I vowed to begin the year with a unit on teaching color theory. It means breaking out the paints when it’d be alot easier sticking to paper and markers but what the heck, I have a sink. By second grade, most kids know the primary colors and many know the secondary colors. This lesson reinforces the idea that color combinations are infinite and just darn fun to make!
- 12″ x 18″ White Paper
- Black waterproof marker
- Palette of red, yellow and blue (for each child…I know, lots of prep!)
- Paint brush and water containers
DRAWING THE FISH:
I make oval templates for the children. You don’t have to of course, but it speeds up the lesson when all anyone wants to get to is the painting! I ask the students to trace 3 big templates and three little templates. Add tails, fins, eyes, etc. But no designs…yet!
Painting the Primary Colors
Pass out a paper plate or tray with yellow, red and blue tempera paint. One for each student. Ask the children to paint one big fish yellow, one big fish red and another big fish blue. Demonstrate the importance of cleaning their brush.
Now for the mixing. Take a tiny scoop of yellow and a tiny scoop of red and mix on the palette. Once they’ve created their orange, have them paint it on a baby fish. Do the same for blue+yellow=green and red+blue=purple.
It’s really common for some things to happen:
1. A child will trace more big fish than small fish.
2. A child will paint more than one fish yellow because the paint feels real good and he just can’t help himself.
3. The child can’t resist mixing all the colors together.
4. The child gets busy mixing all the colors and makes beautiful designs on his fish (yay!)
For all of these problems, forget it. Don’t correct or point out a problem. The lesson is in the discovery!
Adding Value: Painting the Sea
After all the fish have been painted, it’s time to bring out a tray of white paint and blue. You can put these in a well-type palette so that the kids can share. Mix blue and white directly onto the paper. Kids LOVE this part…some areas are light, some dark. It’s totally within their control.
Outlining and Defining
For the final step, set out small tubs of black tempera paint and small teeny-tiny brushes. Paint over all marker lines. Add details to fish if desired. If the painting is dry, a less messy option to finishing the project is to use a black oil pastel. It’s just as effective.
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