Tuesday, March 12, 2013

making trees.

This kinder project was inspired by an image by illustrator Jamey Christoph. I recently did a project based on his work with the 2nd graders and thought another of his pieces would be an interesting mixed media project for my youngest students.

This image provides a clear cut introduction to the different parts of a tree. Trunk, branches, and leaves. Fruit too, but the classes weren't able to get to that last piece in the hour we had together.

When I shared this picture with  my classes we identified the parts of the trees, the different light and dark colors we saw, and how the background color got lighter as it went down the paper.

The students focused on these aspects in the lesson. Plus, they got some practice cutting, gluing, and pattern making.

I started the hands on part of the lesson with a demo on how to make a color lighter by adding more water to it. This part of the project was pretty mellow. Calm kids going back and forth, back and forth with their brushes to fill the space. When finished, students put their papers at the back of their table to dry.

Then we focused on making leaves, trunks, and branches. Students made straight cuts to make trunks and branches out of two pieces of different value brown paper. They also cut leaves out of different color value green sheets. To make the leaves, students folded the paper before drawing and cutting, so that they would cut out two shapes at once.

Students then added patterns to their leaves with crayola color sticks.

Once they had finished pattern making, they got their painted backgrounds from the back of their tables, so that they could glue the different parts together.

Before students glued on the parts, I asked them to place the pieces on the background where they wanted them to go. I told them the trunks should touch the bottom of the paper. I modeled how to cut or tear smaller pieces of brown to make branches. Once they had a plan, they were allowed to glue. Then, they could place and glue the leaves where they wanted to see them on their trees. I emphasized that they could overlap leaves and trees to make parts look they were in front of others.

I gotta say, I really like the way these turned out. Interesting choices and arrangements all around the kinder classes.

I put a few of them together. Kinda cool to think of them as a longer panorama:)

A funny note- as students were putting these together the abstractions of Franz Kline came to mind. Something about the diagonals, use of thick and thin, and the contrast of dark and light. I was kind of obsessed with the guy's paintings in undergrad, so it was interesting to have that flashback with the little ones:)


  1. These are SO cool and fresh Don! Look at these thick and thin shapes, dividing up the composition in intriguing ways. Yes! Very much like Kline's bold brush strokes. I'm just so blown away with these! You guys have approached something so complex in nature, intertwining tree branches and leaves, and stylized them into such strong shapes and design. Most importantly, I can tell you guys had fun creating these beautiful scenes. I wish I could've seen it. Amazing work guys!