Impressionism Topic Guide

Impressionism is an artistic movement that began in 19th century France. Impressionist artists are more concerned with capturing what someone or something looked like to them than making their pictures look lifelike. They usually painted outdoors, and worked quickly to preserve the effect of light on the picture.

Famous impressionist artists include Claude Monet, Camille Pissaro, Edgar Degas, Berthe Morisot and Mary Cassatt.

Teach your children about impressionism using our handy topic guide!

Choose a section:
Teaching Ideas | Resources | Facts | Videos | Books | Links

Teaching Ideas

  • Try this interesting idea for creating an image in the style of Monet using sandpaper, wax crayons and an iron!
  • Use pastels rather than paints to create impressionist images; the children can smudge them, giving a similar effect.
  • Create a presentation about impressionism. This page from Tate Kids has plenty of information to get started.
  • Take photographs of the same outdoor scene at different times during the day. Compare the photographs; what effect does the changing light have on the image?
  • Choose two (or more) impressionist paintings and compare them. What are the similarities and differences?
  • Younger children will enjoy this simple art idea using masking tape to mask off the shape of Monet’s garden bridge, and fingerprinting to create the garden.


  • Some people consider van Gogh to be an impressionist artist. Learn about him with our teaching pack.

The Van Gogh Pack

Impressionism Facts

  • The Impressionist movement began in France in the 1860s.
  • The term “Impressionists” came from critics who said that their paintings gave an “impression” of reality.
  • A painting by Claude Monet, named Impression, Sunrise (Impression, Soleil Levant in the original French) is considered to be the first-ever impressionist painting.
  • When they were first painted, impressionist paintings were not very popular. Today, they are some of the most expensive artworks ever! In 2019, Meules by Claude Monet fetched $110 at an auction in New York.
  • Impressionists often painted the same view many times, trying to capture the differences in light and colour.


What is Impressionism? | Tate Kids

This short video gives a good overview of impressionism.

Running time: 2:18

Art with Mati and Dada – Berthe Moriso

Artist Berthe Morisot explains impressionism to Mati and Dada.

Running time: 7:52


Katie and the Impressionists

Where will Katie find the perfect flowers for Grandma’s birthday?

Where is the Frog?

Antoinette the frog is determined to get into a painting. This lovely book includes prints of some of Monet’s famous paintings of his pond.

Picnic With Monet

Younger children will enjoy this rhyming tale, with Monet’s paintings.

Women in Art: 50 Fearless Creatives Who Inspired the World

This amazing book includes the work of Mary Cassatt.

Children's Book of Art

This reference book gives an overview of art history, including Impressionism.

Are you teaching your children about other topics? Explore our full collection of guides!

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