All grades started with an Art to Remember project. In 3rd and 4th-grade I choose to do flamingos. Click here to get to the original lesson plan and video.
I explained the project and showed them the underpainting. This is the base of the image... simply the water and the sky.
With any remaining time, I asked students to use practice paper to draw the jungle seen on their own... no instructions. We did a sitting gallery share (click here to see a sitting gallery share) so in hopes that it would allow all my students to share their ideas with others. I also had the advantage of looking to see what students might draw that would be less successful for this project. I took that information to lead me in my next lesson. For example, I noticed that students were drawing a full tree in their flamingo scene. In the next week lesson, I talked about how drawing a full tree next to the flamingo would tell the viewer that the flamingo was as big as a tree. This allowed me to teach the lessons necessary for a successful realistic project.
I showed students to draw the flamingo using PlayColor Sticks. They were given a simple 'how-to' of the bird body. Then asked to create it and join me back on the carpet for the next step. I then brought them through a short lesson on watercolor and dry brush technique. The reason I split the two portions of this lesson up is because they were using two mediums and giving all the information at once was less than successful. You know how it goes... You watch your first section and learn what to change for your second section... By the time the last time teaching a lesson comes along, you're a rock star teacher and your students are extremely successful.
One little trick I discovered during this lesson was to teach my students to dab off their brush to get a more successful dry brush technique. Working in the elementary school and having two elementary kids at home has taught me that 'dab' means you strike a pose. So, every time I would remind them to 'dab', we would all do that silly little dance that is so popular right now.
The work was 100% dry from the previous lessons and it was time to do our final details. I created a short lesson to help me explain this to my students.
Then I let them work for about 12 minutes. Students were asked to do a gallery walk around the room to look at the work being done by others. This makes it intentional for me too. I quickly ask students to share some things that were great in other works that they might consider putting in theirs. I also have the opportunity to redirect any influences that I might want to keep contained... Like, I don't know, a top hat on a flamingo... You know if one person has that great idea, other will start to do that same thing. I always say it's OK to borrow ideas from others, but we want to make sure you are not taking the unique aspect of their work and putting it in yours. It's a tricky balance for both me and my students.
By the end of day three in class these artworks are completed and ready to be shipped off to Art to Remember.