Sunday, March 30, 2014

1st Grade Deer in the Forest

I know that birch tree forests have been around for a long time in art classes, but I had never tried them with kids until last week. What fun!!

We don't have such things as birch forests around these parts and we certainly don't have cardinals, so this was a real learning experience.

Kids began with Smartboard images of birch forests and a discussion about foreground, and background. Then they each got a board that was "pre-taped."
We talked about starting to paint the ground high enough on the board so that the shortest tree trunks weren't left "floating." Students painted a clear water wash first and then added their ground colors (choosing their season). Then they did the same with the sky color. By then the ground color had dried a bit and kids added their cast shadows of the trunks. I demonstrated how to lay the brush flat on the board and apply some pressure as they painted the diagonal lines.

Next they peeled off the tape and used a small piece of illustration board and black liquid tempera to scrape black onto the trunks.
For some classes, this was as far as we got. I especially loved how kids approached putting on the black in different ways.

 LOVE the movement and repetition this little guy got going!!

Some classes had more time, so they added some animals to their forests. This was a more directed lesson. I began showing the kids a photo of a doe in the forest and drew the shapes I saw on the animal using a piece of acetate over the deer.

Then I moved the photo away so they could see just the drawn shapes on the acetate. Next,  we drew the deer step by step.

Students had the choice of where to place the deer in their forest. I showed them how they could cut the deer up the middle and glue each half on either side of a tree to give the impression that the deer was walking behind a tree. For some kids, this was a real revelation!! After these went on display in the hallway, I also had a few adults stop me to ask how the kids had done this!!

 I must say, I was a bit nervous about trying this directed drawing lesson with first graders, but they all got the hang of it. I would definitely do it again!


  1. I like the addition of the deer peaking out from the trees! Birch trees are always a fun process for the kids.

  2. Thanks, Mary. I think I'll spend a bit more time next yea teaching how to draw animals. Kids seem to love it!!