Sunday, December 7, 2014

3rd Grade Robins in the Forest

Last summer this robin . . .
was busy feeding its babies in this nest . . .
in the Bitterroot Forest of Montana.
And thus, our 3rd grade forest project was born.

Day #1:  Students started by viewing photos of the area and discussing what they noticed (light hits the trees on one side, putting shadows on the other side; the base of the trees in the foreground are nearer the bottom of the picture; needles in the lodge pole pines are pretty high up -- not near the ground; there are a lot of branches sticking out from the trunks, the robin has a red chest area and a blackish head, etc.) This was a good opportunity to share some Science info, too!!

First, using sidewalk chalk, students lightly colored the sky and ground area, smearing the chalk with their fingers. Then, using oil pastels, we placed the trees, making some appear farther back in their landscape by making them thinner and starting them nearer to the horizon line.
 Lodge pole pines can be 100' tall, so to make their trees appear tall, students extended all their trunks off the top of the board.
 Some artists were diligent in trying to duplicate the texture of the bark.

 The final step on that first day was to print pine needles using small pieces of cut illustration board and green tempera.

Day #2
On the second day, using crayons, students built up the surface of the forest floor and background of blurry trees by "flicking their wrists" to make the short, needle like overlapping lines.

I did a short demonstration on drawing a robin and then, using a thin black marker (no pencils!!!) kids drew their robin(s), colored it with crayon, cut it out and decided where to place it on their forest-scape.
Most students are getting really proficient at blending their oil pastels to get gradual color change!! Yay!!

I envision displaying these side by side over a large bulletin board to give the feel of the dense forest. When a board becomes available at school I'll do that and share the image with you all. These make me feel like I am back in Montana!!


  1. The texture on the tree trunks is Fantastic! And I like the effect of the printed pine needles. Great work by your artists!

  2. Amazingly beautiful trees. Well done!

  3. Thanks! I am getting anxious to see them all displayed on a big board - should end up looking like the forest!!