Since the leaves were falling outside, they became the subject matter for this exploration. It could really be anything you wish students to draw. I had some leave shapes that the kindergarten students could put under their paper and trace if they wanted or just look at and draw from. I would have preferred to have real leaves for them, but that morning it was raining and plans didn't work out.
After leaves were drawn on the paper, a thick line of glue was applied to the lines. Many students needed lots of time for this. It's unfortunate that many Kindergarten teachers shy away from letting students use bottles of glue. Many forbid it in their classrooms opting for glue sticks that don't ever really stick. Some will use the good old bottles of Elmer's but will pour it into a plate or sponge for students. They need that fine-motor practice of squeezing and applying the glue, so I gave them that opportunity whenever I could.
Once the glue lines were covering the lines, the students sprinkled a generous amount of coarse salt onto the glue. I tapped off the extra and placed them on the drying rack for the students.
The following class, I tapped any remaining salt that isn't stuck down off and passed out the papers and supplies to students.
We had a brief discussion about what they think will happen when they put the watery paint on top of the salt. I wrote down some of the answers to document them with the final products. Here are some of what they said:
I had students pair up so they could work together mixing one Primary and one Secondary color. They each painted a paper and added some line design on it using a variety of scraping tools and the back of their paintbrushes. The goal was for each pair to make all six Intermediate (Tertiary) colors. Our drying racks quickly filled up!
I instructed students to put their names on the back of each paper before they started or they would not be getting their painted papers back. I'm sure you are not surprised to hear that I had a whole pile of no names. They were just randomly distributed without too many groans. Honestly, the kids had so much fun creating the papers that they didn't care if they got the one they made back or not.
The next class, we looked at the work of Grant Wood. They worked in groups to discuss what they saw in his paintings. We discussed shapes, colors, patterns, and anything else they saw. We talked about how he was a Regionalist artist and what that meant. We had just enough time before class ended to pass out our painted papers and have students choose whatever color of construction paper they would like to use for the sky of a landscape.
If you are an art teacher you have no doubt taught a color wheel lesson or two (or two hundred!) I'm always on the lookout to shake things up away from the boring fill-in the blank color wheel lessons. I do think it is a very important lesson to teach, but we need to change it up some. I continue to refer to a color wheel with my adult students.
So...take the students outside and gather up some leaves and start printing!
Make sure that the leaves still contain moisture. The dry leaves will just crumble.
View the video demonstration below for complete instructions.
Even though many of our lessons throughout the year incorporate different lessons on color theory, we have to start somewhere with our youngest students.
Some of the best times I can remember in the art room with my youngest students were during our first color lessons. Seeing the fun experimentation and pure enjoyment as they discover how colors mix has to put a smile on your face. It wasn't uncommon during these classes that I would look up and see the classroom teacher at the door because we lost track of time.
I like using hands-on ways of introducing the concept of Primary colors and how they mix to make new colors. One of the ways I have done this in the past handfuls of years is with an activity I call Color Handshakes.
The next class we continued the color explorations.
Students were given the three primary colors of tempera paint and a short demonstration on how to use the paint and paintbrush properly. They were left to mix and explore all they wanted. A big 12x18 paper provided lots of room for exploration. A smaller brush (regular watercolor set size) allowed for time to be focused on smaller areas instead of a big mess of washes of color.
As students were working, I would periodically ask what colors they were seeing. It was fun to observe their conversations. One student would look over and ask another how they got a certain color. They were always excited to share what they did to get that color.
Theresa Gillespie spent over 20 years teaching Art in the Moline School District in Illinois. She has a BA degree in Art Education and a MEd degree in Education & Technology. She also is a graduate level instructor for The Art of Education