Eric Carle Inspired Barns and Farms

Eric Carle is one of my favorite illustrators. Over the years, I have used many of his books as inspirations for art lessons. These instructions are basic, using templates and pre-painted paper.

Making Painted Paper

I set out 3-4 pots of pre-mixed tempera paint per table. When I say pre-mixed, I mean I create the colors. Don’t just use red. Make a red-orange. Don’t just use blue. Make a turquoise. Get creative!

Tip: add white to the paint to make the color pop.

Think about what picture the kids will be creating and mix up paints for that purpose. For this project, I mixed up earth tones, barn colors, sky colors, etc. For a 20 kid class, I use four to five tables. This means 12-20 pots of mixed paint. I know…that’s a lot of paint!

Place a variety of texture tools on each table. This can be plastic forks, round sponges or even the store-bought texture makers (rollers, etc.) If you have nothing available, use the tip of a paint brush for texture.

Instruct the kids to apply ONE color of paint on a white piece of paper. Paint the edges and encourage the kids to go off the edges of the paper. This will make the tables messy, but that’s okay, right?

Next, show the kids how to make squiggles, dots, splatters, etc with other paints. Encourage the kids to create patterns and not blend in the colors so much that they turn to a muddy mess. This takes finesse on the teacher’s part!

I allow the kids to do at least 3 papers. That means about 50 pieces of beautiful Eric Carle inspired paper to dry. Make sure you have drying racks available.

Tracing Templates

Before the kids come to class, I cut the pre-painted 12″ x 18″ papers in half. I fan them out on a big table for the whole class to use. There are only a few kids who search for the papers they made. Most enjoy the fact that all the papers were created by the entire class.

For my Eric Carle projects, I always provide a template. In this case, it is a series of different cardboard squares and triangles. The kids can use these to trace their barns. It makes the project far more identifiable than if you had the children create their own barn.

Having said that, I do allow the kids to free cut rolling hills (we talk about placement here), sun, clouds, flowers and animals. As the children work on their cutting, I rotate around the tables and show them how to make flowers or a pig or a fence.

Adding details

On the last day, details are created. Some kids will still have plenty of work to do, others will work on fine details. For the Barns and Farms, I show the kids how to make “boards” on their barns using a black marker. We add nail holes, etc. The kids have the option of outlining their fields as well. Adding crops, grooves, plants, etc.


Download this free lesson guide on our Chicken Little template for more art lesson inspiration!

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