Fall is such an inspiring time of year and I love to incorporate the changing leaves into art lessons whenever possible. I am currently working on this lesson with my third graders this year; these examples were created by the students at the bilingual school I previously taught at.
We start out the lesson by viewing examples of real leaves that students bring in. I also like to show them Autumn Leaves by Ken Robbins and Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert for additional examples and inspiration. We study the contours of the leaves, noting how some have wavy, zig zag, or curvy lines. Some are symmetrical while others aren’t. We talk about their shapes and the patterns the veins make.
After sketching out ideas, students draw one large leaf on black paper then outline with white glue. The next class, we view some close-up leaf paintings by Georgia O’Keeffe and study the real leaves again, noticing how the colors blend softly together. Students use warm colors for the leaf and cool colors for the outside to create a bold contrast.
Each student’s leaf turned out so bright and colorful and the student’s loved how the lesson connected to the current season. They were so excited to share both their found leaves and their beautiful artistic representations!
We have been busy settling into the new school year and have just begun focusing on our fall-themed projects. The next month I will be posting some spectacular and colorful art projects created in the past autumn seasons. The leaves here in Wisconsin have just started to change so what perfect timing!
This was a lesson third grade students worked diligently on last fall. We started the lesson by observing a real pumpkin and making a list of adjectives to describe it. Students noticed that the pumpkin was shaped like a sphere with curved lines that started at the stem. These lines also gave the pumpkin a bumpy texture. We practiced drawing the pumpkin from life, making sure to carefully observe each detail in order to create the most realistic pumpkin. Once confident, students drew another large pumpkin on their final papers. They then drew two diagonal lines to create a background.
The next class, students again observed the pumpkin and came up with a list of colors they noticed. We practiced mixing new colors out of yellow, orange, white, and brown paint. This was by far the most joyful part of the project as students were amazed at all the new color combinations they were able to create. They blended colors for the pumpkin then also had to mix 4 different tints for the background.
Lastly, students used their knowledge of line to create bold patterns for their backgrounds using black paint. The simple outlines and patterns also helped to emphasize their lovely pumpkins as well as all the great new color combinations created.
Inspired by this lovely pumpkin project.
3rd Grade students enjoyed making their own versions of African Mud Cloths. They viewed a powerpoint with many examples and learned the history and traditional methods of their creation. Of course they were surprised to find that actual mud was used to create the colors! This is an excellent website that gives a history of the mud cloth and lets you create one virtually. The students loved working together to create a virtual version before getting started on their own. They viewed examples of the mud cloth as inspiration when creating theirs, using geometric shapes, repeating patterns + symmetry, and earthy colors.
Inspired by this project found on Artsonia.
3rd grade students enjoyed exploring the relationship between color and emotion for this project. To introduce the lesson, I read My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss. The vibrant oil painted illustrations related beautifully to the emotions being described by color. Students then chose the emotion they wanted to represent and picked the color that went best with it. They learned how to create tints and shades of one color using white and black tempera paint. They were amazed to find how many different versions of their color they were able to mix.
The second class, we read Glad Monster, Sad Monster by Ed Emberely. We noticed how each monster’s features were made up of simple shapes and different shades of a similar color. Students were challenged to create their emotion monster only using the colors found in their paintings completed the previous class. We talked about facial expressions and how you can tell how someone is feeling by observing their face. The students did a great job at representing their monsters’ emotions using color and facial features. To wrap up the lesson, each student filled out a bio sheet with their monster’s name, emotion, and a few fun facts about him or her. They loved it! Such personality…
Last year my 3rd graders created winter landscapes inspired by Jane Yolen’s Owl Moon. This quiet, simple story filled with descriptive language and metaphors, as well as the muted watercolor illustrations, alludes to the stillness of a winter’s night and the magical feeling a child gets when going on a special adventure for the first time. The story always gives me goosebumps. We watched the video version of the book as an introduction for the lesson.
Afterwards, students created a watercolor wash for the background, using the cool winter colors found in the story. After painting, salt was sprinkled over the paper to create additional texture. The next class, students viewed photos of winter tree silhouettes and used recycled cardboard to print a winter tree and snow. Q-tips were used to create falling snow and the owls sitting on the branches. We used white tempera paint but I would recommend acrylic if available as it would be more opaque. Each student’s winter landscape looked as quiet and peaceful as the story.
Inspired by this project found on Kids Artists.
To celebrate Black History Month last year at school, I wanted each grade level to create a collective class quilt, made up of individual squares created by the students. They were displayed during our schoolwide program and really made a statement.
For the 2nd and 3rd grade classes, we studied the colorful, graphic quilts of Gee’s Bend. I created a powerpoint showing examples of these unique quilts, focusing on the many different lines and colors found in each design, as well as their history. My students found it interesting that a lot of the quilts were sewn together using old scraps of clothing, which the artists felt helped to bring the spirits of their loved ones into their creations. We also read Stitchin’ and Pullin’: A Gee’s Bend Quilt, by Patricia McKissack. It’s a beautiful, poetic story of the tradition of the Gee’s Bend quilters through the eyes of a little girl, her family’s and community’s stories, as well as her ancestors’ struggle for freedom. My students were also amazed to hear how these talented women’s quilts were displayed in art museums around the world. Using this inspiration, they planned and designed a quilt square using different types of line patterns and bold colors. I taped each student’s quilt square into one large quilt to display. They all came together so well!
I love the message one of my 3rd grade students drew across the top of his painting–it goes so well with the history of Vincent Van Gogh.
In my 5th year of teaching art, this was actually the first time I did a Starry Night painting project. They turned out so well. I used Google Art Project to introduce my students to Van Gogh’s most famous painting. It was helpful to be able to zoom in up close and see Van Gogh’s thick, painterly brushstrokes. We also viewed this mesmerizing video of the Starry Night in motion, which once again highlighted his many pronounced brushstrokes. Apparently it’s also interactive on an ipad, something I’d love to have my students play with for a future lesson. Students practiced making small lines with their oil pastels in Van Gogh’s style. The starry background was created this first class.
The second class, we read The Starry Night, by Neil Waldman, a book about a young boy going on a painting adventure through modern day New York City with Van Gogh. All illustrations are done in his style and it fit in great for the lesson. Students then painted a watercolor resist over their backgrounds.
The last class, I read The House in the Night by Susan Marie Swanson, a Caldecott Medal-winning book. It was the perfect intro to adding our village silhouette details, as the illustrations are simple black and white textured silhouettes with bright golden light details. There’s even a painting of the Starry Night in the girl’s bedroom, a nice surprise pointed out by one of my observant students! After adding their villages, the maserpieces were complete! They are all so great.
Inspired by this beautiful art project on Artsonia.