Roberto Juarez, Sweet Potatoes at the Table, 1987

Eye Spy

This version of the classic game, Eye Spy, focuses on a work of art. The goal is for children to become observers in art and use descriptive language to describe various components of the artwork.
Child standing in front of large pink and orange abstract painting of Sweet Potatoes at the Table by Roberto Juarez, 1987

Roberto Juarez, Sweet Potatoes at the Table,1987. Acrylic paint, pastel and sand on linen. 86.5 in x 62.75 in. Denver Art Museum; Marion Hendrie Fund.


  1. Choose an art object with a variety of shapes, colors, and lines.
  2. Have children sit in a circle and take a minute to look all around the artwork. Model how the game is played. “I spy something dark blue (a small square, zigzag, etc).” Include directional language to incorporate more vocabulary. “I spy something dark blue at the top of the picture.”
  3. Have children guess something in the artwork that is blue (square, zigzag, etc).
  4. Once children are comfortable with how the game is played, have a child say “I spy something ______” and let other children guess what it could be.
  5. This can be done with many different artworks and practiced regularly as part of circle time. Use abstract art as well as representational to help children practice looking for detail even when the objects are not familiar or easily recognizable.

TIP: Once children are comfortable with this practice of looking, extend it by using it as a method to respond to other children’s artwork as well. Have children play Eye Spy as a way to respond to each other’s creations.

Related Creative Activities

Kerry James Marshall, Better Homes, Better Gardens, 1994. Acrylic paint and paper collage on canvas. Funds from Polly and Mark Addison, the Alliance for Contemporary Art, Caroline Morgan, and Colorado Contemporary Collectors: Suzanne Farver, Linda and Ken
Creative Practice

Ten Times Two

This close-looking game can be used with any visual art object and will provide an opportunity for children to look into the detail of the artwork. This activity will reinforce math skills, build vocabulary, and introduce descriptive language.
Portrait of a man
Lesson Plan

A Portrait of One’s Own

After spending time exploring aspects of the Ancestor Portrait and the importance of ancestor portraits in the Chinese tradition, students will create an ancestor portrait using mixed media materials and present it to the class.