Updated: Mar 19, 2019
Here is a fun, simple, process based art project that you can do with your 3-5 year olds. I began by reading them the book Sky Color, by Peter H. Reynolds.
Give them a piece of white watercolor paper. If you don't have watercolor paper you could use any type of thick white paper. Watercolor paper is pricey, so I like to give my kids one sheet of watercolor paper per project, then if they want to do a second one we just use plain old copy paper.
Oil pastels (substitute with crayons)
Watercolors (liquid or pan)
Copy paper (for doing more than one)
Next demonstrate on a separate piece of paper how the oil pastels will resist the watercolors. Put down some white oil pastels. Then go over the white oil pastel area with watercolors and the area with the white oil pastel will stay mostly white.
Ask them to choose one of the oil pastels and draw a cloud shape on their white paper. You may want to talk to them about cloud shapes. Clouds are typically made up of curved lines, but really they can look like anything! Have them practice making curved shapes in the air before they draw it. After they draw their cloud shape have them color in their cloud shape with a white oil pastel to create a space that will stay white under the watercolor paint. Younger kids may do a little and then get bored, that is okay. The older kids will color in most of the cloud white.
Hold onto the watercolors and/or water until after they have colored in their cloud. When you are working with kids of any age always be careful not to give them all their supplies at once, otherwise they will jump ahead.
Next give them watercolors. You can use pan or liquid watercolors. If you are working with more than two children I recommend liquid watercolors. You can read more about how to use watercolors with young kids here. Also give them a cup of water and a watercolor brush. This is the fun part, they get to color their sky any colors they want. The white cloud will stay white, so they can go right over it. If some color gets into their clouds and they get upset remind them that clouds do have some color in them!
Salt is optional. After they have finished with the watercolor, they can sprinkle some salt onto their wet painting. The salt will create an interesting texture.
Remember there is no wrong way to do process based art. You are giving them the tools and showing them a technique and it is up to them to decide how they want to use it!
Afterwards ask them to tell you about their sky colors!
If you would like to learn more about how to use oil pastels read my new blog post here!