Friday, 26 October 2012

Rainforest aka flower painting

Sometimes things just have to be adapted to make them meaningful. We had been reading Polar Bear Polar Bear What Can You Hear (Bill Martin Jr/Eric Carle) when the children got curious about the climates the various animals in the book came from - the rainforest being one of them. The group of children were aged 2-4 so I did not feel that painting a rainforest would be so meaningful - so I scratched my head and came up with painting WITH the rainforest.

I asked my local flower shop if I could have any flowers and leaves that they were going to throw out - and I left the shop with a huge armful of greenery and colours at no cost.

inspiration photos - two of many

many shades of green
After we looked at photographs of the rainforest observing the many shades of green, and that it was mostly green, we entered the atelier and saw the pre-prepared room with a central table with plates of 8 shades of green. The children were free to choose a table or easel to paint at. Another table was set up with a choice of leaves.

room set up
The children were then free to choose a leaf then dip in the green of their choice - the children worked separately on their rainforests  but met up at the foliage table and the paint table - both these tables required negotiations as the children sometimes wanted to dip in the same shade at the same time - but the co-operation between the children was positive as they were so focussed on their rainforest creations.

making leaf prints

 The children used all sorts of techniques with the leaves - printing, smushing, using them like paintbrushes, whipping etc. It was also interesting to see how the children held the leaves - carefully at the end of the stalk so their hands stayed clean or held the entire leaf in their hand some with fingers pointing out...

different methods used

choosing a shade of green and dipping

interesting to see how the children held their leaves

 Once the children were satisfied with creating the green of their rainforest we washed our hands and returned to looking at the photos - during this time the green paints were cleaned away. The children observed only four colours of flowers in the photos that we looked at - pink, red, yellow and orange - so just these four colours were available for the second session of the rainforest painting. This required more co-operation at the dipping table, which lead to more dialogue between the children. Win win situation!

choosing a flower colour to dip in a choice of 3

 The children used various techniques with the flowers - smushing, printing, holding the stalk at the very end, holding at the base of the flower ... the children really experimented. They were all very curious about how the paint

then time to add flowers to the rainforest

 working at the easel 

a finished rainforest

flower printing

various techniques used

a finished rainforest

 When the rainforests had dried I gave them a coat of artmedium to give them a bit of a shine - sometimes I add artmedium to the paint to make it glossy but dislike the fact that is it gets onto clothes it is then hard to wash it out. Even though we painted with the reds and oranges directly onto the wet green the rainforests did not turn brown, which happily surprised me.

The children were extremely pleased with the results of their rainforest painting and talked about painting with flowers for a long time afterwards. I would not hesitate to do this activity again and can recommend it if you you are in the middle of a project about rainforests, plants, spring or anything else that gives you the excuse to paint with flowers....

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