Marshall kindergarteners create art with Fox in a Meadow project

These hardworking students did a lot of hands-on learning including fun skill building in reading, math, and art. In back from left are Mariah Andrew, Colton Fitka, and Ellora Morgan. In front are Kari Fitka and Anastasia Isaac. photo by Misty Circle

by Misty Circle

I like doing lots of hands-on, standards based projects with my kindies, it gives them the confidence to experiment and to try new things, to problem solve, and to be innovative. These are all skills that help make them independent when it comes to completing assignments on their own, and help set them up for success when they get older.

This particular assignment was created over the space of 10 days, and both reinforced skills we were working on, and introduced new skills. We started with F, our letter of the week. The students voted to use fox as our F sound.

We read about foxes in literature, poetry, and informational text, looked at pictures and videos on-line, learned how to draw a fox, and how to spell the word “fox”.

As part of both our math and reading curriculum we were learning about basic shapes (triangle, squares, circles, etc.), and colors.

I found a painting online that used circles to make an impressionistic field of flowers that I thought would combine well with a fox motif, and that could be used to incorporate a study of colors and some basic shapes.

We reread some of our favorite Eric Carle books (Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See, and The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and discussed how Carle had use a paper collage technique to create the illustrations. I found a simple fox design and broke it down into pieces the students could cut out and assemble.

The students practiced mixing red, yellow, and brown paint to create paper for their foxes. I helped them trace the templates and they cut out the pieces. (In the interest of time I cut the face pieces out and they assembled them).

I cut a background silhouette for the fox and the students added the pieces, one layer at a time. They cut the triangles for the ears and nose themselves, either freehand, or by tracing the triangle blocks in our math manipulatives. They knew what the final product needed to look like and followed the directions step-by-step to make their foxes. This was a teacher directed, following direction exercise with visual models.

We used acrylic paint to make the meadow, which allowed the students to layer the paint over the course of four days. We started out studying the color wheel and talking about mixing the primary colors to create the other colors. They used red, yellow, and blue to make their rainbow backgrounds.

The next day they practiced making circles by picking up paint and swirling their brushes. The third day they added detail and more color to the circles. On the last day they painted on black stems.  This part of the assignment was much freer, with a lot more room for creativity and individuality (within the confines of the project guidelines).

When everything was dry we hot glued the foxes to the background to create our Fox in a Meadow pictures.

This assignment met several math, reading, and art objectives and goals for Alaskan kindergarteners. It showed the students how to combine different pieces to create a much larger project. We followed this lesson with a week-long lesson on owls and bats, that culminated in project that used word webs, Venn Diagrams, story maps, summarizing skills, studies of informational text and fantasy.

The students combined these to write a list of interesting facts about bats, a fictional story about bats, and a report on owls. You can see how the art lesson used the same skill of creating one piece of a project at a time, and then combining the pieces to make something much more comprehensive.

Misty Circle is the kindergarten teacher in Marshall, Alaska.