Category: Activities

Yale Center for British Art and Chapel Haven Create Public Art and Raise Autism Awareness

Blue birdhourse handing in tree in front of brick building

The Yale Center for British Art and Chapel Haven, a residential school and independent living facility for people with cognitive and social disabilities, hosted a program on Feb. 20 to build a public sculpture and raise awareness of autism spectrum disorders.

Exploring Artism participants helped to create an environmentally inviting bird sanctuary and site-specific sculpture at Chapel Haven, located at 1040 Whalley Ave. in New Haven. For more information, please click here and here.

two children kneeling and painting half pipes.
Exploring Artism participants prepping elements for the outdoor bird sanctuary.

Life-Size Game Board!

On Saturday, Nov. 19, families joined YCBA Education staff at Chapel Haven for 2015’s final Exploring Artism. The program begins again in February 2016.


There are many varieties of board games and participants made their own board game life-size. First, they named games that each had played before and together they created a new game with their very own rules, pieces, and u-shaped game board spanning the floor.

Picture of two drawings on square cardboard.
Drawing ideas for game pieces.

Together, participants designed the layout and rules for “their game.” It was difficult to stop playing at the end of the session because everyone was having so much fun.

The game in play.
The game in play.

The Yale Center for British Art and Chapel Haven wish everyone a happy new year. We can’t wait to get together again for Exploring Artism on Feb. 20, 2016 at Chapel Haven.

Trees à la Gustav Klimt

Participants sitting around a table.
Intro to the first Exploring Artism of the fall.

Sept. 19 welcomed family and friends back to Chapel Haven for the YCBA’s Exploring Artism program. The topic of this month’s lesson was Austrian artist, Gustav Klimt and his trees.

Boy standing and looking at Klimt painting of tree.
Participants looking at a painting of a tree made by Klimt.

Participants looked closely at a few different trees painted by Klimt then used the iPad app PlayART (for purchase here). Each participant was able to create their own digital Klimt “painting.”

Boy and mom using ipad while docent watches.
Using the PlayArt app on the ipad.

After composing Klimt compositions on the ipad, participants looked to their handout to inspire their own large, gold tree paintings.

Kids use foam brushes to paint gold trees.
Participants begin painting their trees.

After painting the tree trunk and branches, participants bedazzled their trees with gems, sequins, and foil shapes for their very own Klimt-inspired tree.

Girls share shapes to glue to their tree compositoin.
Girls sharing additions to bedazzle their tree.

Fun was had by all and we look forward to our next meeting on Saturday, Oct. 17.

All the Buildings… we made… so far…

Children sit around a table with cardboard shapes and paper
Children working with shapes found in buildings.

June’s Exploring Artism participants created their own buildings from assorted shapes along with making and printing their own collagraphs. Inspired by outlines and shapes of buildings drawn by James Gulliver Hancock on his website and in his book, All the Buildings in New York: That I’ve Drawn So Far, participants created their own buildings using cardboard, foam pieces, paper, and black or white ink.

Children gluing pieces to paper to make a collagraph plate.
Designing their building collagraph plate with shapes.

After designing their own building, participants glued down the pieces then inked and printed their collograph plates. Click Here for a fun tutorial about collagraphy shared by I. K. Tolbert on youtube.

Inking their collagraph plates
Inking their collagraph plates

After rolling ink over the entire collagraph plate, participants carefully printed their work. Some decided that their collagraph plate in itself was the finished work of art.

Child stamping ink onto his collagraph plate before printing.
Adding to his collagraph plate.

Fun was had by all as we created our own unique city. A giant THANK YOU goes out to our program volunteers, as well as Tina Menchetti and Chapel Haven for hosting our program.


Artism Explores Antarctica!

In our most recent Exploring Artism session at Chapel Haven, participants and their families explored chilly Antarctica through photographs of landscape and animals.

Iceberg coloring bookAs a warm-up, everyone colored the photo above. Then, in preparation for our final group composition, we placed two large sheets of deli paper against the wall. The top piece of paper was left white (for the snowy land) and everyone worked together to paint the lower piece of paper a watery blue (for the water).
|Tracing the Landscape
Looking at Animals

After our introductions and review of the schedule, we looked at THIS PowerPoint of Antarctic landscape and animals. We asked questions about what we saw in these images: What do we see in these images? What colors? What shapes? What animals? Describe what you see on the animal? 

Next, we decided to make some of our own animals to populate the glacial landscape we created at the beginning of our session. First, each participant selected the animal that they wanted to create. Here were our animal templates: Small Seal, Whale, Elephant Seal, and Penguin. In order to add a 3D aspect to our arctic scene, participants were asked to cut out two outlines of their animal, but only decorate one. Then, once participants finished decorating their animal, we began stapling the two cutouts together along the edges (with the decorated animal on the outside). Before the cutout was stapled all the way around, participants stuffed the animal with plastic garbage bags (or grocery bags) to give their creature a more lifelike appearance. Each participant was then asked to place their animal somewhere on the Antarctic landscape. The Water and Landscape
Stuffed Animals on the landscape

Exploring Artism: Henri Matisse

Last Saturday the Yale Center for British Art held its first Exploring Artism of the new year at the Chapel Haven location. The program focused on the paintings and style of Henri Matisse.

We began our session by talking about the different art supplies and shapes Matisse used in his artworks. HERE is the warm-up activity we used. After understanding the difference between geometric and organic shapes, we had the opportunity to make our own shapes with paper and markers.

As part of our warm-up, each participant was given a large cardboard rectangle and tasked with painting the background of their future Matisse-inspired composition. After each participant had painted their background, the artworks were left to dry as the group looked at different materials and shapes that Matisse used.

Using the iPads, participants were able to use an app created by the Museum of Modern Art called “Art Lab.” One of the activities in the Art Lab involves “cutting” shapes by tracing them with your finger, and then using those shapes to create a digital composition. HERE is the link to the MoMA Art Lab App.

Using the iPads
Next, we watched a short video of Matisse assembling one of his artworks. HERE is a link to the YouTube video.

Next, we looked at some examples of the cutouts that Matisse often made with his scissors and examples of some of the artwork he created with those shapes. Participants were asked to identify the shapes as geometric or organic. What colors were present? How many colors? How do you think the artist made this? The group concluded that Matisse was able to “paint” with scissors.



Each participant then returned to their cardboard painting to attach some geometric and organic cutouts to their composition. Each participant was given 5-10 different colored sheets of paper, a pair of scissors, templates of Matisse-like shapes to trace, and some pre-cut shapes for participants with difficulty tracing and cutting. Using glue sticks and paper, each participant created their very own Matisse inspired artwork!

Angus Presenting His Artwork

Scott Presenting his Artwork

Crowns and Headwear

This last weekend our Exploring Artism program looked at the various kinds of headwear and crowns on the sculptures in the Sculpture Victorious exhibition at the Yale Center for British Art.

We began our session by looking through our social story on our new iPads! Our warm up activity consisted of various crowns that we had the option of decorating with markers. HERE are some examples of the warm up activity.
Next, we used the Hats&Caps app on our iPads (find it here) to get a chance to “try on” some crowns. Here are some photos from our Hats&Caps activity:Alexander in his crownEwan in Hat app crownNext, we headed into the gallery to look at some crowns on the statues in our temporary exhibition. Sitting around each sculpture, participants were asked some of the following questions: Is there anything you notice on the head of the sculpture? What do you see? What colors? How many? What are they made of? How do you think the artist made this? Why is this person portrayed in this way? Who gets to wear a crown?

Next, we played a crown matching game in the gallery. The game, which you can find here, consisted of 20 cards which can be matched to create 10 pairs. Participants had the option of laying all of their cards face up and making matches by looking at the different crowns OR laying the cards face down and playing a memory matching game. Once everyone had a chance to play the matching game, we went back into the Docent Room to make our own crowns. Portia and Ashley Matching GameBack in the Docent Room, participants were able to make two different crowns our of paper plates. The first, explained here, was a six-prong crown made by cutting a paper plate and folding the points. The second, explained here, was a tiara-style headpiece which was made by cutting a paper plate in half, removing the semi-circle center, and adding holes at each end. To save time for our activity, we had all of our crowns pre-cut; all the participants had to do was decorate (using metallic paint, fake jewels, and foam pieces) and assemble.

Making the crownsEveryone had the chance to share their finished crown with the rest of the group. Ewan wearing his crown

Coins and Medallions!

This past Saturday, our Exploring Artism participants were able to take a look at some of the intricate coins and medallions from Hong Kong, Canada, Jamaica and India in our Sculpture Victorious exhibition.

We started our morning with thinking about what we keep in our pockets and purses? What do we use today that was also used a long time ago? Money? Coins? We then reviewed different parts of a coin using this warm-up worksheet. After learning about the different parts of a coin, we were then able to design our own coin using this template.

Working on the warm up activity
Working on the warm up activity

Next, we moved into the galleries to look at some of the coins and medallions in the Sculpture Victorious exhibition. Here are some examples of the coins we looked at:

Half Rupee, 1899
Half Rupee, 1899
Victoria Medallion (from Diamond Jubilee), 1897
Victoria Medallion (from Diamond Jubilee), 1897

After looking at the different coins presented, participants were asked to describe what they saw. What colors are on the coins? How many colors? What are they made of? How do you think the artist made this? Why did they choose the images that they did? Why is there commonly a portrait on each one? Are the people depicted important?

Looking at and talking about coins in the exhibition
Looking at and talking about coins in the exhibition

Sample coins and paper were handed out to participants, and everyone was able to draw their own coins using the Victorian coins and medallions as inspiration.

Back in the Docent Room, participants were able to use the designs they worked on in the galleries to create their own coins. Using foam printing paper, pencils, Model Magic Clay, metallic paint, brushes, and rolling pins for pressing the design, we were able to make our own coins. First, participants drew two designs (one for the obverse and one for the reverse side of the coin); it is important to stress simple lines and shape within the coin design. Also note that any text are numbers must be drawn in reverse.

Making the coin design
Making the coin design

Next, we taped this design to the foam printing paper; participants were then able to re-trace the design, pressing down and imprinting the foam sheet. After making sure that the imprints into the foam were deep enough, participants then pressed the Model Magic clay into the imprint, making sure the clay covered the entire circle. Next, we placed the second foam design over the top, lined up the edges, and used tape to secure both foam pieces together and finally applied pressure through a rolling pin or heavy book. After a few moments of pressure, the foam was pulled away and the excess clay was cut away with a scissors. Participants had the option of various metallic paints to add finishing decorations to their coins.

Painting the finished coin
Painting the finished coin

Everyone had the opportunity to share their coin with the rest of the group.

Next Exploring Artism: Sat., June 21, 2014

Creating McLean inspired artwork

Exploring Artism: A Program for Families

A free program for families with children 5 to 12 years of age on the autism spectrum. Families learn to look and respond to art work in the museum’s galleries. Join us and engage in group conversations in the galleries, a follow-up art project in a museum classroom, and much more. While we have taken into account the needs of individuals with autism in designing this program, it is intended to be fun for parents, siblings, and other relatives too!

Free but pre-registration is required. Please e-mail: or call 203 432 2858 with your name, number, and a good time to reach you on the telephone. A museum educator will contact you by phone to complete your registration.