When my kindergarten students entered the art room, they were surprised to see balloons sitting on the tables next to the paint. I told them that instead of using a paintbrush to apply paint for this project, we would be using balloons! They were excited, but curious—a great way to start any project!
SESSION 1 (40 MINUTES). I began the lesson by reading them the classic, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle. In this story, a caterpillar eats his way through the pages as we are taken through each day of the week. At the end of the story, he builds himself a cocoon and emerges as a beautiful butterfly, whose wingspan stretches across the last two pages of the book. Wow factor? Accomplished!
To begin their masterpieces, I instructed the students to draw a horizontal line across their paper to separate the ground from the sky. I demonstrated how to use the side of a chalk pastel to apply color to the top part of their paper, and then use a tissue to smudge it across the space and give it better coverage.
As if that wasn’t fun enough, they had the opportunity to choose two or three colors to blend in. They referred to the color wheel to decide which colors would look nice together when blended, and then completed their sky by smudging them together with the tissue.
When they finished their chalk sky, they moved on to finger painting the bottom part of their paper. The inside cover in the book features an arrangement of several colored circles that inspired the design for our ground. The students painted using very powerful tools—their index fingers and some paint! I poured a few colors of tempera on a tray and they used their fingers to stamp many circles with one paint color, then repeated the process with the other colors until most of the white space was filled. To prevent the colors from smearing and getting muddy, I told the students to stamp with only ONE finger, their index finger, and they could wipe it off in between colors. We allowed the projects to dry until the next class session.
SESSION 2 (40 MINUTES). I demonstrated how to create the caterpillar’s body by stamping a balloon in green and yellow paint and gently pressing it onto the paper. It was important to remember to stamp the balloon gently so it didn’t slip and smear across their paper. The students worked on top of their chalk background and stamped away. Some chose to stamp the body in a straight line; others wanted their caterpillars to have a curvy body so it looked like they were moving.
The final step was to create the head and legs. We used red and yellow construction paper for the face, like the iconic critter gracing the cover of the book. They used a marker to draw the eyeballs, mouth, legs and antennae.
This lesson showed the students that there are many ways we can apply color in art. They had the opportunity to use three different processes—smudging chalk, finger painting, and printing with balloons. The transformation of the caterpillar to a butterfly in the story was just as intricate and magical as the process of creating these colorful critters in art class!
Kindergarten students will …
• learn about author/illustrator Eric Carle.
• create a caterpillar inspired by his story The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
• blend colors of chalk.
• create overlapping shapes by finger painting.
• make prints with balloons.
NATIONAL ART STANDARDS
• Creating: Conceiving and developing artistic ideas and work.
• Presenting: Interpreting and sharing artistic work.
• Responding: Understanding and evaluating how the arts convey meaning.
• Connecting: Relating artistic ideas and work with personal meaning and external context.
• Book: The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle (Philomel Books; 1994)
• 12″ x 18″ white paper
• Red and yellow construction paper
• Chalk pastels
• Tissues or paper towels
• Tempera paint
Chrissy Leishear teaches K–8 Art at St. John the Baptist School in Silver Spring, Maryland.
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