For the Multicultural Kid Blogger’s World Cup series, I am presenting on several different countries that are participating. Today’s country is Mexico! Today we’ll look at a famous Mexican artist named Frida Kahlo, make our own self-portrait in her style, and learn about many different on-line lessons for kids.
Have you heard of Friday Kahlo? You might recognize the brilliant Mexican artist by her self-portraits. Check out this video that morphs several of Frida Kahlo’s self-portraits in and out. In my opinion, all of the paintings shown are appropriate for kids:
Frida Kahlo: Biography for Kids
Frida Kahlo was born in Coyoacán, Mexico (just south of Mexico City) in La Casa Azul (which is now a museum, see above photo) July 6, 1907. She grew up in this house with her parents and 6 sisters, during the Mexican revolution, which started in 1910. She loved to draw when she was a child, preferring to be alone than playing with her sisters. During her life, she had many, many medical problems and injuries that caused her a lot of physical pain; this is important to note because her pain and isolation is reflected in her paintings.
At age 6, Frida caught a disease called polio, which damaged her right leg. When she was 18 she was in a terrible bus accident that broke her spinal cord, collarbone, ribs, pelvic bone, leg, foot, and shoulder. An iron rail pierced her torso and through the terrible injury she was never able to have children. She was in an enormous amount of constant pain and had to be in a body cast for 3 months. Even after the case was removed, on and off for the rest of her life Frida would spend months at a time lying in bed in La Casa Azul or in the hospital: during this time in bed she painted what she felt and saw.
She admired Mexican artist Diego Rivera and approached him about her art. They ended up getting married, and both continued to be very successful artists. In many of Frida’s paintings you will find her pain and despair- you will find paintings unsuitable for children. I suggest that you view the paintings first and choose which to show your kids.
Frida was a strong voice for women, at a time when women did not have as many rights as they do now. The was an advocate for indigenous rights, and spoke against commercialization and imperialism, sometimes between industrialized US and pre-industrial Mexico. Frida Kahlo died July 14, 1954.
Books on Frida Kahlo for Kids
There are many children’s (and adult’s) books on Friday Kahlo. The two that we were able to get ahold of were wonderful little biographies for kids, all very age-appropriate. The first was quite whimsical with its illustrations, but had great information: Frida (English Language Edition) and Spanish language edition by Jonah Winter.
The second was a bit more serious and had great examples of her work:
Frida Kahlo: The Artist who Painted Herself (Smart About Art), by Margaret Frith and illustrated by my favorite, Tomie dePaola.
Self-Portraits Frida Kahlo Style
My daughter was very empathetic to Frida after listening to her many painful injuries, and we talked about how bored she must have been for months and months in bed with (gasp) no TV, no iPad, no access to a library, etc. We also looked at self-portraits of Frida with various animals in the picture: birds, monkeys, a cat. Vivi then took up her drawing pad to her bed and sketched herself with her pets: our 2 dogs, our balled python, bearded dragons, and African millipedes (we have a zoo!). She colored it with oil pastels, and was very proud of her own self-portrait!
Teach kids about the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo with this reading and self-portrait activity! A wonderful way to incorporate a Hispanic cultural lesson into any school day, this activity offers students an age-appropriate reading about Frida Kahlo’s life followed by comprehension questions, and guides them to creating their own self-portrait through a meaningful questionnaire. It also includes an incredible illustrated version of one of Frida Kahlo’s paintings that can be printed out and used on a bulletin board. Go now >