In the beginning lessons, we taught the students about color symbolism and color associations/moods. In conjunction with the color lessons, the students read and discussed several of the color poems from the book Hailstones and Halibut Bones by Mary O’Neill. Then the fourth graders began to experiment with color by creating two value scales using different media. For the first scale, they colored with ebony pencils and learned how to create dark, medium and light values all dependent on how lightly or hard they pressed their pencil while drawing. Next the students painted the second value using watercolor. They learned how to add more and less water in order to achieve the differences in the light and dark values of the color they chose.
Students painting a monochromatic value scale using tempera.
Value Scale rules
Student painting a green value scale
The students transitioned from painting watercolor values scales to painting a monochromatic watercolor landscape. Using tracing paper and carbon paper, the students first traced photocopies of famous landscapes and then transferred the images onto watercolor paper. Using a monochromatic color palette and neutral colors, the students painted the landscape in watercolor paints and then for emphasis, they outlined portions of landscapes with crayon.
Student using watercolor pencils to draw and fill in the landscape.
Student coloring in the landscape with watercolor pencils.
4th graders watercolor landscape
For final project the students wrote a color poem based on one color. They used their poems to create a small accordion book in which each line of the poem is represented by a symbol drawing. The intent was also to have the lines of the poems intermingle with the symbol drawing rather than be at the bottom of the page.
Sketching images for each line of the student's poem.
Student showing the inside pages of her book about her color poem
Color poetry books