I came across this great art lesson (and website) and I tried it today with my first graders. Their paintings are fantastic! I was super impressed with the results and even submitted one of my student's work for display at the public library.

I started off by reading Leon the Chameleon by Melanie Watt. I also showed them pictures of the chameleons from The Mixed-Up Chameleon by Eric Carle and A Colour of His Own by Leo Lionni. I could have read any of these books to get us started, but liked the story from Leon the Chameleon best for my group.

After reading the story, I had them go back to their desks and handed out paper and black oil pastels. Before starting, we looked at the chameleons on the covers of each book and talked about the different parts of the creature. Then I led them with a teacher-directed drawing of a chameleon on the board - start with a triangular head, then a long, rounded body, curly tail, and four legs. I left it open if they wanted to draw more than one, or which way the tail went, and so forth. I then instructed them to fill in their chameleon with various lines (the element of line is our focus for this month) and add a background design (sun, ground, trees, etc).
Once everyone was finished with their designs, we used watercolours to fill in their drawings with lots of colour! The oil pastels resist the paint, so the lines still stand out when they are finished. They turned out wonderfully!

On a side note, when it comes to cleaning up, I need to put some sort of routine or system in place because: paint + my first graders = chaos! Unfortunately I don't have a sink in the room, or an easily accessible bathroom nearby, so it makes it a little tricky to wash up. Perhaps a bucket of clean water, sponges (for the desks), and lots of paper towels will come in handy next time around!


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