Tag Archives: tempera

Plant Plaques



The first grade students were studying plants and flowers so this was a project designed with that in mind. All of my classes did clay this year using Mexal Air Dry Clay made by Laguna Clay Company. Without a kiln, this is a good alternative.

Students were given a blob of clay and then instructed to flatten it and cut a rectangular or square shape to create a flat surface that they could press found objects into or draw onto to create flower images.

Once the plaques were dry, the students used Jazz Gloss Tempera to paint them. I did not seal them but that certainly could and probably should be done to preserve them even further.




The Grade Three team shared their curriculum map with me which makes my job oh so easy! I knew whales would be part of their curriculum for November and December.


I found some beautiful images on Etsy that I loved. Enormous whales, a lot of ocean and tiny ships or boats. The work is by Rachel Blyer of the Colorful Cat Studio. Her work is done in watercolor.


For this lesson, I had my students create these in a mixed media format. We did these in just under an hour.

They started by drawing the image of their boat and sky. Then they did some scrubby paint with a cardboard scrap and some “ocean” colors which I tossed in some blue glitter glue for fun. They used pre-painted gray paper for the whales. I put out lots of images of whales for them to use as reference. I think they came out pretty amazing.



Sail Boat Collage



My K/1 Combo class did this lesson. They painted the background first doing the sky white then adding blue, they then painted the ocean with blue, green, and white. We did not rinse between colors so that was one less clean up step. I had them wipe their brushes on scrap paper or their placemats.


While that was drying, I showed them our “magic square” trick. A square can be cut into 2 triangles or 2 rectangles.


They then made boats with the squares of painted paper. I often use my old demo lessons chopped up for things like this. I also have some art room helpers who will take the paint leftovers from a paint day and paint on “oops” papers.


That paper is made by my upper grade student helpers. While I am pretty conservative in pouring paint, there is always a bit of leftover paint on the supply plates and it is a good way to use that up. (Reduce, reuse recycle: it’s good for the budget)


They then cut and assembled the boats however they wanted to.


Kindergarten Cupcakes



We did a lot of Still Life images this month.For Kindergarten, we did cupcakes. I use Staonal marking crayons for K’s instead of sharpies.


Staonal chunky black crayons are great for little hands and of course, hold up far better than a sharpie when used on a wet painting.


I demoed how to draw cupcakes and  the different types of frosting tops. Then they chose to draw and paint one or more.


I like to show my youngest students how to draw something but leave up the composition and images up to them. For me, this allows them to learn how to draw while giving them the freedom to create an image as they see it.


I feel that this approach allows more creativity. I always tell them that they can follow along and draw what I draw or watch me first and then create their own.


Ice Fishing Cabins


I saw an art piece from a school in Wisconsin and thought it would be a fun lesson to do with my third grade students. That blog post is here: Artistic Freedom

We did it a little differently because we only have one hour for lessons and I do not store art because I teach 700+ students over a 6 day period.

Students did a quick paint of the background using watered down tempera for the blue and black watercolor for the night sky. they could add stars or water lines if they chose to.


They created the fish, huts, and any additional items using scrap construction paper. Our staff work room has a huge box for art scraps. Teachers put the end bits from the die cut machine or off prints from the riso as well as other things that could be used for art. That bin gives us loads of paper scraps for projects like this. 44348754.jpg

I love how this student made a school of fish and a treasure chest. Super creative!44306355.jpg

Look at that big fat worm on the fish hook and all the plants on the bottom of the lake!

Winter Trees



I have seen many variations on winter trees and this is what I did with grade 4.

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I demo’ed how to create different backgrounds-gradated colors, blended colors, tints and shades.


They painted a background of their choice in tempera. Once they were finished, I demo’ed different types of winter trees.


Then they added trees to their backgrounds. 

Reflective Architecture



This month is Archtober and our city celebrates architecture through various activities at local venues. I wanted to bring that idea into the classroom so we did this lesson.


For this lesson third grade students created sky and water backgrounds using watered down tempera. They then drew buildings into presto foam and created a print. When the print was done, they folded the paper to create a ghost print.




Ships in a Stormy Sea


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The Getty recently had a JMW Turner exhibition with all his amazing images of ships. This lesson was inspired by Turner and our upcoming trip to the Timken Museum in Balboa Park.


Students looked at a few ship paintings from the Timken Collection which included American Ship in Distress by Thomas Birch and A Seaport at Sunset by Claude-Joseph Vernet.

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These images were created in oil pastel and tempera.