Category Archives: First/Second Grade

Odds and Endings

I have been too busy to post faithfully each art project, so I thought I would do a wrap-up with a few from several projects. Kindergarten was introduced to impressionism through Monet, and used oil pastel and water color to create their own simplistic Monet bridge.

First and second grades designed their own birds. Like they did with fish in kindergarten, we discussed the parts of birds and the different shapes they come in. Some students spent a lot of time detailing their bird. Others had time to incorporate backgrounds. And a few even had time to glue in tail feathers. The whole project had to be completed in a single, 40-minute session.

This second grade student has truly grasped the concept of filling the space.

First grade is still working on that concept.

first grade

second grade

A second grader who had artist’s block at first, but whose finished bird is just lovely and unique. I hope she painted in a background at home.

It seems that’s all I have pictures of. It’s been a fun year, and I learned a lot. I hope the kids did, too!


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Japanese Teacups and Teabowls

After viewing a Japanese tea ceremony, Kindergarten made tea bowls formed on their knees, and first and second grades made cups from pinch pots. These were glazed using earth tones.

a second grader


a first grader


a first grader's cup

and a kindergarten bowl.

Notice from this kinder's bowl that they spattered a little blue or white glaze inside their bowls.



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Ushering in Spring

My homeschool students have done their spring-themed projects, kicking off their spring session. My older students had a rare experience with acyrlic painting, and a first experience on canvas paper. We observed sheep and lambs together, then worked through a loosely guided drawing, in a neutral paint color with our brushes, of a lamb. Although the lamb’s head and the background were painted traditionally, the wooly body was acrylic with medium added, painted with plastic spoons. We definitely created some fluffy lambs!

Third grade homeschool student.

Another third grader.

A second grade homeschooler.

Kinders painted a garden of spring flowers, in a lesson introduced by Deep Space Sparkle here, although we didn’t take time to spatter. We dripped puddles of watercolor, then turned our papers up over newspaper and let the drips paint stems. We then read the book Ish, by Peter Reynolds. Afterwards, we returned to our flowers to add details with chalk pastels. I think they were very flowerish!


Filed under Art, First/Second Grade, Kindergarten, Teaching, Third/Fourth Grade

Ninja Craftsmanship

My school students recently completed a unit focusing on craftsmanship, in preparation for taking on art inspired by China and Japan. In trying to understand what I was describing as craftsmanship, one boy mentioned ninjas as craftsmen. Well, hey! I can work with that! Ninjas are, indeed, well known for the excellence of what they do. I called my students to be ninja artists, the best at using their tools and media.

Our first practice project was with drawing tools, and I didn’t want them comparing drawing SKILL, but care in use of the TOOL. So we created an abstract marker drawing which had to have at least two straight lines utilizing a ruler. I LOVED these. I am even taking two of them to our art competition in Nebraska.

The Best on Display

Then we worked on using our paints and brushes with good craftsmanship, while practicing changes in value. A Coke commercial inspired me to go polar, so third through sixth put a polar bear in theirs, and first and second grade put collaged penguins (more accessible to them). This was definitely more challenging for them, but I really enjoyed the results.

Polar values

I hope to see the benefits of focusing specifically on craftsmanship as my ninja artists move into Asian art and its emphasis on excellence.

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Filed under Art, Fifth/Sixth Grade, First/Second Grade, Teaching, Third/Fourth Grade

Peacocks for the Holidays?

Really, no. They are just the first and second grades’ wrap-up of India.

Anything with gold and/or glitter paint is popular with this crowd. This project has both. Lots of oohs and aaahs.

many peacocks, like this one, didn't connect their feathers at the base of the tail. Interesting!

I love this bird's expression.

One without eyes...

...and one whose eyes match the ones on his feathers! Awesome!

I really love how all these birds turned out so different and interesting. I turned them loose with tempera and photos of the national bird of India, and got these vibrant paintings. I would be interested in seeing some American eagles from the class at some point!

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Introducing India…slowly, one feather at a time

So far in our world “travels,” I have had no trouble at all giving a taste of a region and its people, and connecting them to the sort of art they create. After all, it only has to be at a very superficial level even a 6-year-old can begin to relate to. With India, not so much. I really wrestled with the contrasts of this region. And where will we take our inspiration, since the vast majority of India’s art is inspired by Hinduism, not God’s creation? They sure picked an extraordinary national bird, though! So our younger artists started with the peacock. In fact, Kinders started just with a peacock FEATHER. We practiced our guided observation, and how to translate what we see to our own papers, and these luminescent feathers are the result.

First and second grades are working on whole peacocks and learning a lot about tints and how dark colors affect other colors. Some are almost finished, but will miss next week’s class due to Thanksgiving, so it will be a bit before I can get their peacocks up. Kindergarten has started on spiral pattern snakes, but this year we will add a hood to make them cobras, like the ones in our Rikki Tikki Tavi story. I actually just retold very very briefly the Kipling story accompanied by some of the beautiful illustrations of Jerry Pinkney. The kids cheered when the mongoose saved the family!

Third through sixth grades are doing a glue resist batik with acrylic paints. Their subject was an Indian animal of their choosing, but for most of third and fourth, that was the peacock. Designs were drawn in Sharpie on wax paper, and set under our fabric, then traced on fabric with Elmers blue gel glue. Monday we begin adding color!

Little by little we are making inroads into exotic India.

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Cubism for Kids

Here in my third year of teaching, I have only just introduced Cubism to my students, and to my younger students, at that. It is not one of my favorite schools of art, and I hadn’t really settled on how to communicate its principals. And then it struck me: PLAY! Kids relate to someone asking those “What if?” questions. They can understand someone just playing around with something, and so I took our fall inspiration to Cubism for my first through fourth grades. So after explaining Cubism’s invention as the result of a couple of artists asking those questions and playing with ideas on canvas, I introduced in Powerpoint several different Cubist artworks as examples of some of its principals. I was so thrilled when the children, instead of complaining of the strangeness of the artworks, were delighted to look for ways in which each artwork showed how the artist was playing around with the chosen element or principal.

First and Second grades then took sample leaves I had gathered that day and used them for reference in drawing contours for several overlapping leaves of their own in oil pastel. They then took straight edges and added several lines running through their artwork. They observed the colors of their fall leaves, and we began painting the shapes we had created breaking up our leaves with lines, changing color as we crossed a line. We also used a limited pallette of red and yellow, with much blending encouraged! I hoped for lots of tones of orange! I am really enjoying these.

first grader

also first grade

Third and Fourth grades needed a quick one-day version, so after the presentation I passed out stencils of fall items: leaves, turkeys, acorns. They overlapped these, colored solid in oil pastels. But then, after drawing lines through their artwork, they were to rearrange their new, broken pieces, glued as a collage on a new paper. They had a lot of fun with this, and really, that was my goal. PLAY with your art!

third grade collage

fourth grade collage


Filed under Art, First/Second Grade, Teaching, Third/Fourth Grade

Landscape with Pumpkin Patch Under Moon

I love playing with Van Gogh, especially with children, because his powerful lines and strong images are so easy to reach them with. So when I saw Katie’s fall-themed Starry Night for her scarecrow, I was inspired to try something similar with my homeschool class.  Our inspiration was “Landscape with Wheat Sheaves and Rising Moon”:

File:Landscape with wheat sheaves and rising moon.jpg

Van Gogh's "Landscape"

We used oil pastels to create our own “Landscape,” but our moons rose over pumpkin patches, with simple persepective showing size changing as we moved from foreground to midground, and attempting to show highlights and shadow relative to our light source. I think these second and third graders did a great job!





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Twisting Their Brains…Bwahaha!

Yes, the evil art teacher did ask the first and second grades to do something ridiculous, even, dare some say? Impossible?

Or at least you would think so from the reception I got when I unveiled their drawing image. After explaining that we were going to trick their brains to help them draw better, and not to name what they see beyond line and curve and dot, I told my young students we were going to do something some of artists do as a warm-up exercise. And then I showed them the image of a lioness line drawing–upside down! They were charged to draw the lines they saw, not the image, and I walked them through the process of observing the starts and stops of lines, their curves, where they meet, etc.  A few tried to be sneaky and draw turning their own heads upside down, but most gave it a go. I think they turned out great! Then they were asked to add shapes for the mane, and fill them with lines and patterns, a la Deep Space Sparkle, as envisioned by That Little Art Teacher with lions. I think my students were really pleased with their results, once they got through the pain of focusing!

Some first grade lions:

And some second grade lions:

We could have used about 10 more minutes for paint time, but I told the kids to paint the most important parts first, because our time was limited. And I have NO idea why the scars all over some lions, but it totally cracks me up!


Filed under Art, First/Second Grade, Teaching

Flexible Lessons

I had the joy and privilege of creating art with my homeschool class today. I have nine students grades K through 3, and they really are a joy to teach. Sometimes they get the benefit of my experience with lessons with my school students, and sometimes it’s the other way around. Sometimes, with the homeschoolers, I may even still be working out the kinks in a new lesson. I know I can do that with them. Today was one of those days.

The younger students are doing a variation on the Faith Lutheran kinders’ colorwheel caterpillar, a project I KNOW I saw somewhere on a blog, but for my life cannot find it now. (Anyone care to help me so I can credit it?) We painted 4×4 squares with large dots, inspired by The Dot last week, mixing primaries for secondary colors. We double-dipped our brushes, so they would have to remember that red and yellow make orange every time they reloaded.

But my older students practiced mixing secondary colors with a project idea I just came up with this week. It sounded like fun to me, so I ran with it, even though it was only half-developed in my head. I knew I wanted to draw umbrellas. We would draw primary umbrellas in a row, and then under them mix oil pastels for secondary-colored umbrellas, located according to their parent colors, like so:

the mistakes from which I learned

I kept looking at them, thinking something wasn’t right. Then I realized I had made the umbrellas like tulips, all messed up on the scallops. They should be curved up, and they are pointed. Obviously, I taught them differently than my model showed. I also really didn’t like how dark the red and blue made the purple, so I decided to walk the kids through my evaluation and point them to light blue and red instead. See the heart in the corner where I tested the new color combo? It was only this morning that I worked through what shapes to direct to make people for the umbrellas, but it was a great place to introduce neutrals. The background was their idea, during the lesson! And then we added rain as a watercolor wash, as prayerful hope to end the drought.

One student’s proof that I did fix some things!

I had fun walking through this little lesson (review for most) in color mixing. Teaching really benefits from being able to adjust on the fly. I would love to hear other examples of tweaking lessons in the last minute!

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Filed under Art, First/Second Grade, Kindergarten, Teaching, Third/Fourth Grade