Since I was scheduled to go in around St. Patrick’s day, I wanted to do something with the color green…so as things go, one thing led to another, and I ended up combining many things I’ve done before with my students into something new and fun for her school and in the end, never even tied it to St. Patrick’s Day (oh well!). Instead, we made a very long, Eric Carle-style, hungry caterpillar…
The big thing I always do when I work with young children is to be VERY (OVER) prepared. Usually, time is very limited, and I like to minimize the time spent dealing with supplies and giving things out. So I always “set the table” for my little kids. In this situation, I had round tables to work with, so I taped 12″ x 18″ pieces of paper to each spot and put a little piece of paper towel at each place for their fingers. I then put a tray in the middle with toothbrushes, plastic forks, and plastic cups (pictured on left). You can see the kids in action on the right.
I have also done this by putting large pieces of white paper all over rectangle tables and letting the kids work all over the paper, and cut it up when it’s dry. This is especially fun for little kids so they can move their entire arm when they work.
On this day, the focus was on mixing colors to make green using toothbrushes, plastic forks, and plastic cups. In the past, I’ve also used sponges, plastic knives, plastic Easter eggs, plastic combs, thread spools…you name it! I keep everything in a box called “textured paper.” We used tempera paint so it would wash out of clothes. I went around (non-stop) with bottles of paint, squirting colors on the papers. I started with yellow, then blue, then white (to make lighter shades of green), then a very bright green (already mixed), and lastly, some glittery green paint.
When I add new colors to their paper, I can control how much they get, for example, you need more yellow than blue to get a nice green. Also, if kids are working in just one area on their paper, I’ll put the new color off in a white area, so they have to go get it and mix it in. This really helps to get them to cover as much of the paper as possible.
Kids of all ages love to make this kind of textured paper. I made a video for one of my FREE Valentine’s Day lessons that you can view HERE on YouTube. The colors are different, but the process and techniques are the same!
If you’d like the Valentine’s Day lesson that goes with this video, you can head on over to my store HERE and pin it for next year!
After the paper was made, I read the kids The Very Hungry Caterpillar book by Eric Carle, and we talked about how Eric Carle is an “artist,” and we looked at all the textures and colors mixed together on the pages of his book.
After the paint was dry, I cut each one into a large oval for the caterpillar’s body. Then using various construction papers (red, blue, yellow, green, and brown), I created the head and feet of the caterpillar.
Next came another fun part–my daughter and I went by the school one day, and we installed this big….looooooooong caterpillar in the preschool hallway. My little darling was a big helper and was proud of her friends for doing such a good job!
There are so many things you can make with textured paper, but don’t feel like you HAVE to make anything. The process of making it is fun enough for kids. Kids love the experience of getting to mix paint and use non-traditional tools to make texture.
It’s fun for kids to do a collaboration project like this that they can be proud of when they see it. It’s also a great conversation starter for the parents as they drop off or pick up their child from school.
This lesson stands on its own as a great way to integrate science and literature into your curriculum. If you are studying caterpillars, this would be a fantastic way to involve the kids and make a lasting impression. Also, to take it a step further, you could involve many classes in the school, and some could do the caterpillar, some a cocoon, and some a large butterfly–wouldn’t that be beautiful?!
Thanks for reading and for making art with your kids!