asylum
  • canvas
  • brushstroke
  • texture
  • movement


  • copies of the lesson The Starry Night by Van Gogh: Lesson for Kids and the lesson quiz, one copy per student
  • large pieces of white construction paper, one per student
  • paintbrushes
  • cups of water
  • paints (blue, yellow, green, black, white)
  • large image of 'The Starry Night' to display for students
  • image of the Museum of Modern Art in New York
  • smocks for students (it may also be a good idea to inform parents prior to the lesson that students will need to wear older clothes since they will be painting)


  • Ask students to close their eyes, and imagine what they might see if they walked outside on a clear night. They can share their ideas with a partner, or choose volunteers to share with the class.
  • Tell them that they will be learning about an artist who created a famous painting called 'The Starry Night.' Put the large image of 'The Starry Night' on display for students to see.
  • Briefly review and discuss the vocabulary terms, and ask students to listen for them as the lesson continues.
  • Distribute copies of the lesson The Starry Night by Van Gogh: Lesson for Kids to students.
  • Have students read the 'Who Was Van Gogh?' section. After reading, use the following prompts to start a class discussion:
    • What is an asylum?
    • Why was Van Gogh frustrated, and how did he wind up in an asylum?
  • Have students read the 'How Did He Compose 'The Starry Night'?' section of the lesson; then pose the following questions:
    • How did Van Gogh use memory and imagination to create 'The Starry Night'?
    • Do you think 'The Starry Night' would have been created if Van Gogh had not gone to an asylum? Why or why not?
  • Have students read the 'What Techniques Did He Use?' section of the text lesson. Ask students to recall from their reading how 'The Starry Night' was created, and the techniques Van Gogh used for the painting.
  • Distribute brushes and paper to students, and give the following instructions:
    • Let's practice the brushstrokes that Van Gogh used. Take your brush and make imaginary swirls on your canvas.
    • Now practice making some soft rolling hills, just like Van Gogh's.
    • Try some thick straight strokes like those he used to paint the village.
  • Have students read the lesson section 'Where is 'The Starry Night' Now?' and show the image of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
  • Read the 'Lesson Summary' section, and give each student a lesson quiz to check for understanding.

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