more leaf inspirations

Last week we went on a leaf hunt. The children collected leaves of different shapes, sizes and colours. When we returned to our classroom, the children each took a leaf and described something they noticed. They discovered that some leaves have spots, some are droopy and others are “stinky”.  Using their words, we engaged in some shared writing.  As they took a closer look, the children also noticed that “leaves have lines.”  We are fortunate to have a light table, the leaves were placed on the light table for further exploration.  At first, the children sorted the leaves.  As a small group took a closer look, I revisited their idea that leaves have lines and encouraged them to trace their favourite leaf onto a piece of transparency.  This reminded me of some wonderful art work I had the opportunity to see at the Bishop Strachan School last year which inspired what follows.

Using the overhead projector, the leaf drawings were projected for the children.  Projecting their leaf drawings added yet another dimension to their experience with light, shadow, and their drawings.  As the children painted, more children became interested and were also inspired to trace a leaf.  Once their paintings dried, they added colour.  I was amazed at how much care even the younger children took as they painted.  We are now paying much closer attention to the lines we see in our environment.  I have a feeling this could be the inspiration for a line project!

snowman art

As much as we keep hoping, the snow just doesn’t want to stick around this winter.  We’ve had a few dustings but not enough to make snowmen or forts or sculptures.  It’s a little ironic that tomorrow is Groundhog Day.  I’m actually hoping he sees his shadow…maybe we’ll get a little bit of winter!  In the meantime, we’ve been trying to make our classroom feel just a little more “wintry.”  We read Snowballs by Lois Ehlert and painted our own snow people over a collage of torn tissue paper.  The idea for these charming little snowmen came from Deep Space Sparkle.  If you’re a teacher looking for art ideas, you must visit.  It’s full of wonderful art lessons for K-6.  You will find instructions for these snowman collages along with so many other awesome lessons.

You could pre-cut pieces of tissue paper, but I love the look of the torn pieces.  I was going to pre-tear the paper, but decided to let the children tear the paper themselves.  I remember trying some torn paper collages (à la Leo Lionni) with older students and never forgot how difficult it was for them to get over the “imperfect” look of the torn paper.  They wanted to use scissors to get that perfect cut.  One of the things I love about Kindergartens is their creativity and willingness to try anything.  Their creative techniques often include things I would never think of and their results are often quite delightful.I find different colours of tempera paint give different results with regards to texture and coverage.  I tried the liquid tempera and the tempera pucks.  I like the transparency of the white paint and the collage.  Unfortunately, the white paint was a little too transparent, so I decided to use the tempera pucks.  The paint dries faster and the children were able to add a second coat to their snowman.  I can’t wait to display these little masterpieces!

a little tempera, a little water, and a straw

What’s art without a little mess?  Paint is always readily available for the children.  Random lines, colour blocking, shapes and figures usually emerge from their paintings.  I often demonstrate how to use new materials and I think there is a place for teaching new techniques as well.  The children did a colour wash using tempera pucks.  They painted a background of colour as a first step in this mini “project.”  I called it a “project” to get the children to think about revisiting their piece.  Of course, they thought that the colour wash WAS the picture.  Yes, they were beautiful on their own, but this was a painting that would be done in two steps.  Once the paint dried, we added long “puddles.”  A straw and some deep breaths later, and voilà!  A beautiful landscape of trees!  The creative process is what I want to encourage at this stage, but I have to admit the finished products were impressive.  The children made this quite clear when they came in this morning.  Many of them went over to the bulletin board and admired their paintings.  “Wow!” is what I heard over and over again.  It’s so rewarding to see these little artists develop appreciation for their own and each others’ artwork.