¡Magnífico! Frida Kahlo's Art Inspires Little Artists to Tell Their Own Story

Let your little one drive her own bus (we mean that figuratively, of course)! This November, four-year-olds in our centers explore the art of Frida Kahlo and study her painting The Bus, which depicts everyday life in Mexico.

In our classrooms, Kahlo’s bus painting gives kids a chance to imagine the stories behind her powerful painting, and then to tell their own stories—and the stories of their community, in their own way. Here are five easy ways to experience Kahlo’s work with your budding artist. All you need is paper, crayons, and a big imagination to get started.  

1. Brush up on your Frida facts.

Frida Kahlo grew up south of Mexico City, Mexico in the 1900s, where she took up painting in her teens. Using symbols, rustic imagery, and colors common in Mexican culture, Kahlo painted pictures of people and things in her community. Kahlo was an avid advocate for the rights of women and indigenous people in Mexico, and that passion is reflected in many of her paintings, including The Bus.  

2. Hop on the bus.

Kahlo’s 1929 painting The Bus features a group of regular people at a bus stop. Look at the painting with your child and together, imagine the story behind the painting. Ask a few open-ended questions to spark his imagination. Try: “Where are these people going? What will they see out of the bus windows? Why are they dressed differently? What will happen at the end of the ride?”


3. Draw your own story.

As your child imagines the story behind Kahlo’s painting, write it down! Make a book for her story by folding several sheets of paper in half and stapling them together along the folded crease (or simply use a blank journal). Use several pages to write out the story as she imagines it—and leave plenty of space for her to draw her own illustrations! Break out the crayons, markers, or colored pencils, and let your little one fill in all the details of the bus-trip adventure.

4. Add a self-portrait!

Frida Kahlo is perhaps best known for her striking and colorful self-portraits, so encourage your kiddo to draw himself in his story. Kahlo almost always included her characteristic features (thick eyebrows and flowers in her hair) in her self-portraits. How does your young artist see himself? Does he include his curly, brown hair? A big smile? His favorite pair of shoes? Explore ways to make a self-portrait that really expresses his unique self.  


5. Share your own family’s bus experiences.

As your child draws illustrations for her story, talk with her about her own experiences with public transportation. Has she been on a bus? A train? An airplane? Where did she go on those trips? Kahlo used fine art as a bridge to connect to the very real world around her, and a few thoughtful questions can lead your child to do the same!
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