A combination project of art and science. After studying the water cycle, we painted watercolor pictures of landscapes that included rivers, mountains, sky, and plants. Clouds and precipitation were added with white and gray acrylic paint after the watercolors were dry. Labels were written with Sharpie pens.
Summer art project. Size is 3 feet across by 4 feet long.
Project time was approximately 6 weeks, working 10-15 minutes per day.
- Bulletin board paper
- Wax paper
- Acrylic paints (red, yellow, blue, black, white)
- Watercolor paints (standard palette)
- Painting tarps, t-shirts, towels, tape, water
- Tape wax paper to wall with painters tape.
- Tape bulletin board paper over wax paper.
(The wax paper prevents any paint from seeping through. If you have a large roll of butchers paper / freezer paper with the waxed backing, that can be used as well).
- Choose a scene and animals.
- Print out images from the internet to find poses and colorations.
- Sketch a background. (In this case, Mom sketched the dock and the horizon line).
- Have kids take turns sketching animals, plants, etc.
I suggest only one child working at a time, unless they are feeling particularly chummy!
- After all sketching is done, paint animals using acrylic paint.
- Have the kids mix all their own colors using only primary colors (blue/red/yellow) with black and white for dark/light tones.
- Paint background objects using acrylic paint.
- Let dry thoroughly..
- Paint water using watered-down watercolors. The watercolor can be washed over everything, so neatness is not needed.
- Waves were added in with acrylics later.
- Small details can be added with paint or even sharpies if needed (we sharpied in the herons’ orange eyes).
20 Ways to Draw…
Find a drawing book to bridge the middle years (ages 9-11).
My littlest kids (ages 5-7) have always enjoyed Ed Emberley’s drawing books. But one by one they would grow out of these books, or simply be ready for something a little more challenging, a little more realistic. I spent years trying to find a good drawing book for ages 9-11, or even a book with simple drawings that weren’t childish. One day I was browsing the book section at Cass Art in London when I found it! A whole series entitled “20 Ways to Draw….” So far we own 20 Ways to Draw a Tree (nature subjects) and 20 Ways to Draw a Cat (animals).
The realistic nature of these drawings makes them a good reference for nature journaling. Use these drawing techniques and ideas to learn more about leaf and tree shapes, bark texture, snowflake crystals, etc.
Magic Potion Station
Create a new experience with the same old baking soda + vinegar science project.
- baking soda
- distilled vinegar
- food coloring
- droppers (I have some left over from infant medicines)
- stirrers (we use toothpicks)
- containers to hold baking soda
- containers to hold vinegar
- containers for mixing
Add food coloring to several different batches of baking soda. A muffin tin is good for separating colors. Add food coloring to a flask or two of distilled (or malt) vinegar. Make sure you have a nice thick tarp or towel under the experiment area. My kids love to make “swirlies” with the different colors.
Add other liquids for experimentation (such as vegetable oil).
Set up an Outside Potion Station.
Mixing & Measuring
Free play with different measuring equipment to learn (1) how liquid measurements are related to each other and (2) the technical parts of accurate measuring. One child of mine is very much into precision. He had a grand time figuring out that 5 mL=1 tsp, 3 tsp=1 Tbsp, 1 Tbsp=15 mL, etc.
We also threw in the Floating Paper Clip Experiment for fun.
- measuring spoons
- small measuring cups (from liquid medicines)
- large measuring cups
- food coloring
- thick towel on the table
- optional (if you have it): chemistry glassware
Add food coloring to the water to make it easier to see. Mix, measure and pour. Add more water to the colored solution when too much gets spilled. We spent about 2% of the time actively discussing measuring points, and 98% of the time gleefully pouring and spilling.
To continue exploration, mix several solutions with different colors and allow color mixing.