Tuesday, July 31, 2012

1st Grade Art History Inspired Trees

For one of their last projects of the school year, my 1st graders made Art History inspired trees! The first half of the first class was spent viewing and discussing a PowerPoint I put together with an assortment of works from Art History depicting trees. I wanted to show a variety of trees for several reasons- I didn't want the students to feel like they should copy a famous painting and I think the students need to see that Art doesn't have to be totally realistic to be "good". When I set about making a presentation, I realized I could only think of a handful of paintings with trees in them. Then my world was changed when I discovered WikiPaintings.org. WikiPaintings allows you to search by artist or keyword. I searched for "tree" and got more results than I could possibly have shown. I went through and selected several. 

I don't think my presentation was chronologically organized, I'm pretty sure I just added slides in the order that I found them. I've embedded the document below so you can have a starting point if you want to make your own PPT.
I told the students they would be making trees but that the style and type of tree was totally up to them. Then there was an added challenge- the students were not allowed to use a paintbrush! I gave students the option of drawing their trees in black tempera paint using a popsicle stick or a twig. They were pretty excited about this! I did have a couple papers end up totally black, but I suppose that could have happened in 1st grade even with paintbrushes.
 In the second class period when the papers were good and dry, the students added color with crayon and tempera. They started with crayon- maybe rolling a crayon for sky and grass or adding more branches, then they were still not allowed to use paintbrushes for the tempera paint. Instead of a paintbrush, the students could use just one finger. Most did a really good job and probably got less messy when they were allowed to use one finger than when they paint normally. They were trying to be really careful.
Take a look at some of our very varied results below!


  1. How wonderful! I love these trees. That is a great PPT also. Thanks for sharing.

  2. What a great lesson! I love the idea of making them paint with a stick! They came out great! :)