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Family Activities: City in the Grass (Quick Tip)

Family Activities: City in the Grass

By Courtney Klemens, Manager of Family Programs 


Paint with sand
Paint with sand. Look closely at City in the Grass and you’ll find lots of different textures: the smooth enamel, rough wood, shaggy grass, and even bumpy sand. An easy way to create your own textured artwork is to paint with sand. On a piece of heavy-duty paper or canvas, sketch the outline of a repeated floral pattern inspired by the sculpture’s “magic carpet”; make sure your drawing stretches across the surface to fill the whole page. Then, in separate containers, mix acrylic paint with a spoonful or two of sand to give your paint a rough texture. Fill in your sketch with sandy paint and let dry. 


Aerial view collage.

Aerial view collage. Imagine you’re able to fly through the sky and look down at the world below you, perhaps from an airplane window, or even atop a magic carpet! How would it look? Create a collage that shows the view you’d see. Start by looking at a real place in a map or on a service like Google Maps to see how the land, streets, and bodies of water would appear from high above. Trace or sketch the outlines of this place onto a piece of paper (or, draw the features of an imaginary land instead). Then find colorful or patterned pieces of paper or fabric. Cut them to fill in the landforms you drew and glue them down. You can accent your artwork with drawn details or marks made with pen or markers to complete your collage. 


Image Credit:Architecture activity photo: Photograph by Beth Curtin Art (

Found-object architecture. Artist Drew is known for making large-scale sculptures out of materials you could find in your everyday life, like wood, cardboard, and metal. City in the Grass creates a sprawling urban grid by bringing together pieces of wood in different shapes and colors. To create your own architecture-inspired sculpture, start with a cardboard box that you can transform into a building of your choice. Use scissors to cut windows or doors, and glue on pieces of paper, bottlecaps, or other flat materials to create a roof, siding, or other details. 

Bonus: explore a big version of this project created every year by visitors to the Nasher Museum of Art’s Cardboard City project.

Continue the sculpture-inspired family fun by building your own entry for the Museum’s first ever Virtual Sculpture Race! Visit this web-page for more details and to register. 


Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels for Kids by Luke Hayes 

Leonardo Drew has compared the experience of looking at City in the Grass to the fantastical adventures that Lemuel Gulliver has in this classic book: “You actually now are Gulliver,” he said. “And you’re standing over Lilliput.” Get acquainted with the tiny Lilliputians and other whimsical people and places in this adaptation for younger readers.

Small in the City by Sydney Smith

Read this mysterious and moving story told from the perspective of a child who knows how to navigate a big city. Can you imagine yourself moving through the streets of Leonardo Drew’s artistic cityscape? What would you see, hear, or discover? Watch a read-aloud video of this book here

Cities Around the World: A Global Search and Find Book by Lucy Menzies

Can you spot the tiny details in sprawling cities from around the globe without leaving your home? This book brings to life iconic landmarks from real cities with dense, delightful illustrations. Look closely to see if you can find them all as you learn about architecture, world cultures, and counting. 

The Game of Sculpture by Herve Tullet

City in the Grass is a sculpture made from everyday objects, and this book is an object waiting to be transformed into a sculpture! This interactive book can be bent, folded, and popped-out to create a unique work of art from its pages. See examples of what you can create here.