Monday, May 6, 2013

Earth Inspired Watercolor

Whenever possible I like to link a project or experience to a book. It creates more meaning for kids and deepens their understanding of both the book, the project, and their world. I've noticed with Big Brother that because I've done that often since he was little he looks for those connections on his own. Developing these skills in children young will not only add to their understanding but give them better success in school and become a lifelong habit which they enjoy and utilize.

Two recent projects included creating a paper mache Earth globe and an Earth collage. 
In the last few weeks we have been reading books about planet Earth and following up with some Earth Day themed projects. Most of our discussion had centered around the idea that Earth is the place we live and everything around us. We talked about how animals live on Earth too and it's our job to help take care of the animals and the Earth. He's still a little young for some of the more complex Earth concepts, but he was able to think about the idea of Earth as a place we live and brainstorm a few things we can do to take care of it.

The book that helped him connect to what taking care of the Earth meant was The Earth and I by Frank Asch. In the story a boy shares what the Earth does for him and some ways he can care for the environment in return. Big Brother had a lot of questions about the pages where the boy finds a local river area very polluted and then cleans it up.

In this book Asch used an interesting watercolor technique to illustrate. We recently found a collection of liquid watercolors at a yard sale and I knew Big Brother could experiment with them in a way that looked similar to the illustrations. I thought we would also add in the experiment of sprinkling salt onto the painting. A final part of the project involved my curiosity of seeing whether or not he could tell me if his own work connected to the stories we'd been reading.

For this project we used watercolor paper, liquid watercolors, water, a sponge, and table salt. 

First we wet the paper with water and a sponge.

Then Big Brother used brushes to paint the liquid water colors onto the paper. Wetting the paper first meant the colors spread more easily and blended into one another. 

He filled the entire paper with the water colors and, as often happens, he got intrigued with mixing the colors both on the palette and paper.

While the paint was still wet we sprinkled table salt onto the painting. This was a new step for me and I didn't see anything happen as quickly as I thought it would. As I went inside to get some coarse sea salt Big Brother took almost the rest of the salt in the bowl into one hand and smeared it onto the middle of the painting. But, it's all part of the experiment . . .

After the watercolor dried we brushed the salt off the picture. The salt changed the color of the underlying watercolor where it had touched it. We weren't able to brush the large clump of salt out of the middle, although it gave the painting a different texture. With older kids they could use a thin black marker or pen to create some specific shapes or images on the dried paper. We left our painting as is.

When I asked Big Brother to tell me about the painting he told me it was "Earth with all the animals living on it." So although he didn't connect directly to Asch's book, he did connect to the theme we'd been exploring together. 

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