Hands: Growing Up To Be An Artist

Written By: Lois Ehlert

Before Reading

Explore Illustrations and Text:

Consider the front cover and illustrations throughout the book before beginning your read-through. Ask questions like these to encourage your child to make initial observations and predictions about the story:

What do you notice on the cover? Let’s see if we can name all of these colors. Which color is your favorite?

Can you name some things that you do with your hands?

Do you like to make art? What is your favorite art project? Painting? Coloring? Playing with clay or playdough?  

Do you want to be an artist when you grow up? If not, what do you want to be?

As You Read

The flaps in this book make for a more interactive story-time, sparking your child’s curiosity and helping him/her stay engaged while pulling back the flaps to reveal what’s underneath. Let your child explore any flaps or illustrations that s/he finds interesting and discuss certain elements that jump out to you as well.

Making Connections:

Ask your child questions that will help him/her connect what is happening in the story to his/her own world. For example, when the narrator discusses how his/her father measures with his ruler, say, “We use rulers around the house too. I use a ruler to …..” Some examples could be to draw a straight line or measure and compare the size of two things. Ask your child if s/he can think of other ways that you can use a ruler. If you can find a ruler at home, use it as a tool during your reading to measure things around you like this book, a pencil, your child’s hands, etc.

After Reading

Summarize and Interpret:

Allow your child to make any concluding comments or observations and ask questions like these to gauge his/her understanding of the story:

Did you like that story? Why or why not?

How did the dad and mom use their hands in the story?

Is there anything in the story that you haven’t made but you would like to?

In the Author’s Note, Lois Ehlert describes his childhood and how he had a folding table at home that was his own space to work on art projects. Ask your child, “Do you have a space where you like to do your crafts?” Even if it is just a small space or corner, help your child find an area where s/he can continuously go to brainstorm and create. Encourage him/her to set up the space so that s/he feels comfortable and can feel free to create at any time.

Activity: Bead Bowl


Adapted from Sherri Foxman

Supplies: oven proof bowl, beads of any color, and cooking spray

As this story demonstrates, art doesn’t always involve a paintbrush and canvas, but can be created using many different mediums. Help your child see this first-hand by making this fun bead bowl craft.

  1. First, spray the inside of the bowl with cooking spray to allow the beads to stick to it’s surface.
  2. Place a handful of beads in at a time and push down, allowing them to rise up the sides of the bowl and stick. You can also get really creative and make designs or words by using different color patterns and shapes. Include your child’s name, make cool zig-zag patterns, or anything else you might think up.
  3. Once most of the inside of the bowl is covered, bake the bowl in the oven or a toaster oven for 10-15 minutes at 400 degrees. The longer you leave it in, the more the beans will melt together.
  4. Take the bowl out of the oven using mitts and let it cool for a few minutes. Run cold water over the beads and pull your bowl out of the baking bowl.

And there you have it! Your child can use his/her bowl to hold toys, crayons, or anything else s/he may have laying around.


Looking for more hands-on activities? Here are some great activity ideas from Kids Activities Blog that will really get this little fingers working. Here's a really simple one, and all you need is marshmallows and toothpicks!