Archive | April, 2013


29 Apr


Continuing with the literature-based art theme, here are some spectacular chameleons created by my 2nd grade students last spring during our lizard unit. During this unit, we read two great chameleon books:

Chameleon’s Colors by Chisato Tashiro

A Color of His Own by Leo Lionni

We also viewed some National Geographic Kids videos of real chameleons changing colors. The kids thought they were pretty much the coolest lizards in all creation.

They prepared their chameleon paper by brushing water over multi-colored bleeding tissue paper squares. They used texture rubbing plates to create a texture for their leaf and branch papers using crayons. These papers were then painted over with watercolor, creating a textured wax resist.

The next class, students practiced their chameleon drawing skills using a step-by-step drawing sheet, a lifesaver for my easily-frustrated students! Yet notice how each chameleon still has its own personality. Once comfortable, students created their final drawing on the prepared colorful paper. After cutting a large branch, leaves, and adding their chameleons to their composition, the masterpieces were complete.

Check back later for the 3D lizards from this unit!

These chameleons were inspired by this drawing lesson found on Art Projects for Kids.




24 Apr


Here is another literature inspired art lesson–a 1st grade flower collage inspired by Eric Carle’s The Tiny Seed. Students first created the background collage using various types of blue tissue and crepe paper. Next, they experimented with color mixing, creating painted textured papers in the style often found in Carle’s illustrations. The following class the students created these vibrant, simple flowers using their painted papers. For a final flourish, seeds were glued to the center just like in the story. Looks like spring!



23 Apr


I’ve mentioned this before, but I really do make an effort to incorporate literature whenever possible into my art curriculum. As a kid of a teacher mom, some of my fondest summer memories are visiting the public library to check out stacks of books every couple of weeks. I loved getting lost in the stories, studying the illustrations that sometimes accompanied the book, or creating the settings and details in my imagination.

As an art teacher in a high poverty school, it’s an important job to promote and encourage a love of reading for our students. I have to admit I am still drawn to children’s books and have a passion for sharing their words and illustrations in my classroom. Introducing a lesson with a book helps to calm my students down and get them excited to start their own inspired projects. In my five years of teaching art, I have built my entire curriculum around quality works of literature. I can connect other subject areas like science, social studies, and art history. It’s the perfect starting point for many lessons and I am on a continuous hunt for more amazing books. Here is my Pinterest board where I keep track of my favorites. I am going to share some more of my favorite literature based lessons this week.

First up, Eric Carle-inspired Seahorses!


My 2nd grade students read Mister Seahorse by Eric Carle (one of my favorite illustrators to use in the art room!) to start out the lesson. They were fascinated to discover how many sea creature Dads take care of their babies. We also viewed some videos of seahorses swimming as well as many photographs to see how they were shaped. We used bleeding tissue paper the first day to prepare our papers in the style of Carle. Students also painted a wavy background using cool ocean colors. The next class, students cut out their prepared papers into a seahorse shape. You can see some added babies as well. They added floating seaweed to the background then glued their seahorses on top. I think they all turned out so fantastically!

Stay tuned for more beautiful literature-based art.




12 Apr



I have done this Georgia O’Keeffe flower lesson the last two years with my 4th grade students. We start out the lesson by viewing a Powerpoint showcasing some of O’Keeffe’s flower paintings as well as interesting facts about her life, including that she was born right here in Wisconsin. We discover how she wanted to paint flowers big so that even busy people would stop to notice their beauty and intricate detail. Some of my favorite books to share about O’Keeffe during this unit are:

My Name Is Georgia: A Portrait by Jeanette Winter

Through Georgia’s Eyes by Rachel Victoria Rodriguez

Georgia Rises: A Day in the Life of Georgia O’Keeffe by Kathryn Lasky

I also laminated a huge stack of flower photographs (recycled junk mail from a seed catalog!) for reference as they began their first sketches. This was a great way to bring in some science. The main goal of the lesson was to zoom in on the flower, making sure to capture each tiny detail as inspired by O’Keeffe’s style. Students drew their final flowers with pencil on black 12 x 12 paper, outlining their drawings with glue. Once the glue dried, we reviewed O’Keeffe’s paintings, noticing how smoothly her colors blended, often using monochromatic tints and shades. Students tried creating this effect by coloring thickly with similar shades of their chosen color using oil pastels. Check out all their details–what a success!