Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Aspen Trees

Like many new teachers, I inherited a classroom full of stuff when I took this position six years ago. Some of the stuff was junk: a box of sawdust... shoeboxes full of un-rubbery rubber bands, probably older than I... a dried out snakeskin (NOT okay for someone petrified of that which slithers)... a very real and living bat, hibernating amongst the boxes of yarn... yup.

Luckily, I inherited a lot of good things, too, including stacks of old Arts & Activities magazines. This lesson came from a back issue, and I found the lesson online in PDF! Get the PDF here! It was written by Elaine Canfield, so thanks to her, wherever she may be. While I modified it for my kiddos, the essentials are the same.

I do this project with my fifth graders as part of our painting unit.

We start out by discussing the natural beauty of the Aspen trees.


Then, I demonstrate the 'quick flick' technique used to make the black and white tree trunks. Essentially, you need a little black tempera in a styrofoam tray, some small scraps of cardboard, and some practice! I tell the kiddos that it's essential to line up each cardboard 'flick' with the next one in order to create the look of the straight lines that form the trees.

Students do a manilla practice version before their final copy on 12x18" white paper.

On the second day, we use the wet-on-wet technique to create the smooth, airy skies, and the dry brush technique to make tufts of grass.

Typically, we need a third day to do our leaves, for which we use little sea sponges and more tempera, this time in beautiful fall hues.

Where is this child's smock!? I fail.

This project also serves as a good discussion point for horizon line and perspective. The kids always 'ooo' and 'ahh' over their own multi-method results. Also, it gets a lot of compliments when hung in the hallways. And that just makes me look good (hehe).

1 comment :

  1. At our sculpture workshop last week...the teacher showed us how to make sawdust "clay". It was wonderful..texture so neat!!!!