Classes have been busy this spring exploring our IB units in depth. 4th graders were learning about animals’ use of mimicry and camouflage as a means of survival in their homerooms. To begin our unit, we watched this great video about animal camo. We viewed different animal patterns up close and students had to choose an animal with a distinctive design or texture for their projects. After printing off reference photos, students got busy on their practice drawings, trying to make their animals as realistic as possible. Once confident they had their best, students transferred their drawings onto the scratch art paper. We learned different scratching techniques with the stylus tool to help represent the texture of the animal’s fur or skin. For the finishing touch, students recreated their animal’s pattern with oil pastels for a border, again trying to use blending and coloring techniques to represent that texture. Students were very focused and engaged while working the entire quarter on this project! The results are absolutely amazing.
Students last year created these Jim Dine inspired heart prints exploring texture and printmaking techniques. We viewed examples of Dine’s well-known heart paintings, studying the many colors and paint techniques he used. We colored a background for our prints using construction paper crayons, though if I taught this lesson again a solid color would help the prints to stand out more. We read A Zeal of Zebras by Woop Studios to get some ideas for the texture to add to our foam hearts. Students then printed their designed hearts onto their backgrounds. For a finishing touch, students used a recycled toilet paper tube bent into a heart shape to print a frame for their heart designs. Printmaking is such a magical process for young students!
For our 1st Grade African Unit lesson, students studied the lion and created these magnificent mixed-media collages. To begin, we read What the Animals Were Waiting For by Johnathan London, which tells the story of the dramatic cycles of life on the Masai Mara range in Africa. Many different African animals are depicted in rich, oil painted illustrations. On our document camera, we zoomed in on the lion illustration so we could see how the artist carefully blended monochromatic earth tones to give texture and depth to the fur. We also studied real lion photographs to become familiar with their features. Students then were ready to draw their lion faces, blending and mixing earth tones using oil pastels for the fur.
The next class, we reviewed photos of crazy lion manes and students folded strips of earth toned paper to create a wild mane around their drawings. Lastly, students used texture rubbing plates to create interest in the background. They sure brightened up the halls!
Inspired by these awesome lions on Artsonia.
My 4th Grade students focused on the zebra for their African Unit lesson. To start off the project, we viewed many photographs and read some facts about the zebra from the San Diego Zoo website. They were fascinated to find out that their stripes help to confuse predators while in a large group. We also had to go on a fact-finding mission to answer the age-old question: “White with black stripes or black with white stripes??”. Turns out both are true!
Armed with this background information, students jumped right into their practice drawings, using a guide to give them confidence. It’s kind of funny that they all ended up facing the same direction, but each one does have their own personality! Students were so connected throughout the project and took great pride in their final drawings.
Lastly, we studied the characteristics of the zebra habitat, the savannah. We studied many photos of the landscape, noticing how there are many layers and textures found in a savannah. In order to give the illusion of depth, students cut different colors of paper to create grass, hills, and mountains. Beforehand, students used rubbing plates to create textures on their papers to create more interest. The final projects are so striking.
Inspired by these colorful zebra projects found on MaryMaking.
This is a great May lesson to explore texture and read one of my Kindergarteners’ favorite stories: The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle. Students find this story so amusing and love the part when the great big whale smacks the ladybug back to his leaf. It’s a good lesson on being kind and friendly instead of mad and grumpy.
After reading the story, students continued their knowledge of texture as they completed a crayon rubbing over texture plates to prepare their papers for their grass and dirt. Then, they used their cutting skills to cut a bumpy line for their dirt and strips of green for the grass which they glued to their backgrounds.
The next class, we went over the parts of the ladybug, noticing how they all have different patterns of black spots. Students created however many ladybugs they wanted and glued them to their grass and sky. They made sure to add six legs and some tiny antennae to finish off their bugs. They turned out great!
Check back later for the printmaking version of this lesson!
Inspired by this project found on Artsonia.
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:
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.
This Kindergarten project from last year went along the same lines as my PreK’s winter mural. Again we read the book Little Tree by e.e. cummings, which has lovely watercolor illustrations. Students used soft, cool colors to paint a winter sky using a watercolor wash technique. Everyone was so quiet and focused as they painted their papers. Their favorite part was sprinkling on a little salt to give it a sparkly, unique texture. The next class students learned how to cut two triangles from one square shape. After they had a pile of triangles going, they glued on rectangle trunks to their watercolor paintings and built their trees on top. They ripped some white tissue paper pieces for a snowy texture. The last class, we read Snow by Cinthia Rylant, a book with descriptive, poetic verses of all the different types of snow. Students printed snow flakes using a q-tip onto their turquoise papers, the perfect frame for their peaceful winter landscapes. Notice the tiny, cozy cabin one of my kiddos added to hers.