When I was thinking about a watercolor lesson for my middle school students, I knew I wanted to change it up. I had a couple of my students ask if we could paint landscapes, and I loved that idea! I just wanted to take it a step further.
As someone who loves to road trip, adventure, and hike, and a huge National Parks nerd, I decided that American’s beautiful National Parks were going to be our inspiration for our next project!
I was fortunate enough to get these amazing color photos printed for me!
I gave my students a basic knowledge of what the National Parks were, the history of them, etc. I let students who participated and listened the most during this choose their photos first, which made them all very attentive and listen well!
Now before we did this, we also did some watercolor exercises leading up to this to practice LAYERING. A lot of times I teach watercolor, I notice that students think they are done after one light layer of paint. I always want to express to them how much more you can actually do with watercolor by layering.
So we start with a watercolor technique strip, where they learn various ways to actually use the watercolor. Then, we do a small painting that is only graded on participation. This helps students learn how to layer and work back into their paintings. By this time, they are reading for their final watercolor project.
I graded them on 4 things: Use of Watercolor Techniques &Use of Layering, Knowledge of National Park, Craftsmanship, and Effort.
These took students about 8 class periods to work on. When they finished, I had them use their phones to look up facts. They had to write 5 sentences about their National Park on the back of their painting. The kids were interested and actually found out really cool information that they shared with their friends!
I do enjoy creating art that looks nice but the nice thing about this project is that not only do the paintings look nice, but the students learn about something real in the world, and they can apply their knowledge to more than just the art making process. Here are some final products that showcase all different skill levels!
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