While looking through the library one afternoon, I stumbled across Kevin Henkes’s picture book, Old Bear. The illustrations inspired me to create a combination bear painting and leaf print art lesson for my fourth graders.
We used one 50-minute period to draw and paint the bear and another period to print the leaves. This lesson was a huge hit with the kids.
What you’ll need for the bear:
- Old Bear Board Book
- 12″ x 18″ white sulphite paper
- Brown and black tempera paint
- Black oil pastel
I don’t have any easy way to tell you how to teach children how to draw a bear. I demonstrated two ways: the contour method (drawing the outside line first and then filling in the details) and the shape method (using shapes to identify different parts of the bear). Ultimately, I let the kids chose which method they preferred and gave them some photocopies of the book pages for inspirations.
Using a black oil pastel, the kids went at it, crossing out the lines they didn’t like and moving on with the ones they did. Most kids found it helpful to start with the nose, then put in the eyes and then draw the head around that.
Painting the bear is super easy. Pour some brown liquid tempera paint into a small tub and place a few brushes inside the tub. Instruct the kids to paint a thick layer (this helps with covering mistake lines) over the bear.
With a small brush and black paint, make small fur brush strokes close to the oil pastel line of the bear. It’s really helpful to look at the illustrations from the book.
After the paint dries, cut around the bear, leaving a small amount of white paper showing.
To make the leaf background, you’ll need:
- 12″ x 18″ black paper
- Fresh leaves snipped from trees
- White, orange, gold and bronze tempera paint
- Smooth, flat brushes
- Scratch paper
I place a variety of leaves found around the school yard on each table. Start by painting the underbelly (the vein side) of the leaf with white paint. Then, place the leaf, paint side down onto the sheet of black paper. Place a piece of scratch paper over the leaf and rub gently. Sometimes it’s helpful to press down as well. Carefully peel away the scratch paper and leaf to reveal the white painted leaf print.
It’s okay to use the same leaf more than once. Now that the leaf has a white base coat, paint some color on top of the white paint and press onto the black paper. The creaminess of the white combined with an orange works really well on the black paper. Just using orange for instance, doesn’t produce as pleasing of a result. Continue to make leaf prints on the entire paper especially around the edges.
It’s fun to use the back end of a brush dipped in white paint to create snowflakes. Some children painted snow and others, stems for their leaves.
Glue the bear onto the leaf printed paper and enjoy! I love this art…so beautiful. My fourth graders were very impressed with themselves!
Fantastic Fourth Grade Bears…