Next in my series of back-to-school art lessons: Third Grade. Pick any lesson in my side bar repertoire (K-6) and most third graders will embrace it. They can do anything artistically. Often I have combo classes and teach second and fourth grade lessons to third grade students. They can't tell the difference and they shouldn't: my art lessons are adaptable for any grade. But, here are my personal favorite that seem to suit third graders well...
My Hot Air Balloon Drawing is a great way to start off the year. It's fun, colorful, doesn't require much in the way of supplies and like line drawings, requires a bit of listening and develops fine motor skills. Now, you can get a bit technical with this one, but I'd recommend loosening up a bit. It's just a balloon for Pete's sake. I say this because my instructions for this lesson focus on the technical aspect of drawing a hot air balloon, but go ahead and adapt it to suit your needs.
Time: 2 50-minute sessions
Supplies: 12" x 18" white paper, broad tip markers, pencils and erasers, cardboard template.
I've tried many of the classic "Masters" lessons (Starry Night, Monet, etc) but Van Gogh Sunflowers is my favorite. The combination of oil pastels and flowers really make this a standout finished piece. This is the art project that parents will frame. But in order to make it the best it can be, encourage the kids to press hard with their oil pastels and for heaven's sake, tell them that oil pastels are suppose to break! This will take the fear out of them.
Time: Really varies. Some kids finish in 2 sessions but some can take up to 4. That's why I do this lesson at the beginning of the year so if a child finishes a project early in a future class, he can pull out the sunflower project and work on it. Be patient. It's worth it.
Supplies: 12" x 15" white paper (cut large paper down a bit) and oil pastels.
LOVE this next lesson: Symmetrical Butterflies. When kids open up the paper to reveal their butterfly, some literally gasp. Seriously. They think it's SO cool. This lesson can be modified to use any number of paint, but I use watercolor (it works fine on this paper). To jazz it up a bit, use liquid watercolor mixed with glitter paint and Mod Podge. Sound familiar? If you guessed that this was the concoction I used for Second Grade's Glitter Fish, you're right! If you're really smart you will save the leftover paint from second grade to do with this project.
Time: 2 50-minute sessions
Supply List: Varies depending on your choice of finishing, but for the standard Butterfly: 12" x 18" white paper, dark colored oil pastel, watercolor paints (cake paints are fine), scissors, glue, colored 12" x 18" white paper.
Remember all the Eric Carle styled paper you made in second grade? Well, this is a good time to pull it out and use it again. Paper Cut Portraits is a dynamic twist on portrait art. Although it can take some time, the results are worth it. Read over the instructions (better yet, download my Fun with Portraits Lesson Plans PDF) and plan your strategy.
This project does require a few specific instructions so the first stage is not a great free expression type of project. The kids will need to first draw a simplified portrait on white paper and although it sounds easy, this is the step that you will need to monitor. The goal: Keep the face simple. After that, it's all fun.
An alternative project keeping with the same technique and theme is...
Abstract Colored Paper Portraits
Time: 3-4 50 minute classes
Supplies: 12" x 18" white paper, 12" x 18" colored or Eric Carle styled paper, Skin tone paper, colored paper for shirt, colored paper for hair, black marker, scissors, glue sticks, scraps of colored paper, decorative details such as buttons, colored markers.
This lesson plan will take you well into the end of October. Don't be alarmed if some of your third grade students have unfinished work. Many of these projects, especially the Sunflower Project and Portrait Project require time. It's common for me to take one day at the end of October just to finish incomplete work. The kids love the chance to catch up and it's a good opportunity to work individually with students.
Good Luck Third Grade Teachers! Tomorrow....Fourth Grade!