Sometimes you do a project with your students that is just so perfect for their age level and ability that everybody is happy with the outcome, this is that project. I started this project by reading "Color Blocked" to my first grade students. They loved the book!
Supplies needed: "Color Blocked" Book, Sharpies, 12"x 18" paper, watercolors, watercolor brushes, containers for water, paper towels.
Welcome your first graders into the classroom and seat them at the rug for a quick story. After reading them "Color Blocked" show them an example of the finished project. Second and third graders could also do this project and would love it.
Next show them how to draw various pipes/cylinders coming out of the ceiling. This is a great opportunity to explain ellipses (the curve at the top and bottom of the cylinders). A few of the kids will actually get it and draw their ellipses correctly, the rest will draw their own versions, and that's ok! They can also draw pipes or cylinders coming out of the sides or bottom of their paper, and they can add switches, levers and anything else they can imagine up! First graders are so naturally creative, the sky is the limit here!
Have students go to their seats and decide if they want to draw a horizontal or vertical composition. Show them the difference. Then pass out the sharpies and have them begin by putting their names on the bottom right hand side of their paper. Some teachers like their students to put their names on the back, I like it on the front. I tell them I want their name on the front so everyone can see who did it when it is hanging on a wall. This also helps me learn names while they are drawing. At this age we can remind them to write small and neat. First graders write their names in such a cute way, as parents we always love looking back at how our kids used to write their names!
Next they can begin drawing their pipes with a sharpie directly onto their paper. When they seem to be almost done with their pipes pass out the watercolors and watch them have even more fun! This is a good time to talk about knowing when to stop. Some kids just can't help themselves and will add sooo much color AND splatters. This is age appropriate, and in my opinion if you let them do this now it will help them learn, explore and eventually move past this stage. This is process art. Remind them not to go over their colors too much or they will make a hole in the paper.
On a side note I almost never give my students black paint. For this project we used cake tempera and I only gave them the primaries. This helps them learn how to mix colors! If you give the little kids black paint they will often times cover their entire painting with it, so don't give them the black paint, problem solved!
As they add their colors they will yell out all the new colors they are making. This is such a fun and exciting project for 1st graders and totally age appropriate! You will be amazed at how easily they draw the pipes! My students drawings were way more creative than my example!! Have fun!