Sponge Painting : Van Gogh Starry Night

My boys love to get creative and express themselves with pens, paints and whatever creative materials they can get their hands on! But I have to admit I hadn’t really introduced them to any of the famous artists yet. When Galt challenged us to recreate our own version of Van Gogh’s Starry Night this was a perfect opportunity to introduce the kids to one of the Old Masters for the first time.

Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night was painted in 1889, oil paint on canvas and is one of the most recognised paintings in the world. We were sent outline drawings of the painting and a sponge painting kit to have a go at our own version.

Exploring art with kids - Sponge painting Van Gogh's Starry night. So much fun!

Just in case you need a refresher of the original version, here it is:

Van Gogh Starry Night

We set out our empty templates and supplies and talked about the colours and whether Mr Z wanted to keep his painting the same as the original or do his own version.

supplies for sponge painting

We used just four colours of paint, so this gave us an opportunity to think about what colours we would need to mix to create other shades that we needed for our paintings. Mr Z also thought carefully about what tool would be best. He decided that the roller would be best for the night sky background and then we could add details on top with the sponge shapes.


I’m happy for the kids to use their imagination and creativity in art projects, and feel that the activity is more about the process than the finished project so of course I was not going to insist that he followed the original painting to the letter.

As a modern child, seeing the town scene at the bottom of the painting Mr Z felt that it’s only right to have a few cars down there for the town traffic!


Exploring art from the past gives a good opportunity to talk about life – what has stayed the same and what changes have come and gone. It’s hard for kids to imagine that in those days there would not have been all of these modern cars filling the streets like we see nowadays! But it’s also interesting to think of how many things do stay the same – like the stars and the night sky which cover us, and everyone in the world. Whether born now or 1000 years ago, or wherever you are in the world we are all under the same stars. Maybe that’s part of the appeal of Starry Night. As Van Gogh once said “Looking at the stars always makes me dream” (the rest of the quote is actually about death.. so maybe best not to share the whole thing with the kids!)

Interpretation of Van Gogh Starry Night

In the original painting, the space at the front is a dark green tree but with the outline on the template Mr Z thought it looked a lot like a flame so he has made it into a fire, burning yellow and red to match the stars.

He used yellow paint underneath and then circle sponges with red paint to give more details to his flame.


We printed out several copies so that we could experiment and make a few different versions, which allowed him to enjoy the activity for longer. We made about 4 in the end before Mr Z moved on to making his own sponge paint creations on plain paper. Here’s another one:



If you would like to do this activity here are is the template:

Van Gogh Starry Night blank canvas printableClick here to download the full sized printable file

Click here to download a copy of the original painting, to show to your child and talk about.

If you would like to try some other Van Gogh masterpieces you can check the Galt blog where more will be added.

van gogh starry night printables


You might also be interested in:

I’d love to see your child’s version if you have a go with this, or are a blogger with a Van Gogh art post – Please feel free to come and share on the In The Playroom Facebook page!

For more kids art activities check out my Kids Ideas and Activities board on Pinterest

Follow Anna – In The Playroom’s board kids Ideas and activities on Pinterest.

41 thoughts on “Sponge Painting : Van Gogh Starry Night”

  1. What a great activity!! I love it! My daughter will love to do it as well. We have been reading some picture books (and board books) about famous artists. My goal is to take her to the Fine Arts Museum this summer. We have also been doing lots of color explorations and learning about color.

    Thank you for sharing at Sharing Saturday!! And congratulations on being most clicked this week!
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