Not so scary Scarecrows: Scarecrow Watercolor and Collage
This two-part lesson for first graders is one of my favorite fall art lessons. I love the collage aspect of this project as it teaches many skills: oil pastel resist, applying watercolor wash, cutting and pasting plus composition. It requires at least three, 40 minute classes or 2 one-hour classes.
12″ x 18″ watercolor paper
Palettes of liquid watercolors (blues, yellow, green, orange and brown)
Oil Pastels (white, green, black and brown)
Assorted small buttons
raffia or yellow paper for “straw”
pencil, scissors and glue stick
Painting the background
The first phase involves oil pastels and watercolor paint. I prefer to use liquid watercolors for this project, rather than watercolor cakes, as the results are pure, not muddy. If you aren’t convinced, check out my post on liquid watercolor paints. After looking at pictures of fields and farmland, the kids are instructed to draw a few lines in oil pastel. We start with a rolling horizon line, add a few vertical lines for the fields and wavy, horizontal lines to break the large fields up. The kids use a white or yellow oil pastel to draw the sun and white oil pastel to draw and color in clouds.
The students paint the sky blue and watch the clouds appear like magic. Green, orange, brown and yellow watercolors are used to paint their fields. Some children will use the green oil pastel to add crops in the fields (but trythfully, I don’t have many first graders who get to that point!) Set aside to dry.
Making the Scarecrow
An easy way to make the scarecrow is to use templates. They’re easy to make and reduce the level of frustration most kids experience when trying to cut out a pair of pants. I make simple shirts and pants from cardstock and set the tray of the templates on each table. The children use the templates to trace onto craft paper and then add patches, buttons and raffia.
Making and assembling the scarecrow takes a little time but one time saver is to help the children tape (instead of gluing) the scarecrow to their Popsicle sticks. Of course, many children will glue it themsleves, but if you have extra adults in the class, put them to work!
Adding raffia underneath the pants and shirts is an adorable way to spice up the little scarecrow, but if you don’t have it or run out like I did in this particular class, then you can use yellow paper.