Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Snowball Tree Paintings

Those darling 2nd graders won another behavior incentive, so it was time to create a fun winter project for them!  After seeing some cool winter art on Christmas cards, I decided we needed to make “Snowball Trees!”  To give the kids something to hook into, I wrote a little poem to go with it.  


On dark winter nights
when its frosty and cold, 
there grows a special tree
full of magic and soul.

With branches that stretch out
like the fingers on your hand, 
and snowballs hanging like ornaments,
tall and proud it stands.

This special tree
can only be seen
by those who’ve reached out
to others in need.

For there’s magic in helping others,
that much we know is true.
When we help someone else,
it helps us, too.

So during this season
be as helpful as can be, 
and maybe, just maybe,
you’ll see the Snowball Tree.

Nancy Baack, 2013

We started with 9 x 12 construction paper in blue, red or green (their choice.)  We used the directions within the poem to give us a hint as to the drawing of the tree.  
  1.  Students draw a gently  rolling line  across the  bottom of the  paper  (for  the snowground.)
  2.  Students then draw two  lines that  gradually parallel  halfway up  the page  for  the roots and  trunk.
  3. I asked students to spread  the fingers of their hand and  look at the shape their hand  makes.  They then  continued  to look at their hand for  inspiration as they  lightly drew 5  evenly spaced lines  fanning out above the  trunk lines.  
  4.  We then used those lines as a guide and drew around  them to create the main big branches and drew smaller  limbs branching off of those.  Everyone had their own  style for this (my favorite part of any project!)
  5.  Students color tree trunk and branches.  We used  markers because I only had one class time with these  kids and we wanted to paint right away, but you could  always use paint and break it into more class times.

After their trees were drawn, it was time to get out the paint!  As an art teacher who is most comfortable with high school students and their independence, these little ones can be a bit of a challenge to me.  I try to think through how everything is going to work for them, but you just never know how its going to play out!

We started by painting the snow on the ground in sweeping smooth brushstrokes.  I had a bunch of “almost dead” Crayola markers that worked perfectly as “snowball” stampers (the bottoms are smooth, so that’s the end we used.)  Once the ground was painted, they started stamping.  I left the amount of snowballs up to them.  We used a paper plate of white tempera paint in the middle of each table, which worked perfectly.  

I  had originally thought I would let the kids splatter paint some “snowflakes” with a toothbrush dipped into the  white paint.  It sprays beautifully if you drag your finger over the painty bristles.  BUT...when I practiced, I decided we could be asking for a large mess because its a little hard to control, so I did a little splatter snow for each student when they were done painting.

The final touches were three sparkly star stickers for each piece.  We talked a little bit about using the Art word “balance” and trying to spread the stars out in different places throughout the tree.  

Overall, everything went smoothly and the kids had a good time.  Whew!  God bless those sweet second graders...I just love their enthusiasm!

(**Note:  The first photo at the top of this post is my example and I added some strings of red dots as tree decoration.  We decided we didn't really need them - but that would be another option if you wanted to add more to it. I also used a pop bottle lid for the snowball stamps instead of the markers bottoms. The marker bottoms worked better!)

From the weather around the country, this project sounds like it might be quite appropriate right now!  Happy Snow!