Friday, February 7, 2014

In the Art Room: Winter Collage Landscapes by Kindergarten

Alright, to those of you in the Midwest, this looks awfully familiar, amirite?! I have buddies in Indiana whose children have missed so many days due to snow that they'll be in school until the end of June. THE END OF JUNE, PEOPLE! Meanwhile, in Tennessee, we've not had one single snow day. Like not even a speck o' snow. So it's a good thing my friends in kindergarten-land created these masterpieces as it seems this is the only snow we're gonna get.
Now, lemme give you the run down on my schedule with kindergarten. I see them for 45 minutes at a time every 6 days. And on that day, I have three classes of 'em back-to-back-to-Ima-bout-to-lose-my-mind-back. This project took us three of those art classes. Here's what each of those days looked like in brief:

Day #1: We looked at Vincent van Gogh's The Starry Night. We chatted about the time of day he portrayed, what season it might be, how the elements of a landscape are background, middleground and foreground and the back story of the painting. In kinder-friendly terms. Then I asked them what his painting might look like if it were winter? From there, each kiddo was given a 9" X 12" piece of white paper and a paint brush. They were to paint any kind of line near the middle of their paper with turquoise for the background. This was then mixed with white to create a snowy tint. They continued to paint down their paper with a line for middle and foreground. Once those were on the drying rack, we met again on the floor to read a book about van Gogh.
Day #2: I showed up wearing my Starry Night Light Up dress! This got a lot of cheers (and even an applause when I turned the lights on) from my wee friends. This time, we shifted our focus from the elements of a landscape to the sky van Gogh portrayed. We discussed how he loved to use bold lines and shape in his work to convey movement. We talked about how we can create our skies anyway we like...but sometimes it's okay to be inspired by other artists. After all, van Gogh was inspired by Japanese prints! Students were instructed to pick a sky color from an assortment of blues, black and violets. From there, they cut their land from their white paper, glued it to their chosen background paper and created their sky with oil pastels. I encouraged the little artists to practice sketching their moon and stars on the back before tackling the front.

Day #3: On this final day, we covered so freakin' much. Because the students would be using shapes to construct their houses, I did a little pre-assessment at the door. As the students entered, I showed them a colored-in shape. They were to tell me the name of the shape and color. This proved to be a wake-up call to me. Some of them didn't know their simple shapes! Review to do!

Once we were seated on the floor, we did a vocabulary review with a technique I learned a long time ago from my amazing Aunt Kimmy. She's a teacher and when I was a kid, she taught us something called the Number Game (was that what it was called, Kimmy?). I changed it up a bit...and I call it The Clap and Slap. For this, we review vocabulary, read vocabulary and count the syllables in our vocabulary words. It goes like this:

Sitting criss-cross (applesauce, because, after all, this is kindergarten), gently tap your legs twice, clap your hands twice and alternate snapping your fingers. Those alternating snaps will be used to count the syllables in the vocabulary words. For example, we slapped, clapped and snapped out the syllables of: land(snap)-scape(snap), back(snap)-ground(snap), middle(snap)-ground(snap), fore(snap)-ground(snap). After each clap/slap/snap, the children were to hold up the number of syllables we just counted with their fingers. We did this with all our vocabulary: Vincent van Gogh, The Starry Night, collage, scissors, paper, glue, square, rectangle, triangle.
With the review behind us, I introduced the kids to bit of math with their house collages. On their tables were tin trays filled with leftover painted paper scraps (ooooh, pretty! Thanks for the idea, Painted Paper!) I had cut the papers into three different sized squares: 3" X 3", 2" X 2" and 1" X 1". I held up a square and we chatted about how many sides it had, how many angles, etc...and then I asked, how could I turn this into a house? The first response was that it needed a roof. I had them tell me all the ways I could create a roof and then I presented them with this: I want to make a triangle roof but I only want to cut my square one time. Who can I do that?
One genius always guesses: by cutting it from one corner to the other! And, viola! I have a square cut in half! And a roof for me and a friend.

We did the same routine when cutting out a rectangle for our door. Some kids decided to use the other half of the rectangle for a chimney. Then I touched for just a moment on little details like door knobs or window panes...or anything else they came up with. 

Once the details of house making were discussed, we talked a bit about the placement of our houses. What sizes will the ones in the foreground be? How would that compare to the houses in the middle and back ground? The kids quickly picked up on the idea of creating houses in varying sizes. I asked them to create at least three houses in any size they liked.
"All of my houses are teeny tiny because they are in the far away background!" Making houses THAT small takes skill, people! I love this mini-villlage in the distance!
A whole lotta foreground houses.
When I asked this artist why there was a tiny house in the foreground, she said, "That's not a tiny house, that's the DOG'S house!"  Silly me.
I love everything about this whimsical piece, especially that hill and the big starry sky.
AND NOW FOR ONE LAST ANNOYING ATTEMPT AT SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION: I'm so thrilled to be nominated for Art Ed Blog of the Year...and I'd be super honored to have your vote. But you don't have to JUST vote for me, you can vote for multiple art blogs. If you've not checked out the line-up, there are some incredible blogs on the list! If you'd consider a vote for mine, I'd be just so super happy. 


 Visit here to check out those blogs and cast your vote.
Thanks, kids! Chat with you soon!


  1. I love these wonderful creations & once again I am thinking that you art teacher I wish I had had. Thats why I voted for you, because I truly enjoy your blog!

  2. Um, that looks like here in northern NY too! But here in NY school ALWAYS goes to the end of June, and we rarely need to use snow days, because we are tough! This week's snow did = one snow day in most area schools. Day after? Everyone was back in the classroom. Ice is a bigger challenge for the school buses.

  3. I forgot to mention in the comment above - this kindergarten work is spectacular! I love the steps you used!

  4. Anonymous2/08/2014

    Ooooo, I love this lesson. Looks like a little Eric Carle meets Starry Night. Pinning this one so I don't forget.

    Also, the dress! It's amazing how you come up with these things!


  5. Anonymous1/15/2017

    Making art part of the classroom program is a must. Many times I tire of the same old way of presenting a project. Since discovering your site it is no longer an issue. You are amazing. Your ideas are amazing and absolutely perfect for kindergarten. The lesson formats are easy to follow and it's clear that you understand the grade level. Thanks for begin so creative and enthusiastic. What an inspiration.

  6. Anonymous1/15/2017

    being not begin


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