Thursday, July 1, 2010

First Grade
Figure in Action

I make sure every grade does some kind of self portrait, and the first grade creates a full body drawing. Using simple shapes like ovals and rectangles, we combine them into a complex shape, the human body. These were painted in watercolor.

Monet Unit

The first graders learn about Claude Monet, first doing the tissue paper collage with oil pastel in the style of his water lily paintings. Then, we make something two dimensional a little bit three dimensional- the lilies in this bird's eye view are folded so they protrude off the page. We used construction paper crayons for the animals.

Observational Leaf Drawings

Using a variety of real leaves, students learned about contour drawing to make a beautiful drawing. First, we used pencil, then outlined in sharpie, and then, early finishers created lovely backgrounds with lots of crayon leaf rubbings surrounding the subject.

Jasper Johns Collages

Painter Jasper Johns is well known for using bright color and text in his paintings, so we borrowed from him by using students' initials in this colorful paper collage. Construction paper is the basis, but I also gave the kids some corrogated paper to add a bit of texture.


This was actually just a sub activity, but the results were so charming I put some up here. I left the book Nutsy the Robot Goes to School for the substitute teacher to read, some gray paper, sharpies, crayons, and some geometric shape tracers, and voila! Adorable. The concept of creating a complex shape using simple shapes as building blocks is important in art from kindergarten through adulthood.

Ehlert Food Collage

I loved teaching this unit because it's so colorful and playful, there are a variety of art skills and media involved, kids feel very confident about what the subject looks like, and it gives us a chance to talk about nutrition as well as art. Lois Ehlert's BEAUTIFUL book, Eating the Alphabet, was the inspiration here. She created these illustrations with a technique similar to Eric Carle's, by making paintings, and then cutting shapes from the paintings to form the collaged illustrations.

Clothesline Drawing

Art teachers spend a lot of time and effort helping our students draw human beings, especially the face, but one important way we reveal our identities as people is our choice of clothing. So, for this project, we talked about observing and adding detail to clothes. I hung a real clothesline across the room and filled it with different articles of clothing to help make the drawings as realistic as possible. This drawing was done on a long piece of brown craft paper, using pencil, sharpie, and construction paper crayon.

Audubon Birds

With a little help from the media center, students learned about John James Audubon and created birds based on images in books. These were made from heavy cardstock, colored with crayon, and collaged with paper feathers. It would be even cooler if you have the money for real ones!


  1. I absolutely love your projects and appreciate the time you spent to post all the info and photos! You go, girl!