Introduction to this Stone Soup Art Activity

Russia is a country with a rich tradition of folk stories and fantasy. Some of this wonderful tradition is reflected in this beautiful painting by Vika Sycheva, 8, where colorful birds and an eight-legged animal walk on a planet with five suns. This is a world from fairy tales, dreams, ballet. A world of rich fantasy.

Let your imagination roam free when you look at this picture. You might even want to make up a story about it. Where are the birds going? And the red animal with all those legs—what is it? Are those flowers in its mouth? Are they a gift? And if so, for whom?

Project: An Imaginary Planet

Imagine a world where the sky is very different from ours—maybe there are five suns or eight moons. Maybe the sky is red rather than blue, and the moon purple rather than white. Perhaps the stars are all different shapes and colors, and a ring, like Saturn’s, crosses the sky. Create on paper a world with a fantastic sky. And create fantastic animals to match the sky—animals that are doing something, like dancing, playing, jumping, or running.

I’d advise using paint, pastels, oil pastels, crayon, colored pencils or felt pens for this picture. If you use pastels or oil pastels, it can be effective to draw your picture on colored paper. And remember, like Vika Sycheva, to use the entire page and all the space on it to tell in shape and color the story of this imaginary planet with its wonderful sky and exotic animals.

From the September/October 1986 issue of Stone Soup

Planet With Five Suns

Planet With Five Suns, by Vika Sycheva, age 8, Soviet Union

About the Author

In 1973, I was twenty years old, teaching children's art classes at my college, the University of California, Santa Cruz, and came up with the idea that the best way to encourage children to write was to introduce them to the best writing by their peers. Stone Soup grew out of that idea, and I have continued to publish Stone Soup for all these years.
I am also a culinary historian. I write about traditional foodways. My book, "The Magic of Fire," is about hearth cooking. My book, "Bread, a global history," speaks for itself. I am currently writing a bread history for a University Press. I publish articles on gardening and traditional foodways at Mother Earth News. I also publish on wild mushrooms and other food-related subjects.

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