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Waterfront Houses Art Lesson


Waterfront Houses Art Lesson

Last summer, I purchased the book Ship-Shapes by Stella Blackstone and illustrated by Siobhan Bell. The  fabric art provided just the inspiration I needed for a shape-based lesson for my kinder kids.

Shapes and color plus cutting and pasting are a perfect match for the kindergarten curriculum. Instead of reading the story (which in my opinion is not a strong read-aloud book for a class setting…the narrator encourages the children to count and identify out small shapes and objects which is best suited for up close read)

I pointed out different shapes (the large ones) and asked the children to identify them. They did well! Triangles, rectangles and squares are the stars of this lesson.

Each page in this book is a potential art lesson. I did different ones with each of my four kinder classes and some will be featured in an upcoming Art Booklet that will be available for purchase later this month. But the one featured today was quite successful and fun for the kids.

I adapted this lesson from one that appeared on a favorite art lesson site, Kid’s Artists. The post City Waterfront has been in my to-do file since last year. While planning my kinder unit, I knew I found a perfect home for this unique lesson. While I chose to do this lesson with my kinders, it might be more suited to a first or second grade class. This lesson required 2, 40-minute sessions. Majority completed project within this time frame.

Supplies you’ll need:

12″ x 18″ White Paper (regular sulphite drawing paper)
Oil Pastels
Colored Paper (cut into squares and rectangles)
Pans of watercolor paint

On the white paper, draw 2 horizontal lines. Below these lines, draw ripples for water.

Color in “Wharf” and begin gluing down squares and rectangles along wharf. Add triangle and trapezoid shapes for the roofs. Use small scraps of colored paper for windows and doors. Use oil pastels for details. Final step is to paint matching rectangles and squares below each house.  Fill in white areas with blue paint.


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  1. Love them! I too have been waiting to do this project too. I love the book that you used too! 🙂


    January 23, 2011

    • I bet you could come up with some fabulous lessons from this book. You constantly inspire me!


      January 24, 2011

  2. Thanks for mentioning my site in your post. Your kindergartners did a great job here. I did the lesson in grade 5, and some of my students thought it was a really hard job!


    February 19, 2011

  3. Reflections and Round Trip are two cool books by Ann Jonas that would be neat to share with this lesson. I cannot wait to get back to school to do this lesson. Thanks for all of the great ideas!


    August 6, 2011

    • Great! I’ll check these out. Thanks for the tip!


      August 11, 2011

  4. Do you cut the rectangles and squares for your kindergardners? I saw a paper plate with them in it, and I know that my kids often balk at cutting out shapes themselves.


    September 1, 2011

    • Mostly. I use scrap paper for this project, so I have many pieces that are cut into rectangles and squares. And it really helps to have squares on hand to show how to cut on the diagonal to create a triangle.


      September 1, 2011

    • Cool! Thanks for the link!


      October 29, 2011

  5. Thank you for this awesome idea. We are a classroom of five and six year olds and we loved creating these artworks. Our teacher will put some photos on our class blog soon. We look forward to trying some of your other ideas.
    Here are some of our comments:
    The colours of the houses are really bright. – Lachlan
    They look fantastic – Eva
    I enjoyed the painting the most – Sam
    I liked sticking thing on and cutting things out – Sophie
    I liked using the oil pastels – Megan
    I really liked doing the painting – Chloe

    GO Reception Learning Stars

    October 10, 2012

    • Awwww….how great! So glad you had fun with this project! I love it and it teaches so much, doesn’t it?


      October 11, 2012

  6. Hi! I am thinking about trying out this project and was wondering where you get your watercolor paints from?


    September 8, 2013

    • Hi Carol,
      I buy most of my supplies from Blick Art Supplies but you can purchase from Saxs/School Specialty or even Nasco. Michael’s Craft stores also have a good selection of watercolor paints.

      Patty Palmer

      September 8, 2013

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