Picasso for Kids – 5 tips to enjoy fine art as a family

Do a local staycation this summer! Lots more fun & affordable ideas here: 31 Days of Summer in St Augustine

St. Augustine’s Picasso exhibit is here through the summer! And the city of St. Augustine wants every child to have a chance to encounter fine art.  They’re offering discounted admission to families and free admission for St. Johns County students!  I took my six children last week – read on below for 5 tips to enjoy fine art as a family this summer!!

What: Picasso Art & Arena
Where: St. Augustine Visitor Center
When: extended through August 11, 2013 9:00 – 5:00 daily
Cost: FREE for St. Johns County students & faculty!!!  $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and $5 for kids 7-12 or $20 for a family pass (parents + children)

5 tips for introducing children to fine art:

1. Start with what’s familiar to them or the first thing to capture their attention.

When we first entered the exhibit, my children were captivated by a large screen movie of Picasso painting on a piece of glass.  It was clear to me that this should be our first stop!

“It looks like he’s painting in the air!”
-Georgia, 4

Although Picasso died in 1973, we were able to see him bring art to life on the big screen!  Originally intended to provide snippets of Picasso in action as visitors explored the exhibit, docents quickly realized how fascinating this vintage movie is to children and adults alike.  450th director Dana Ste. Claire pointed out a bench they added to the exhibit for that purpose.

“It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.” -Pablo Picasso

Much of Picasso’s work looks childish, which brings me to tip #2:

2. Discuss art with the children.  Ask their opinions.  Don’t dismiss their answers!  And don’t be embarrassed by their responses!  While I do teach my children that art is intended to reflect truth, I try to remember that art appreciation is largely subjective!  We may not like the same pieces.  So while I may point out the skill required for a sketch, I don’t require them to praise it or correct them even if they blurt “That’s UGLY!” in front of a docent.

3. Alternate between playful exploration and attentive instruction

After we watched the video loop, we walked through Picasso’s Deconstruction of a Bull series and discussed why and how Picasso did this series.  Our docent playfully suggested Picasso, in showing a bull in many stages- from fully formed bull to a stick figure, produced the first “How to Draw” curriculum!!

4. Learn by playing!

Then it was back to fun! Art & Arena is arranged like a bullfighting arena- including vintage audience!  While the big kids read all the plaques and explored with Dad, I played a game of I Spy with the littles.

I spy a man with a basket on his shoulder!
I spy a man drinking from a bottle!
I spy a woman wearing a mantilla!

4. Encourage children how to ask good questions.

Timothy, asked me a question I couldn’t answer.  Together, we approached the docent and she was able to teach us both!  The docents at this exhibit are very friendly- encourage even your young children to ask one question.  Respectfully approaching adults and then listening attentively is an excellent skill you can teach!

Now, there is such a thing as a bad question.  For example, after learning of a bullfight planned for St. Augustine’s Plaza in 1747, Andrew raised a good point:

“Wouldn’t he have ran around St. Augustine ripping people apart?”
– Andrew, 6

And while it was funny & a great opportunity to discuss the city then vs. now, we didn’t need to approach the docent with that question! Ha!

5. Leave while it’s still fun!

I was fortunate to explore Picasso: Art & Arena on my own several weeks ago.  That day I read each & every plaque, asked many questions and learned all about the artist Picasso and his work.  When I returned with the children, I was in a different role.  Resist the desire to milk this trip for all the educational value possible!!  Just have fun!

Touch video screens in the Visitor Center lobby have a secret game where The Fort fires on pirate ships... our littles enjoyed playing this while the big kids finished up in the Picasso Exhibit. Access it by dragging all the gold coins into the bottom center spot.

The St. Augustine exhibit of Picasso: Art & Arena is a must-do on your family’s Florida staycation list!!  And if your child is attending a summer camp, encourage the director to bring their camp in for a special field trip. {feel free to email Nikole at Nalvarez@citystaug.com for info on camps, guides for children & spanish-speaking guides.}

I visited Picasso as media- hope you’ll make time in your summer to visit before the exhibit leaves 8/11/2013. Happy summer!!


  1. Rosemary Dann says

    Thanks for the excellent suggestions. Exposing youngsters to all the arts – visual, musical and theatrical – provides them with the basis of a lifetime of enjoyment, not to mention a deeper understanding of history, geography, philosophy – life in general.

    The exhibit, which is creatively staged, has representative pieces from the many stages of Picasso’s lengthy career, with informative interpretations of the works and the times. Thank you, St. Augustine, for providing a great learning opportunity for us all.

  2. Carol says

    Glad to have come across this as the grandkids will be coming to visit. Even better is the family price offer. What is not a lot as an individual price adds up when there are 7 or 8 in the group!

    The best tips were to make it fun and not try to stress getting only educational value from the visit.

    I will have to check Simply St. Augustine sight more
    often. I’m sure there are many more things I’m not aware
    of to do that won’t break the bank! Thank you!

    • says

      Enjoy seeing St. Augustine through your grandkids’ eyes! Make sure to hit Ft. Matanzas- the free boat ride over makes it a fun & different experience. I have 31 summer ideas coming your way- subscribe to receive them in your inbox so you don’t have to remember to check online! {sign up here: http://eepurl.com/oKWYP}

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