Road to Santa Fe, Theodore Van Soelen, 1948

Shrinking Story

Road to Santa Fe, Theodore Van Soelen, 1948

Road to Santa Fe

Theodore Van Soelen, United States


44 in. X 54 in.

Denver Art Museum Collection: William Sr. and Dorothy Harmsen Collection, 2001.1143


  1. Invite children to close their eyes and, using their imaginations, “shrink” their bodies down to the size of a butterfly.
  2. Without actually moving, prompt them to use their imaginations to “jump” or “fly” into the painting and land on something or someone represented in the artwork.
  3. Document on chart paper the responses of the children as you encourage them to share their adventure inside the artwork.
  4. Ask a series of questions that prompt young children to consider the sensory experience inside the artwork, such as:
    • From where you “landed,” what do you see?
    • What do you smell? (e.g. the plants, a horse, something cooking in the house, etc.)
    • What do you hear around you? (e.g. the wind blowing through the trees, the horse neighing, a creaking door, etc.)
    • What do you feel? (e.g. the hair on the horse, the smooth leather of the riders’ hat, the rough surface of the house’s walls, etc.)
    • What might you taste in the artwork?

TIP: Use this technique with all different kinds of artwork, including students’ own artwork. When your students are more comfortable with this routine, try more abstract artworks to focus on your students’ identification of colors, shapes, and types of lines.

Related Creative Activities

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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.
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