Art Lesson: Snowy Owlets

FullSizeRender-13Christy and I were recently asked if we teach art in small groups or as a full class lesson.  The answer?  Both!  Like most things, it really depends upon the task and if we think the children (and us) are able to manage the art tools, techniques and processes we want to use in a full class setting, which is definitely our preference at this point in the school year.  We’re both well aware that in a few short months our children will be in Grade One and we need to provide them with art experiences and opportunities to be fully independent in a classroom of their peers.  However, if we are at all doubtful, or as circumstances dictate (like this week), we will then opt for small group work; this takes longer, but gives us more control so we can provide the correct level of support for those children who require more.

One of our favourite painting projects is the Snowy Owls from Patty Palmer’s fantastic website Deep Space Sparkle.  (You can click on the link for her lesson description with lots of examples).  We’ve taught this art piece several times and always enjoy it as a full-on painting experience with the Kindergarten.  However, one of the children made the observation that these were baby owls, not adult ones, so we renamed our project to Snowy Owlets.

We like to use soft, bright colours for the painted background.  We had previously set the tables with paper and paint while the children waited at the carpet.  We always go over our expectations during a meeting time at the carpet before the children move to their seats, as there can be too many distractions on the table for them to listen fully to the instructions.  The children were assigned to tables with the understanding that “You get what you get, and you don’t get upset” in terms of background colour.  We use that expression a lot and the children always accept it with good humour.

We have a real mish mash of paintbrushes this year.  Lots of long handled paintbrushes and not enough short handled ones for small hands.  Quite a few children were willing to work with a full size brush, even though it can be unwieldy because of the length of the handle. These children felt they could manage because of their previous painting experiences and they did a great job!  The children’s self-regulation while we handed out brushes and individually negotiated sizes was remarkable as this task takes some time.

Time now for a little Bach and Vivaldi and let the painting begin!


After all the backgrounds are painted and dry, we flatten them out by placing the stack of papers under the puzzles for a few days.  A mostly flat surface, with no curling edges, makes painting the owlets much simpler.

Next, the children painted snow and the owlet bodies in white.  For the first time, I painted mine in small groups this year because we had no block long enough for me to paint with the whole class this week, so I squeezed in small groups during the morning Activity Time.  Christy painted her owl bodies with the whole class and you can see how beautifully all the children’s work turned out.


The last step is the fine details.  Again, in groups of four, the children managed one palette of yellow, orange, brown and black paint between them.  They all painted the eyes yellow; the beaks orange; the branch brown; and finally did the outlining in black, in that order.  The children were troubled about dipping their brush into the next colour without cleaning it first, but they soon saw that the darkest colour absorbed the lighter ones they had used previously.

We just love our little owlets, real and painted!  Aren’t these super cute?!


This Week In Our Room:  February 29-March 4, 2016

We’ve had lots of fun and excitement this week.

We had some very special visitors from West Vancouver Fire and Rescue come to see us on Wednesday.  Captain Marcia James and Assistant Chief Jeff Bush gave us a short talk on the role of firefighters in our community and some of the tools they use for fighting fires.  One of the most important things we learned is that firefighters do much, much more than just put out fires.  They are helping people all the time, from those who are very sick at home to those who might be injured in some way.  That is why we call them West Vancouver Fire and Rescue.

We had a special treat when the fire truck pulled onto the playground and the children were all able to climb up into the truck and sit on one of the seats.  Some of the children wore the firefighters’ headsets and very cute they were indeed!


We saw the yellow hoses, played with one of the water valves, carried the jaws of life and tested out the weight of a firefighter’s helmet.  And we had quite a long discussion about the blocks used to stop the fire truck from moving, or rolling backwards, while the firefighters were working.

We will be writing more about our West Van Fire and Rescue visit in an upcoming blog post.

It might seem like we are on a bit of a bird theme (we’re not, but this just occurred to us) as we decided to get started on our March self-portraits using a penguin background.  How about these cuties?

On Friday we also welcomed the West Vancouver Secondary School Concert Band and Concert Choir.  Many members of these musical groups are Ridgeview alumni so it’s always wonderful for the school staff to see how beautifully our former students have grown up and continuing to pursue their musical passions.

Upcoming Events and Reminders

Ideally, we would have all Library Books returned before Spring Break, so please try to return your book on your appointed Library Day.  Division 15 Library Day is Monday and Division 16 Library Day is Tuesday.

We will be sending home the children’s report cards on Friday, March 11.  We are unable to send them home earlier than Friday.

Mayfair is Saturday, May 7, this year and it is always very fun!  We’re asking everyone for a donation of two goodie bags for the Tombola Challenge, so please return your two bags when you can.  We have examples in our classroom if you wanted to see some.  Thanks to those families who’ve already brought their bags to school.

School will dismiss early on Friday, March 11 at 2 pm.  This marks the beginning of Spring

Break, which includes Good Friday and Easter Monday this year.  School re-opens for the Spring Term on Tuesday, March 29.

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