Autumn Moon

photo 2
I have a slight obsession with owls.  Can you tell?

This project is easy-peasy, and a great opportunity to discuss both science and language arts with students while creating a truly impressive work of art.  Art concepts — positive/negative shapes (for grades 2-3), line, geometric shapes, and painting techniques.

You need:

Black paper
tag board, with circles cut out the size you want the moon to be (about 6″ diameter for 9 1/2″ x 11″ paper) keep the outside   piece!
chalk (blue, purple, yellow… light colors)
white tempera paint on a paper plate
black tempera paint on another paper plate

We start with two templates cut from tag board — a circle (the size you want the moon to be) and the leftover piece from cutting out the circle.  We start by placing the tag board circle on the paper and coloring the back with chalk.  Then, wipe the chalk from the center of the circle, outward, onto the black paper, to create the moon rays.  Be sure the circle stays put and doesn’t slide around during this step so you get a good circle shape in the middle.  Then, line up the “leftover piece” of tag board with the circle shaped hole in the middle over the black void left by the last step, and dab paint into the center with a wadded-up paper towel.  Don’t use a lot of paint — you want light places and dark places to mimic the craters on the moon.  Take up the white paint at this point so students don’t mix all the paint into grey!  Then pass out the black paint and brushes.

Before the next step, I like to demonstrate painting techniques.  This part can be tricky if students get carried away with paint brushes.  I like to remind them to paint lightly, like they’re trying to tickle the paper with the brush.  I demonstrate ways to make thick lines and thin lines by gently varying the pressure on the tip of the brush.  I demonstrate making a few “Y’s” on paper because we will be using the letter “Y” to create the tree branches.

To make the owl, I start with two dots, like eyes in the middle of the moon.  Then I draw circles around the eyes.  Then I make triangles above and below the eyes for the beak and the “ear” feathers.  (Fill in the “ears” but not the beak.)  Then I make a triangle from the outsides of the eyes to where I want the feet to be and fill that in, leaving the beak unpainted.  Then I draw a thick line below the owl, right where the feet would be to be my big branch.  Then I make “y’s” with thin lines coming off the thick line to create a nice frame of branches around the owl.

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As we clean up, I ask students if there are owls in West Virginia, where we live.  Most students don’t know!  We have three kinds of owls — the Eastern Screech Owl, the Great Horned Owl, and the Barred Owl.  I ask the students why we drew the owl with the moon behind it instead of the sun.  Of course, owls are nocturnal animals, so they like to go out at night instead of during the day!


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