Monday, January 22, 2018

Alphabet Soup

A few weeks ago I welcome my first guest blogger to MiniMatisse, Mark Rode. His Paper Dinosaur Sculptures are adoreable, be sure to check them out.  Today I'm honored to present you with an Art Teacher I have admired for years.  Lauralee Chambers has been an Art Educator for 25 years in Westchester, New York.  She teaches over 900 students, 6 sections a day at two different schools with a total of 36 sections in a 6 day cycle. Yep, you read that all right. This woman is a rockstar!  Lauralee not only teaches to the masses but also shares, shares, shares on her Instagram, @2art.chambers and on her Pinterest account, Lauralee Chambers.  This is how I recently saw Larualee's latest and greatest lesson, Alphabet Soup.  She was happy to share with us the process of this adoreable project right here on MiniMatisse.

Lauralee writes:

I have 6 sections of first grade and our classes are 45 minutes every 6 days. I begin this project by telling them that “I know first graders are alphabet experts” and ask them to recite the alphabet to me. I ask them if they know any alphabet books and I tell them that I have been collecting alphabet books for a very long time because I love letters! I share some books in my collection and show them my other assortment of letters objects that I have including my alphabet necklace. I also created a smart board document with many, many images of letters on things, with the last slide being a bowl of alphabet soup.

Day One:


  • 9x12 white drawing paper 90lb, or other for painting, with a pre-drawn pencil circle outline
  • Oil Pastels
  • Alphabet letter sheet visuals on tables to help them remember


After looking at many alphabet visuals and resources, teacher will demo how to draw letters of the alphabet in the circle (bowl) by pressing VERY HARD to put oil pastels down onto the paper. If not done thick enough, soup will cover their letters! I show students how to scatter their letters, rather than putting them in a line like they do for writing. They can go ANYWHERE, upside down, sideways, etc. Rotate the paper for each letter trying to keep them all large enough and thick enough. Colors should be repeated and if there is too much white space left after doing each letter of the alphabet, I have them hide their names in the bowl!

Day Two:


Liquid watercolor: I mix up a batch of broth color using yellow and orange and pour into containers for each table to share. This will wash over the letters from last class. Going outside of the lines is fine because teacher will cut circles out so they stay round! This should not take long. Put these away on drying rack and start plaid background “tablecloths”.
  • 12x18 white drawing paper with a larger circle, pre-drawn with sharpie. I traced these circles over to one side of the paper. (This is where they will glue down their soup in next class, as flat and centered as possible.)
  • Water based markers
  • Water containers
  • paint brushes, I like size 10 or 12

The Process:

Add any needed letters, prep for painting, demo washing broth over letters quickly in long strokes. Put these away on drying rack and begin plaid backgrounds.

Each student has 12X18 with a sharpie circle. Gather them around to demo a plaid pattern of vertical and horizontal lines leaving spaces between lines as you wish. I ask them to choose 3 or 4 colors that work well together. Students will need directions on how to JUMP over the soup bowl and continue their line on the other side. A bit challenging for some, but the irregularities add charm! Once drawn, students take a paint brush dip, and wipe, in water and trace/drag over the marker lines. Some chose to trace only over the vertical lines, others did all. Lots of options.
Put on the drying rack. Don’t forget names on the back!

Day Three:

  • Soft black vine charcoal broken into small pieces
  • Off white paper or tag board, cut to the size of a folded napkin
  • Glue sticks
  • Plastic metal imitation spoons
  • Glue gun for teacher use
  • Plastic alphabet beads, stickers (optional)-- The beads the photos are from Roylco


Everything comes together. Students glue their already cut out soup circle into the center of the larger circle and then glue down their napkin paper. Teacher demos the placement of shading. Students apply charcoal to the bottom and one side of the napkin and run along that line with a finger to soften or blur. Also apply charcoal around side and bottom half of the sharpie circle and smear with finger. Teacher will glue on spoons with hot glue.

Before the shadow is added:

After the shadow is added: 

Lauralee writes: The focus of this lesson combines literacy and letter formation/identification with an understanding of mixed media, using more than one art material in a lesson to create something that looks like real life objects.

This lesson is truely a treasure! I adore the end result. I want to thank Lauralee Chambers for sharing and celebrating on her Instagram so often.  A special thank you for being a guest blogger for MiniMatisse. It was so great to learn the process.  For more on the happenings of Chambers classroom visit her Instagram or email her at,


  1. Wow- this is such an adorable and original lesson! Thanks for sharing all the detailed steps- LOVE how they all came out :)

  2. love it. I'm going to use in my classroom

  3. Love this, I'm thinking of using it too.