Kindergarten art lessons seem to be a universal challenge to all art teachers. How do you engage 20+ little learners who are more interested in asking to go to the bathroom and telling you about the latest Scooby Doo movie than listening to your well thought out art lesson of the day?! A few years ago I submitted a proposal for a presentation at my state art education conference. I was very happy when my presentation “Conquering Kindergarten” was accepted. I collected all my favorite art lessons for kindergarten, borrowed a projector from the school and headed out to the convention. When I walked into my presentation room, I was shocked— there were TONS of people there; some even sitting in the aisles and packed into the doorways. It seemed kindergarten art was a “tough nut to crack”
Today I am going to share with you one of my favorite art projects for the kindergarten set– Monster Collages. This lesson has three secret ingredients to engage the kindergarteners
1. MONSTERS!! Most little kids looooove monsters
2. Simple shapes– break down the monster into shapes that ALL students can draw so every learner is successful
3. Glitter Paint– I know some art teachers HATE glitter, but the kids love it, so I embrace a little sparkle every now and then
To start off this lesson, I used a monster picture book. I looked for one that had simple text and would be a quick read (in order to hold the kids attention). I also wanted a book that had a variety of monsters of all shapes, sizes, and colors to give the students some ideas for their own monsters. A book like this one would be a great choice:
I usually gather the students around me on the carpet and read. After reading the class can brainstorm ideas for how to use shapes to create a monster. Questions to ask: What shapes can you use for a monsters body? What details can we add to our monsters and what shapes can we use to create them?
I send the kids to the seats and give them a piece of white drawing paper (somewhere around 12×18) and a black crayon. I give students a crayon rather than a pencil because they erase too much when they draw with a pencil. For this project I have the kids draw step by step, but not in the traditional sense. I will not demonstrate on a white board or chalk board, but rather just verbally give instructions. I may say something like this.
1. Close your eyes and imagine your monster. Try to picture what his body will look like? What kind of monster will he or she be?
2. Take you crayon and draw a BIG shape for your monsters body– it can be an oval, square, heart etc.
3. Draw some shapes for your monsters arms
4. Draw shapes for your monsters legs
5. What kind of eyes will your monster have? What shape can you use to make your eyes? Will he/she have one eye or 5 eyes?
6. What other details will your monster have– give some suggestions. Horns, claws, antennae
At this point I tell the students to put their name on the back and give them a tray of liquid tempera paint (fluorescent would be fun for this project) and have them paint their monster. I encourage them to select ONE color for the monster’s body, but can use as many other colors as they wish for the other areas of their monster. If they have enough time, they can use the black crayon to draw a baby monster similar to their big monster and paint that as well. This is a good “early finisher” activity for those kids that rip through an art project.
The next art class I have the students make a funky background paper for their monster. We talk a little about picking contrasting colors. I give them a sheet of paper, placed on top of a construction paper placemat. I walk around the room with a bunch of glittery paints and let them pick 2-3 paints that I squeeze on their paper. They have to cover the whole paper with glitter paint and use a plastic comb tool to rake designs into the wet paint.
The next week when the paper is dry, cut out the monsters and glue them to the background. If you have a little extra time, the students can make a little book about their monster and attach it to their finished project.
I thought this project turned out quite well. The students were excited about their monsters and looked forward to sharing them (and their little booklets) with their classmates at the end of class. I mounted these on black paper to really make the colors pop and included them in our district art show– the parents loved them!
Do you have any successful kindergarten lessons? Do you have another monster lesson you like to do or favorite monster book you like to read? I would love to hear about it!