Today marks the start of a new series of projects for my students – October’s theme is all about growing! But, as usual, I like to complicate things by combining more than I need to to make a project fun. Thus, my fifth graders are creating water lilies – which grow – but also studying the work of, who else? Claude Monet.
We started off today with a brief virtual tour of Claude Monet’s work. Students immediately saw the different in his work than many others they’ve seen because of all his brushstrokes and movement. We discussed how he was an impressionist painter and most famous for his many pieces with water lilies as the subject.
When on pinterest looking for information regarding a completely different subject (wedding bells), I stumbled upon a neat project by Deceptively Educational. Her son was introduced to Claude Monet by the art teacher so she made a fun water lily project with him (Kudos for being an amazing mother, by the way.). What caught my eye was that she made it 3-Dimensional! Whenever you turn a project into something 3-D, students get just a bit more excited. I will not be doing the project exactly like her for multiple reasons. 1: I like to put my own twist on any project I’m adapting. 2: I want to increase the challenge level both for myself and for the students (5th grade, remember). 3: I wanted students to get a lot more painting experiences and form building
So students started today with a very fun and lively demo using cool colors. Students put their name on the paper and using a palette of cool watercolor paints, began painting their paper full of blue. They were encouraged to occasionally add a stroke of purple or green to bring depth (dimension) into the water-like painting. But the big goal? To see the brushstrokes like Claude Monet and to feel as though we were looking at water. Oh, an of course, to fill the whole paper. Some students would leave white – we can either fill this in next time or leave it as reflections in the water. Note: Remind students not to spend too much time painting in one space or else they may find themselves tearing the paper because of too much water. Another Note: Students will want to move fast and scribble with their paint at times – it’s exciting, encourage them to use a figure 8 motion or curves – slow and steady wins the race.
It was rewarding to hear the kids get super excited. My favorite part about projects like this is working with the kids much like myself, who are very used to making things organized – perfectionists, some might say – OCD, some others might say. I loved having 1 on 1 convos with them regarding how I am the same way but today was a chance to break free from that organization and move like water. Having that 1 on 1 with students is always a chance to have them experience something new – and it works.
At the end, students could see how that when the paint began to dry, the darker areas with more paint showed a lot of movement from the paint strokes. And the best part, once the paper is dry – if they want more paint strokes, it’s very easy to add!
More of the project includes creating a pink/white impressionist sheet that we will cut into pedals and form a lily; another step will to be use greens and yellows to create a sheet from which we can cut the lily pad leaves. Having the chance to paint twice more will allow time to discuss other directions you can go with the paint. Layering colors, creating new colors, etc.
We also had time to discuss how when a teacher does something for the very first time, sometimes things change abruptly, don’t work, or have to be approached a second time in a new way – the students were excited to be invited into this experience because it meant that there was plenty of room for mistakes!