Art In A Suitcase
Programs for 2023

Art & Science

Leaping Lizards

Blue tongues, disposable tails, changeable colors and flying furballs, lizards are amazing! We'll talk about everything from tiny geckos to huge komodo dragons. After having a lesson on lizards, the children will create 3-D komodo dragon habitats. Ages kindergarten and up.

Going Buggy

They creep, they crawl, they fly, they march. This new program is all about the arthropod family; insects, spiders, myriapods and crustaceans. Who is the largest and the smallest? Who is the best jumper and the best weight lifter? What is metamorphosis? The hour ends with everyone working on a creepy, crawly mural. Ages kindergarten and up.

Animals of Australia

Amazing animals from the wonder down under star in this program. Facts about kangaroos, koalas, kookaburras and many more unique Australian creatures are presented. The suitcase is packed with animal puppets and Australian aboriginal art. A drawing project in the style of aboriginal dream time painting follows. Ages kindergarten and up.

Fabulous Frogs

The amphibians star in this new suitcase. The true story about their double lives will be revealed. Frog facts will be explored and questions answered. Why are frogs wet? How high can they jump? Then specific frogs will be introduced. To conclude, folk art frogs created by artists from around the world will hop out of the suitcase. A creative drawing project follows. Ages kindergarten and up.

Animal Adaptations

What does it take to be a survivor? Are the fastest and biggest animals always winners of the survival game? This program explores the cheetah, wolf, ostrich, komodo dragon, opossum and ant. How do their special adaptations help or hurt their chances of survival? We'll also be making special cheetah portraits for our art project. Ages kindergarten and up.

At Home on the Prairie

Prairies, or grasslands, cover about a quarter of the earth's surface. Discover the amazing plants and animals found in prairie habitats in this new Art in a Suitcase program. Meet the grass family, including some that's 12 feet tall! Learn what jobs fire must do. Find out how animals have adapted to survive in their prairie homes. The program ends with the group creating a prairie mural. Ages 1st grade and up.

Sensational Snakes

Children are fascinated by snakes and have made this suitcase the most popular in the science group. The hard, cold reptile facts come first. The children learn that snakes have no eyelids, 3 sets of teeth, disposable skins and tongues which are used for smelling. Next come snake poems and a tongue twister, after which a fantastic array of folk art snakes slither out of the suitcase. The program ends with everyone designing, decorating and cutting out a wiggling snake. Ages kindergarten and up.

Elephant Extravaganza

How do you take care of a pet elephant? That's the question answered by this exciting Art in a Suitcase program. The care, feeding, grooming and special needs of elephants are all explained. Excellent elephant stories and myths are emphasized. Then the suitcase is opened to reveal an elaborate array of elephants. Finally, the children draw and decorate Asian elephants. Ages kindergarten and up.

All About Bears

This suitcase presents the bear facts. For example, the children discover that bears do not truly hibernate, have great noses and can have paws as big as basketballs. After exploring the scientific facts, the group sees bears carved in wood and stone by Japanese, Native American and Russian folk artists. The hour concludes with legends, poems and a creative drawing experience. Ages kindergarten and up.

Big Cats

Big and little wild cats are featured in this program. First, the group learns how to tell the cats apart, and it's not by size... some of the little wild cats are bigger than the big wild cats! Facts about these fabulous felines come next. Lions, leopards, jaguars, tigers, pumas, bobcats, lynx, ocelots, cheetahs and more are studied. For the finale the children draw their favorite wild cat. Ages kindergarten and up.

The Tortoise and the Hare

Aesop's fable of the Tortoise and the Hare introduces this new program. Next, the question is asked, "Who would win the race in the real world?" Fabulous facts about the four kinds of turtles and different types of hares follow. The children learn how to tell a tortoise from other kinds of turtles and a hare from a rabbit. Folk art turtles and rabbits from around the world are unpacked from the suitcase and serve as models when the children draw. Ages kindergarten and up.

Things With Wings

Winged creatures are the stars of this suitcase about animals that fly. Prehistoric flying reptiles, the pterosaurs, come first. The children will meet Pteranodon and learn about Quetzelcoatlus who was as big as a school bus. Archaeopteryx, the prehistoric bird, is compared and contrasted with the birds of today. The insect group is examined, and the saga of a monarch from egg to butterfly is acted out by volunteers from the audience. Next come bat facts and fictions. In conclusion, the group draws things with wings. Ages kindergarten and up.


This suitcase explores oceans and their inhabitants. An imaginary dive is taken to the sunlight, twilight and midnight zones. Then the group explores the motions of the oceans. Three types of ocean creatures are highlighted; whales, sharks and octopi. "Fishy" puppets and a real shark's jaw are among the many visuals packed in the suitcase. The program concludes with an ocean mural project. Ages kindergarten and up.

The Solar System

Art in a Suitcase journeys through the solar system with the assistance of Cub Canabearal, the Astronaut Bear. The program starts with amazing facts about the star of our solar system, the sun. Next, individuals are chosen to represent and characterize each planet. Who will get to have over 20 moons? Who will be the smallest planet, the coldest planet or the planet with rings? Amazing lunar facts about Earth's moon and a discussion of the manned moon missions follow. The trip ends with the children drawing pictures of themselves as NASA astronauts. Ages first grade and up.

Jungle Walk

The jungle program explores the plants and animals of the tropical rain forest. The children learn about plants that can grow 16 inches a day, live without soil, and shed water from their "drip tips". Snakes, spiders, insects, parrots, jaguars and monkeys all emerge from the suitcase, and fascinating science facts about all of them are revealed. For the conclusion, each child draws a vine-laden picture with bright jungle color markers. Ages kindergarten and up.

Some Like It Cold: The Arctic

How do arctic animals avoid freezing in a land of ice and snow? Are there really ice worms? Who makes their home on the top of the world? Through discussion and an ice chest filled with carvings and puppets of polar bears, snowy owls, wolves, foxes and more, the children will learn the cold hard facts about warming adaptations. The culture, art and survival skills of the people who live in the land of the midnight sun are also explored. A creative drawing project concludes the hour. Ages kindergarten and up.

Some Like It Hot: The Desert

What makes a desert a desert? Which desert had a 400 year long drought? Are deserts ever cold? These and many other questions are answered in this new Art in a Suitcase program. The special ways plants and animals adapt to desert life are also discussed. Featured animals include the kangaroo rat, diamondback rattlesnake, scorpion, roadrunner, javelina and coyote. A desert drawing project concludes the hour. Ages kindergarten and up.

It Isn't Easy Being Green

Flora the flower puppet stars in this suitcase which features plants and their marvelous food system, photosynthesis. How does a plant get its food? Why do plants need people, and people need plants? After exploring these questions, the children learn about four very remarkable plants - the bamboo, banana, orchid and saguaro cactus. Next, the children act out the true tale of an apple orchard. To conclude, everyone draws plant portraits. Ages kindergarten and up.

Prehistoric Rock

Geology is the topic explored in this new presentation. A description of how planet earth is geologically active (rocks and rolls) comes first, followed by a look at the layers of the earth. Many samples of the three types of rocks are displayed and explained. Fossil formation is discussed. Then the program delves into digging up dinosaurs and taking care of T-Rex. Large museum quality rock and fossil specimens are displayed including dinosaur bone fragments. A creative drawing project concludes the hour. Ages kindergarten and up.

Animal Champions

Who are the champions of the animal world? This program looks at animal record holders, the biggest and smallest, the fastest and tallest. The children will find out how they measure up against animal jumpers, swimmers, weight lifters and runners. Featured animals include the blue whale, elephant, giraffe, penguin, ant, snake, cheetah, hawk and more. The program ends with everyone drawing an animal champion. Ages kindergarten and up.

Art & History

The Lake Michigan Story - Science, Shipwrecks & Sailing

It's the world's fifth biggest lake. It served as a "freeway" for native Americans, furtraders and settlers. It's the Great Lakes most dangerous lake. Students will learn the history, science and folklore surrounding our great Lake Michigan. Then everyone will work together to create a fact-filled Lake Michigan mural.

Animals of Pioneer Wisconsin

History and natural science combine in this presentation. The children are asked to imagine that they are living in Wisconsin 150 years ago. What animals would they see in their backyards? Would bears and badgers be in the back 40, wildcats and wolves in the woods? The suitcase will be filled with puppets, science specimens and historical photos. A drawing project follows for which markers and paper are provided. Ages kindergarten and up.

Art & Cultural Studies

Exploring Egypt

It's more than mummies! The ancient land of sun, sand and the River Nile is presented in this program. What would daily life have been like in Egypt 5000 years ago? In what way was Egypt remarkably like Wisconsin? The suitcase will be brimming with Egyptian art. Choose from several art projects to conclude. Ages kindergarten and up.

African Adventure

The magic, rhythm and beauty of Africa are featured in this Art in a Suitcase program. Starting with a quick look at the geography of the continent, the program goes on to explore the customs, art and stories of several tribes. The suitcase brings a treasure of African folk arts crafted in fabric, metal, wood and stone. The children get to play African instruments. To conclude, everyone makes and decorates an African mask. Ages kindergarten and up.

Native American Art & Legends

The Native American Indian program highlights three areas: the woodland tribes, the Pacific Northwest tribes and the Southwest tribes. Authentic legends and art work from the regions point out the rich diversity of tribal lifestyles. The suitcase is packed with exquisite carvings, relics, pottery and Navajo jewelry. The children then draw pictures to illustrate a beautiful Indian poem. Ages kindergarten and up.

Hispanic Heritage

The Hispanic suitcase features the vibrant cultures of Spanish speaking people around the world. Starting with a history tour, the children learn that Santa Fe, New Mexico, was founded before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. The main part of the program highlights fascinating Hispanic holiday celebrations such as Mexico's Day of the Dead with skeletons galore. A lively folktale, told partly in Spanish, comes next. A splendid array of toys, dolls, puppets, carved animals, bark paintings and more is brought out of the suitcase. The program ends with a Hispanic art project. Ages kindergarten and up.

Things Japanese

Things Japanese presents the geography, food, customs, art and legends of Japan. Five unique Japanese holidays are explored: New Year's Day, Kamakura Festival, Doll Festival, Children's Day and Tanabata. The suitcases are unpacked to display handmade kites, dolls, masks, games, toys and pictures. Tengu, Daruma and the Beckoning Cat are introduced. The children paint a scroll on Japanese rice paper to take home. Ages kindergarten and up.


The Russian suitcase begins with a brief geographic and historic description of the country. Art, music and books from Russia provide the main content of the program. Paintings by Chagall and Kandinsky and music by Tchaikovsky are featured. Next come several traditional stories from children's books published in Moscow. Then the suitcase is opened to reveal a collection of Russian folk art and toys such as the famous Matryoshka or nesting dolls. To conclude, the children illustrate scenes from the Russian fairy tale, The Firebird. Ages kindergarten and up.

India, Land of Rainbows and Elephants

The rich and varied country of India is presented in this colorful suitcase. Geography, food, clothes and customs are discussed. Several unique holidays are highlighted, among them Holi, a Hindu spring festival during which the people spray each other with colored water and powders, and Divali, the festival of lights. The suitcase is unpacked to reveal carved puppets, dolls, bejewelled elephants, carved animals, toys, a mask of Ganesh the elephant god and many other handcrafted objects. The children then get to draw and decorate their own Indian elephant pictures. Ages kindergarten and up.

Land of the Llamas

What is life like over two miles up? This suitcase features the geography, history, people and animals of the Andes Mountains in South America. The story starts with the children of the sun, the gold-rich Incas. Today their descendants still live high in the Andes. How do their bodies adapt? How do they farm, and what do they eat? The animals of the Andes, the llama, alpaca, guanaco, vicuna, guinea pig, chinchilla and condor are introduced. The program concludes with a fabulous array of native folk art from Ecuador, Bolivia and Peru and a mural project. Ages kindergarten and up.

Younger Children

All About Apples

Meet Mac, Milton, Jonathan and Granny. The apple suitcase introduces the science, folklore and taste of this popular and healthy fruit. For example, the children learn that in ancient Greece tossing an apple to a girl was a proposal and catching it an acceptance. Of course the story of Johnny Appleseed is told. The suitcase is packed with apple art, including a rosy-cheeked apple doll. At the hour's end, everyone draws apple pictures and make an apple book. Ages preschool and up.

Ice Cream as Art

This much-requested program returns with even more scoops! The children get to name their favorite flavors and ice cream stores. Next, they discover how the cone was invented and how ice cream is made at the factory. After ice cream poems and stories, the suitcase is opened to reveal ice cream cones in many styles and art media ... wood, clay, fur, paper, rubber and paint. For the finale, the children draw their own incredible ice cream pictures with ice cream colored markers. (For example, "The Invasion of the Ice Cream Cones.") Ages preschool and up.

Little Cats

This suitcase celebrates the domestic cat. Beginning with the cat in history, the children learn that the Egyptians made mummy cases and mouse mummies for cat burials. Scientific facts are next. For example, the cat can make 16 different sounds and has 244 bones in its body. Then the cats are let out of the bag, and they represent a grand variety of artwork from many countries. The hour concludes with legends, poems and, of course, drawing cats! Ages kindergarten and up.

What's Hopping?

The science facts about rabbits and hares are featured in this presentation. After learning about the habits of rabbits, the children will find out if they can jump as far as a bunny. Of course, rabbit stories abound, as well as a delightful multitude of rabbits created by folk artists from around the world. For the finale, everyone creates a rabbit mask or mural. Ages kindergarten and up.

Seasonal Programs

Creepy, Crawly Creature Feature

They creep, they crawl, they come out at night. The animals associated with Halloween star in this natural science suitcase which emerges in October. True science facts help the group see familiar animals in a positive way. Spiders, snakes, owls, bats, ravens and black cats are featured. Creepy artwork concludes the hour. Ages preschool and up.

Festivals of Light

Joyful holiday celebrations from around the globe are highlighted in this suitcase which is offered in December. At this time of year, people all over the world light up the darkness with candles, lights and fires. Among the many featured holidays are Mexico's posadas, Sweden's St. Lucia's Day and India's Divali Festival. Iceland has not one Santa, but 13 mischievous Yuletide Lads, and the group will hear stories about Door Slammer and Candle Beggar. A menorah and dreidels are brought out of the suitcase to illustrate Hanukkah customs. Who are the Polish Gwiadorze, and what's Klopfelnachte? The suitcase is stuffed with colorful folk art toys, ornaments and decorations. The program ends with the children creating their own holiday ornaments. Ages preschool and up.

Chinese New Year

The wonderful, family-oriented customs of the Chinese New Year are explained in this program. The children learn about the lunar calendar and discover which of the twelve animals represents their birth years. Traditional foods, clothes, presents and decorations are discussed. The suitcase is filled with Chinese art treasures including a clay horse, a jade dragon, musical instruments, animal carvings, antique jewelry, storybooks and silk paintings. Each child gets to paint a scroll on rice paper. This program is offered in January and February only. Ages preschool and up.

Art In A Suitcase

Mary Tooley
12505 Lake Shore Rd.
Cleveland, WI 53015
web page -
email -