Fall Leaves

I’ve never been much of an artist.  We have no formal art program or art curriculum in my district.  We do not have art teachers/specialists who teach art to our classes each week.  We don’t even have art docents, like I know some districts do.  It’s all up to me.  It’s my job to figure out what my kids need to know, do, and understand when it comes to art.  That’s a pretty big task, when you consider my opening sentence in this blog post.  Even though I’m artistically challenged, I think I’ve done a pretty good job providing kindergarten students with the art experiences they need over the years.  I have several lessons in place that hit the different areas I want to cover.  Generally, the projects turn out pretty well and they are pretty enough to display.  This year, I’ve had an extra challenge.  I moved from kindergarten to first grade this year and the kids in my class have already done my “go to” projects.  I knew I needed help!
My teacher-friend, Angela, introduced me to my new friend Patty.  Patty is an art teacher at an elementary school somewhere far-far-away.  (I say that because I have no idea which state she’s in, but I know it couldn’t possibly be mine because I don’t think any of our schools have art teachers.)  Anyway, Patty is brilliant!  She writes a blog all about the different lessons she teaches with her students.  She walks teachers and parents through the process, explaining the whats and whys of her projects.  It has been the perfect place for helping little-old-art-challenged-me figure out a few great lessons with my students who have already experienced all of the tricks I had up my sleeve. 
Last week we followed Patty’s lesson plan for leaf stamping.  I made a few changes, like using brown paper instead of her suggested black paper, and stamping the leaves with gold paint instead of white paint.  Trust me when I say those weren’t artistic decisions, just instinct decisions.  Using sparkly gold paint is as much of a no-brainer as adding glitter to anything.  
We started by reading several Fall books and books about leaves.  We went on a mini-leaf hunt and then got ready to paint.  Here’s the link to the website, if you’re looking for full directions.
The kids did a great job with this project!  I can’t imagine doing this same project with kindergarten students.  First graders are SO much more mature!
(Side story:  One of my kindergarten-teacher-friends was feeling very envious that I don’t have kids wiping boogers on my skirt this year… because that’s what her little kindergarten friends were doing on her skirt.  Lovely.  Yes, I’ve escaped, even it’s only for a year!)

Between all of the fall colors, using actual leaves for the stamping, glittery gold paint, mixing our own fall colors, and an afternoon of fun, I’d say this project was a huge hit!  Oh, and I’m really glad I had a parent volunteer in the room to help with the chaos of paint clean up when it was all over!
Happy painting!

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