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Storytime & Artmaking: Tar Beach

Take inspiration from Faith Ringgold's Tar Beach to create a collage of places that are special to you. (While this activity is inspired by a book, you do not need to read the book to do the activity.)

About the Book

Ringgold recounts the dream adventure of eight-year-old Cassie Louise Lightfoot, who flies above her apartment-building rooftop, the ‘tar beach’ of the title, looking down on 1939 Harlem. Part autobiographical, part fictional, this allegorical tale sparkles with symbolic and historical references central to African-American culture. The spectacular artwork resonates with color and texture. Children will delight in the universal dream of mastering one’s world by flying over it. 

Getting Started

  • Where would you go if you could fly to any special place? 
  • Who would you bring with you?  
  • What patterns make you think of home?

Materials

  • Pencil 
  • Markers, color pencils, and/or crayons  
  • Scissors  
  • Glue 
  • Paper (2–4 sheets)  
  • Ruler (optional)

Artmaking Activity

1. Use pencil to draw a border and squares. You can use a ruler if you want straight lines.

2. In the squares, draw patterns or designs.

3. Color in your patterns or designs.

4. On a separate piece of paper, draw places that have special meaning for you. 

5. Cut out your special places.

6. Glue your cut-out special places in the empty space on your other sheet of paper.

7. Draw yourself flying above the landscape!

Vocabulary

Collage: Art made by cutting up materials such as paper, fabric, and/or newspaper and then gluing them together to make a picture. 

Composition: The placement of visual elements like a layout

Landscape: a painting or drawing whose primary focus is scenery, such as mountains, forests, buildings, etc.  

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