Tuesday, February 18, 2014

In the Art Room: Cherry Blossom Trees by Second Grade

A couple of weeks ago, I shared with you a work-in-progress painted tree project by my second grade students (ya'll can visit here for the full post as it will cover everything I'm about to skip) and I'm excited to say these masterpieces are now complete!
After learning about Japan's cherry blossom trees and their lovely blooms which are cause for celebration, the kids painted blossoms on both their practice paper and their watercolor painting. Because their practice papers were just as lovely as the finished product, I had the children matte and frame both works of art today.
But before I get to that, let's chat about how we went about painting those blossoms. The children were to paint on their practice paintings first until they were comfortable painting on their watercolor painting. For the blossoms, the kids had a light pink, a dark pink and yellow. I showed the kids how to completely dunk their brush into the dark pink, put just the tip of the brush in the light pink and lay the brush flat on their paper and wiggle it to create each flower petal. Loading the brush with that much paint meant that they could paint one whole flower without reloading their brush. Once that paint had dried a pinch, the kids used q-tips to add the yellow paint to the center.
After they were comfortable painting on their practice paper, the kids added blossoms to their watercolor paintings.
The kids loved those practice paintings so much they were constantly asking if they could take them home (because they know I hoard all their work until the end of the year for the art show, they don't even bother to ask if they can take their watercolors home. Poor kids!). I kept thinking maybe I'd come up with something to do with those practice paintings so I asked them to leave them in the art room. And I'm glad I did. They look just as lovely framed as the watercolor paintings, I think! The above is an example of a practice painting...

And this is the artist's final piece. It's interesting how some children really followed their practice paintings to the point that they match their final product and how other kids completely changed their plans along the way. I made sure to tell them that it was just "practice" and that they could create something totally different on their final piece.
But I'm blabbering. Let's chat about how we framed these, ermkay? The kids used a 12" X 18" sheet of white construction paper as their background frame. I cut a ton of large origami paper (purchased through Sax by the brand Roylco) and cut it down to 2" X 12" strips. The kids glued their chosen origami papers to the top and bottom of the white paper.

And then, because I had visions of them haphazardly mounting their watercolor piece all crooked in the middle, I had them use a ruler to measure one inch in for their watercolor paper. And then I gave myself a big ole pat on the back for including math into the lesson...even if it was just for an inch. Once both practice papers and final paintings were framed and on the drying rack our 30 minutes of art were up. I didn't even get to see these lovelies in all their colorful glory until this afternoon when I was taking them off the drying rack.
Oh! Can I please ask your thoughts on something? So, this painting you see here? The one with the super detailed sky? It took this artist about 3 classes to complete (that's right, an hour and a half). Now. I totally relate to my slower working artists as I'm a very slower artist myself. Which is why I struggle so much in workshops. I need time to: 1. Process the directions; 2. Think of an idea that I love; 3. Put my idea together in some sort of way that I'm happy with. In workshops I rarely make it past #1 when I notice that my peers are already well into #2. And I hate that! I get all uptight and anxious and who can create like that?! For that reason, I always let my slower students work at their own pace...almost to a fault. But I want them to feel comfortable creating and never feel that stress that I often do. So, art teachers: what do you do in these situations? Do you hold your students to a set time frame and move on? If I do that then I have these beautiful half finished pieces. Or do you allow those students to continue working...and if you do, what do your early finishers do? Mine have been content with our current options of origami, free draw on dry erase boards or reading a book with me. Just curious what you do in these situations.
I was told that the little black specks were the pollen coming off the flowers.
And viola! Cherry Blossom Tree Paintings by Second Grade complete!


  1. I love these! Beautiful!!!!!

  2. These are wonderful! They remind me of a Sumi-e lesson that I do on occasion. As far as students being slower workers, I try to allow them plenty of time to finish. I usually have another project for other students to work on. I also have a "free time" shelf, with plain white paper, how-to-draw books, activity sheets and (gasp!) coloring sheets-but I have some really awesome coloring sheets, which often come with an assignment, like coloring part of it in warm colors and another part in cool colors, etc. Sometimes I will start two lessons within a day of each other, and make sure one of them is something they can work on independently when they get free time. My cohort and I also let the kids who are behind come to school early to work on their projects or take work home, but our students are older.

  3. Anonymous2/19/2014

    In my room, students earn points each class period that we save up and redeem for a Free Art Day, which usually amounts to once every couple months or so. Any work that is not finished in my allotted time has to be done on Free Art Day before they can actually free art it up. They know this is the rule, and although they may miss out on Free Art Day (which, to be honest, is mostly kids drawing from how-to-draw books and scribbling on white boards - not insanely valuable in my opinion), most of them are happy to spend time finishing their artworks.

  4. Hi Cassie! I continue to enjoy your blog and look forward to each new post! I was wondering if you would add me to your reading list.

  5. Anonymous10/31/2014

    Hello Cassie!! Roylco's art blog would love to link up to this post, featuring our Japanese Carp Wind Sock Kits. Thanks so much for using them--they look amazing!

  6. Roylco can link away! I love their color diffusing products. Please feel free to share. Thanks!

  7. Great post! Thanks for sharing


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