Fly, Soar, Flutter, Squirm, Zoom…


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  Second Grade Flying Insect Collages, with verbs….except for the kiddos who didn’t make a flying insect…except for the few who chose a preposition or adjective.  Haha! We are focusing on using lots of recycled materials around the art room this … Continue reading

Watercolor Flowers

Second grade students painted these beautiful, bright flowers.  As a jumping off point, we used Donna Hughes video “Art Lessons For Children”.

It’s a wonderful video lesson for learning how to use watercolor.  Kids learn how to move the paint around on the paper, as well as mix colors.

After the paint dries, we draw the details of the flowers with sharpies, experimenting with different pattern and texture.  Some of the kids even played with depth by adding black areas.

In the past, we sometimes have added shrinky dink bugs stuck on with dimensional foam tape, just for fun. This time we just ran out of time, but I think they are stunning – with or without bugs.

Clay Leaf Bowls

This is a project that I can’t take credit for.  It’s been floating around the web for a while.  However, the process is simple and the results are stunning.

I’ve done this project with kids as young as kindergarten and up to fifth grade, as an enrichment sort of project.

The timing is important, at least in Colorado.  I love to do this project in the fall and ask students to bring in a leaf from home (in a Ziploc bag to stay fresh).  But with a class rotation that can go on for a while, it can be tricky getting leaves that are soft and supple before it gets cold and the leaves get crunchy.

So, here’s the process.

Have students roll out a slab of clay.  I’ve used a red body and a white body clay.  It’s just a personal preference and sometimes dicatated by the type of glaze.

Students place the leaf bumpy side down on the clay.  (One side of the leaf will have veins that are a little bumpier and more pronounced)

Either the students (or maybe an adult helper, if they are little) cuts the leaf out with a needle tool or a paper clip or tapestry needle.

Remove the excess clay and put the prettiest side of the leaf facing up in a bowl.  Gently press the clay into the bowl, shaping the leaf.

Let dry and remove from the bowl.  Fire – I usually use a clay that is fired 04 to 06.

Let students apply glaze and re-fire.

Some favorite glaze options: Mayco Elements Chunkies, and watercolor underglazes with a clear overglaze.

Students and parents both are always delighted with the end result!  (me too)

Russian Basilicas

This is a great line and pattern lesson for second grade students.  They love to look at architecture, especially from other cultures.

Materials:  Watercolor paper, hand outs with architectural elements, pencils, sharpies, liquid watercolor or (semi moist in pans), brushes, salt, saran wrap, sequins, glitter glue flat backed rhinestones, etc. Resource pictures of Russian onion domed buildings.

Vocabulary: Russian Architecture, Onion Dome, Basilica, Pattern, Embellishment, Flat Wash


  1.  View pictures of Russian architecture, particularly onion-domed buildings.    Students practice drawing these buildings on white scrap paper.  I demonstrate drawing some of the elements.
  2. 2. Students now choose a piece of watercolor paper and use a pencil to draw their Russian buildings, filling the paper and incorporating line and pattern into the overall design.
  3. Students paint the background first, using a wet on wet watercolor wash in cool colors and adding texture by laying crumpled saran wrap on top until dry or adding salt to wet areas.
  4. Next, students paint the buildings, making sure to use a fairly dry brush (for better control of color placement) to add color to the buildings.  I demonstrate jumping around in areas of my paper, not painting next to a wet area.
  5. When the paint is finished drying, students can add embellishments such as glitter glue to highlight patterns and gluing rhinestones and sequins to buildings.

Student Examples:

Collages in the style of Eric Carle

This cute and quizzical elephant was created (by Grace) by collaging hand painted papers especially made by our second graders.

We began this lesson by learning about favorite artist/author Eric Carle.  This movie:  Eric Carle, Picture Writer is a great way to see him at work.

Students painted the papers collaboratively at tables on tissue paper, using many tools such as stamps, carpet bits, cardboard, combs, etc. We tried to do as Eric Carle did – just paint pretty papers but not think about painting something in particular.   After the papers had dried, they were sorted by color and cut down to manageable sizes.

Meanwhile, student had been drawing animals, insects and mythical creatures, birds, etc in a “coloring book simple” style. They used these preliminary drawings as a reference for their collages.   These collages were as much fun for me to look at as they were for students to make.  Enjoy these student examples:

3D Neighborhood Collages

This is a slightly altered project from the Usborne Complete Book of Art Idea.  Second grade created these for the school art show.  This project came on the heels of our big Eric Carle collage project.
 If you look closely at the projects, they are made of three separate sections (or strips) that are then stapled to a piece of poster board.I gave each student a piece of 4 1/2″ X 12″ white tag to work with for the first strip, 6″ X 12″ for the second, and the last strip (the skyscrapers) are made on a slightly taller piece (sometimes I even give them the entire 9″ X 12″ piece).
 They are then given a scrap box filled with lots of hand painted patterned papers  The first strip must have a street and a row of houses. The second row must have more houses! The last row gets skyscrapers.  Lots of super creative kids added landmarks, such as the St. Louis Arch (go figure, we’re outside of Denver), the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty along with the tall buildings.  
 I had them leave a slight bit of white at the bottom of each strip. Staple all three rows on to a piece of railroad board or poster board, bending each row slightly so that they stand out in a curved arc.