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Starry Starry Night Unit Study

Updated on January 18, 2018

Starry Night Unit Study

Starry Night Sky
Starry Night Sky | Source

Stars all around the Classroom

From stars in the sky to stars on canvas, this unit study will give you dozens of ideas, resources, hints and tricks to create starry-themed activities for both homeschool families and classrooms.

Learn about Vincent Van Gogh's Starry Starry Night painting technique. Listen to Don McClean's tribute to Van Gogh. Sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and other sky related songs.

Write your own Astronomy stories. Make star themed word walls, pointers for Write the Room activities, Spell the Star Words. Open your eyes and look for the stars....

Van Gogh's Sky

Self Portrait of Vincent van Gogh
Self Portrait of Vincent van Gogh | Source

Vincent Van Gogh painted Starry Starry Night

Starry Starry night was painted by Vincent Van Gogh

Vincent Van Gogh looked up at the sky and imagined it the way a slow exposure camera does with long swirling streaks of light.

  • Go outside on a dark summer night.
  • Bring a blanket and a lawn chair
  • Let your eyes adjust to the darkness
  • Watch for falling stars
  • Look for Constellations
  • Take slow exposure pictures

Try drawing or painting what you observed

Starry Starry Night

Starry Starry Night
Starry Starry Night | Source

Starry Starry Night by Van Gogh

1. Look at Van Gogh's painting of Starry Night and describe what you see in the painting and how it makes you feel. Do the stars in Van Gogh's sky have five points? How would you draw stars?

2. Look at the swirls showing the wind. Notice how the short circular brush strokes and all the different shades of blue give the feeling of the wind blowing.

3. Using large black or dark blue construction paper and pastels take turns drawing the blue, white and yellow circular strokes of the wind.

4. Now focus on the buildings. What shapes do you see? Notice that the windows are left blank instead of outlined.

5. Let the children make their own Starry Starry Night drawings.

NOTE: Hairspray works as an inexpensive fixative.

6. Share the drawings and ask the children to explain how they used Van Gogh's techniques. Write their responses on chart paper.

7. WRITING WORKSHOP: Talk about what could be happening in their drawings. Who are the people in the houses? What are they doing? What animals would be awake at that time of night? What might they be doing?

11. Make a list of words the children might need for writing on the board. Allow the children to write about their drawings, helping by adding words to the board as needed.

Drawing a Starry Starry Night - Learning to Draw Like Vincent Van Gogh

Stary Night
Stary Night | Source

Recreating Van Gogh's Starry Starry Night

Children at the San Jose Library in California learned how to create a painting in the style of Vincent Van Gogh's Starry Starry Night.

This photo was the inspiration for this unit study. Each group of children I have introduced this activity to has thoroughly enjoyed it and been proud of making their own version of a Starry Starry Night.

Create you own Vincent VanGogh Painting

Zelfportret als schilder, Vincent van Gogh (1888)
Zelfportret als schilder, Vincent van Gogh (1888) | Source

Drawing Like Vincent Van Gogh - Drawing Starry Starry Night

Drawing Starry Starry Night
Drawing Starry Starry Night | Source

12. Allow the children to share their writing, rewrite, add to their Starry Starry Night stories. Edit them and finally publish their star themed stories with their drawings.

By allowing these books to be borrowed from your classroom library, children may share their stories with parents and families. The Starry Starry Night books can then go home at the end of the year.

Vincent Van Gogh - Speed Drawing Video - Make your own class book.

Set this video up in your classroom theater. Put some drawing paper and pencils in the art center. Put a three ring notebook with page protectors in the writing center. Set up the computer center for writing and editing stories about their drawings.

After watching the video, children draw a picture, write about it, and then put the picture with their writing in page protectors in the three ring notebook.

This notebook is then added to the classroom library to be read during silent reading or to the whole class.

Van Gogh's painting of Starry Starry Night inspires experimentation not only in art but also in writing. Read lots of books about the night sky in fiction as well as non-fiction and then suggest that the children write their own Starry Starry Night story.

Be sure to have the children illustrate their stories and publish them so that they can be put in the classroom library for all to read. The following are some of my children's favorite books about starry nights.

Starry Starry Field Trip - Stars at the Art Museum

Two Teenagers Sit Against a Wall Sketching in the Toledo Museum of Art
Two Teenagers Sit Against a Wall Sketching in the Toledo Museum of Art | Source

Sketching at the Art Museum

Museum Art: Bring along a sketchbook and pencil for each child. As you find paintings with stars look at the number of points. Look at the colors used to paint each star. Look at the placement of the star or stars in relation to the other objects in the painting. Are the stars the focus of the painting or the background.

Sketch some of the stars that you find.

Starry Museum Math: On the back of the paper, keep a tally of the number of stars you found. Talk about the number of paintings in the room with stars verses the number of paintings without stars and express that as a ratio.

Sing and Learn to Read

Don McLean's song Vincent starts out with the words, "Starry, Starry Night". with pictures by Vincent Van Gogh.

Show the children pictures of Vincent Van Gogh's paintings while listening to the song. Can you find stars in both Van Gogh's paintings as well as in the music? With the children, create a poster with the words to Don McLean's song accompanied by paintings by Vincent Van Gogh. Laminate the poster and sing the song often to help children learn to read the words and get a better sense of appreciation for paintings such a Starry Starry Night.

Extension: Have the children draw stars with dry erase markers over the star words in the song.

You might use these to make a chart for shared reading as well as a book and tape for the listening center. This would also make a great Power Point Presentation to be shown in your classroom Theater. The vocabulary seems very high for K-1 but I have found that when exposed to high level vocabulary in a fun and interesting setting children will listen to it repeatedly until meaning comes to them.

Starry, starry night.

Paint your palette blue and gray...

Make a Starry Starry Bulletin Board

Orion | Source

Twinkle Star Bulletin Board

Cover the bulletin board with black paper or paint a wall with Black Chalkboard Paint. Then take pictures of your children, cut out their faces, attach them to large Gold Foil Paper stars and post them on the bulletin board. Consider posting them in such a way that they can get rearranged often.

Next, teach the children this variation on the Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star Song:

Twinkle, twinkle little star,

How I wonder where you are,

Up above the world so high,

Like a diamond in the sky.

Twinkle, twinkle little star.

How I wonder where you are!

The teacher says, " I wonder where ________ is?" and hands the star tipped pointer to a child who finds the picture of the mentioned child and points to it.

This game is wonderful for helping children get to know each other's names. It can be used as a greeting for Morning Meeting or by changing the children's pictures to their names can be used for beginning reading activities especially when they are learning capital letters in either print or cursive.

Favorite Star Activity Poll

Which star activity is your favorite?

See results

How do you use famous paintings in your teaching? - Starry Night Inspirations

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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I love the way you use so much more than just the basic book to study this. I'm sure your kids love to have you being the teacher. Great lens and some great ideas!

    • SheGetsCreative profile image

      Angela F 

      6 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Lots of fun ways to teach about stars and art!

    • publicdomain lm profile image

      publicdomain lm 

      7 years ago

      Awesome information. My son loves staring at the stars. Partly because it's a way to get me to let him stay up late, but also because he's fascinated by the vastness of the universe. He also loves 'doing real science' through the crowdsourced projects as

    • EdmondHoggeJr profile image


      7 years ago

      A little bit about all the stars and info well done!

    • WhiteOak50 profile image


      7 years ago

      You have created a very nice page here. Stars are magical especially when you stand outside at night just stare at them. One of my favorite things to see is a shooting star.

    • Blackspaniel1 profile image


      7 years ago

      Good work

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 

      7 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      I think using famous paintings in your teaching is so important and love how you explain that here.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      What a wonderful unit study! I can't wait to try these ideas with my kids. I am pinning this on Pinterest!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      nice lens

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I can't identify the constellations or stars for the life of me. Teaching childrens the constellations is good because some of them can be used like a compass.

    • krakensquid profile image


      7 years ago

      Another outstanding lens, great work!

    • darciefrench lm profile image

      darciefrench lm 

      7 years ago

      May the stars always shine bright for you and yours. Happy holidays and many blessings for the new year.

    • waldenthreenet profile image


      7 years ago

      interesting approach by drawing, learn science. Have another. Inspired by "great minds'. Doing one on Galileo Galilei . Kids will be amazed and inspired by this great mind of the past !

    • Paki Bazar profile image

      Paki Bazar 

      7 years ago

      @anaamhussain: i love this blog you are working really good



    • Paki Bazar profile image

      Paki Bazar 

      7 years ago

      i love this blog you are working really good



    • anaamhussain profile image


      7 years ago

      Wow what a fascinating lens! I loved it. Good work :)

    • Heather426 profile image

      Heather Burns 

      7 years ago from Wexford, Ireland

      Had to come back by and bless one of my fave lenses on Squidoo.:)

    • nolinel lm profile image

      nolinel lm 

      7 years ago

      Great informative lens...

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Great lens. Starry Night is my favorite Van Gogh painting (probably because I love astronomy). Lenses like this are a great way to get more people interested in both the arts and sciences and to show that they are connected and not totally separate disciplines. Keep up the good work.

    • lollyj lm profile image

      Laurel Johnson 

      7 years ago from Washington KS

      Your lenses are always so exceptional. Even though I'm many decades from being a school age child, I learn a lot. I especially loved this one, using art to teach and inspire.

    • Wedding Mom profile image

      Wedding Mom 

      8 years ago

      A very wonderful lens indeed you have here. I admire Vincent van Gogh painting particularly Stary Night. I've read that he actually painted that picture while he was in a mental asylum in France. He was able to capture such beauty and tranquility despite his situation.

    • sushilkin lm profile image

      sushilkin lm 

      8 years ago

      Such a nice lens. Thanks for Sharing !!

    • Violin-Student profile image


      8 years ago

      Got a chance to see Starry Night a few years back when it traveled with a Met exhibit to Houston. It was one of my favorites when I was young and lived near NYC. A print of the painting hangs in my office. I guess I need to pick up a matching print of Starry Night Over the Rhone, but haven't done so yet. I also enjoy Don McLean's song about Van Gogh, Vincent, often referred to as "Starry Starry Night."

      Pardon me...I ramble.

      Well, thanks for this pleasant way to start off my day!

      -Art Haule

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      i love van gogh. art therapy is for all ages. You can teach kids to express themselves, feelings, emotions in a positive way and it helps them relax and diffuse them when angry. Coloring is great too. blog rolling lenses :)

    • lasertek lm profile image

      lasertek lm 

      8 years ago

      This is pretty interesting! There are so many creative ideas you have shared on this lens.

    • KokoTravel profile image


      8 years ago

      My grandson is just a year and 'sings' Twinkle Twinkle with his mommy and me... course there are no words, but he knows he is singing with us.

      Teaching kids starts at the moment they are conceived... they can absorb far more than we think.

    • mariaamoroso profile image


      8 years ago from Sweden

      My granddaughter sung Twinkle twinkle to me on Skype the other day. van Gogh is unbelievable skilled

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      You are an awesome person! Wish I could have had you for a teacher! Another fabulous lens!

    • javr profile image


      8 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Orion is a great constellation to teach children. It's very visible, even from most large cities. Of course, it's quite stunning from a very dark countryside location. Good points here!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      This is a great lens. Thanks for making it. Very informative. I gave you a thumbs up

      cause I like your lens.

    • evelynsaenz1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Evelyn Saenz 

      9 years ago from Royalton

      @makingamark: Vincent Van Gogh's work can inspire children to amazing artistic endeavors.

    • makingamark profile image

      Katherine Tyrrell 

      9 years ago from London

      What a really excellent lens - so nice to see some high quality content on a lens designed to help with teaching kids - 5* (and that's from a trained teacher with a degree in Education!)

      If you think more information about Van Gogh and his paintings might be useful to those using this lens for home schooling and school projects you might like to link to/lensroll my site Vincent Van Gogh - Resources for Art Lovers which has just been awarded a purple star

    • evelynsaenz1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Evelyn Saenz 

      9 years ago from Royalton

      @eclecticeducati1: Thank you so much for your starry links. I am shooting off into the stars to check out your lenses.

    • eclecticeducati1 profile image


      9 years ago

      I love this!!! Two of my favorite subjects- Astronomy and Van Gogh, all mixed in one! :) Blessed by an Angel and I'm lensrolling to both my Van Gogh page and my Astronomy for kids page. Great job!

    • evelynsaenz1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Evelyn Saenz 

      9 years ago from Royalton

      @AlisonMeacham: Thank you for the SquidAngel Blessing.

    • AlisonMeacham profile image


      9 years ago

      As always Evelyn you have written such a brilliant lens with such great resources. Angel Blessings to you

    • eccles1 profile image


      9 years ago

      love this lens

    • Heather426 profile image

      Heather Burns 

      9 years ago from Wexford, Ireland

      Blessed by a Squid Angel today!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      OMG! Evelyn my dear, I do think that I am surely seeing stars! I love Starry Starry Night -- it sounds musical. ;)

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Well crafted and enjoyable lens. I love the stars. Something mystical about them. I met you on Twitter. Hope you will visit my new lens about emotional healing. Gary Eby, author and therapist.

    • Heather426 profile image

      Heather Burns 

      10 years ago from Wexford, Ireland

      Love this lens. Have a Starry Starry Night print in my office. I wish you had been my kids' teacher. so creative.5*

    • profile image

      Donnette Davis 

      10 years ago from South Africa

      What a delightful lens. I have featured it on my new page "universe-for-kids"

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      wow this page is heaps of fun! I love it. I am going to be busy with reading through this lens all night. Telescope Photography

    • jimmielanley profile image

      Jimmie Quick 

      10 years ago from Memphis, TN, USA

      another fun theme

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      I never knew there were more verses to Twinkle Twinkle. I think the activities here are great. I do wander if there is something more visual that could be down with the constellations - to aid learning them... By the way - for pictures of the stars, google for NGC2264 - a truly beautiful nebulae. 5* lens.

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 

      10 years ago from Arkansas USA

      I wish I were still teaching; I'd use this lens to teach one of my favorite subjects. Another great, comprehensive resource for teachers everywhere. I love your lenses! (Lensrolling to my Homeschool Planners lens.)

    • Stazjia profile image

      Carol Fisher 

      10 years ago from Warminster, Wiltshire, UK

      Another great lens. Welcome to the Art & Design group.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Another great lens, Evelyn! I always enjoy your work; you are a tremendous resource and valued contributor to all of my groups!

      Great job,


      : )

      Welcome to Connie's Craft-a-Holics Club at Squidoo!

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      I love that you incorporated the Arts in your lens about the STARS. Don McLean's beautiful tribute to Vincent Van Gogh always makes me teary.

    • Becca Sanz profile image

      Becca Sanz 

      11 years ago

      Your lens is very informative. Staying healthy is very important. I hope you will support movement to promote Healthy Food on college campuses.

    • Jenafern profile image


      11 years ago

      Love this lens! Stars, star-related projects for kids, art & artists - wonderful! 5 stars!

    • Deborah Swain profile image

      Deborah Swain 

      11 years ago from Rome, Italy

      Another wonderful's another activity for kids! Collecting Used Thematic Postage Stamps!

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Evelyn, I just love your lenses! You always offer such extensive resources; and fabulous writing! Thanks for providing such great resources for homeschoolers. You are a treasure trove of knowledge! 5 stars & a Big Favorite!


      : )

    • chefkeem profile image

      Achim Thiemermann 

      11 years ago from Austin, Texas

      I wanna be a kid again and you must be my teacher, Evelyn! Well, dream on, Chef Keem...actually, this old geezer is learning so much from all of your most interesting lenses, and this lens is another masterpiece. 5 twinkles!

    • rwoman profile image


      11 years ago

      Wonderful lens! If you need some inspiration check out my lens.

    • mythphile profile image

      Ellen Brundige 

      11 years ago from California

      Great lens for little astronomers! My grandma would've approved.

      Speaking of grandma, she had an el cheapo way of painting lunar dioramas for the displays in the hall outside her planetarium that you might find useful. She'd mix laundry detergent and water and paint it on black construction paper. It glowed under black light (those purple lights so popular in the sixties). She'd use fluorescent paints to draw Jupiter and other planets. I loved playing with the soap and paints too, making up my own outer space scenes. The soap tends to be a bit thick, so you wind up with a marvellously textured paint!

      I still have to have glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling of my bedroom, even in my late 30s. The paint is invisible until you turn the lights out.

    • Tiddledeewinks LM profile image

      Tiddledeewinks LM 

      11 years ago

      Great educational lens. I wish I had Squidoo earlier during homeschooling. What a great educational tool this can be for EVERYONE! 5*'s and I added to my favorites and lensrolled it!

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      WOW. What a brilliant and entertaining lens! Just fabulous. Thanks for your kind comments as well ;)

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Fantastic! Thanks for checking out my lens. What a great job you've done in creating this lens. A wealth of information, ideas and very inspirational!

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Hi, Evelyn. Thank you for checking out my lens. I love your lens and you have shared a lot of great information. Will definitely lensroll you to my education lens.

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      I love your lens - you are sharing some really good information! Good Job!

    • profile image


      11 years ago




    • Becca Sanz profile image

      Becca Sanz 

      11 years ago

      Thank you for sending me your Squidcast. Your lenses are always a joy to read. I hope you will support movement to promote Healthy Food on college campuses.

    • frances lm profile image

      frances lm 

      11 years ago

      Lots of nice ideas. Well done.

    • Classic LM profile image

      Classic LM 

      11 years ago

      Thanks for submitting your great lens to my group Nature and Environment! It deserves 6 stars, but only 5 are available...

    • frances lm profile image

      frances lm 

      11 years ago

      Nice lens with lots of good ideas

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      very interesting lens

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Thanks for the lyrics of "We Three Kings of Orient Are". English being my second language, I really appreciate this.


    • Pierce This 2 profile image

      Pierce This 2 

      11 years ago

      Nice job. One of my favorite paintings! How to measure a belly button ring size

    • MeganCasey profile image


      11 years ago

      who knew it was so easy to paint like van gogh! ;) thanks for the clever lens.

    • groovyoldlady profile image


      11 years ago

      An unusual lens. I like it!

    • Eevee LM profile image

      Eevee LM 

      11 years ago

      What great ideas! 5 stars


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