In this lesson, children are encouraged to experiment with different painting techniques and materials. In addition to standard supplies such as paper and paintbrushes, they use other implements, from sponges to eyedroppers to toothbrushes. They then come together to create a class collage or quilt. Finally, they help develop a “make things” box to be used for future projects.
Like Pinkalicious™ in the video, children explore how to develop flexibility and to exercise their creativity while expressing themselves through art. The notion that mistakes can be opportunities can help children overcome learning obstacles and understand such processes as scientific discovery and creative writing. See Get Smart with the Arts! for more information about how the arts can enhance children’s cognitive, social, emotional, and academic skills.
Two class periods
Prep for Teachers
Set up painting stations that feature each kind of painting implement. Children will rotate in pairs or small groups to try out the various methods.
You will need the following supplies.
- Items that can be used instead of paintbrushes, such as:
- Small sponges (cut-up kitchen sponges or makeup sponges)
- Plastic eye droppers
- Used toothbrushes
- Cotton swabs
- Straws (you will need to put a drop of paint on the paper and have children blow gently through the straw to make swirls)
- Sticks or twigs
- Different kinds of paper (be sure to have same-sized paper for the end project)
- Paints, preferably acrylic (you can also use tempera)
- Paintbrushes (different sizes)
- Aprons or smocks to protect children’s clothing
- Cardboard box or plastic crate (with a cover)
- Begin a brief discussion about art by asking, “What is art”? Talk about how art helps us express our feelings and ideas. It also comes in many forms. Encourage children to expand their definition by including as many types of art as possible: visual arts (painting, drawing, sculpture, printmaking, collage), dance (ballet, jazz, modern, country), dramatic play (pretending, acting, storytelling); and music (classical, folk, rock, reggae).
- Explore the idea that anyone can be an artist. You may want to talk about past art projects that children have done or point out art that is on display in the classroom, or artistic activities that children do outside of school.
1. Watch the video excerpt.
- Tell children that now they are going to watch Best Pink Present | PINKALICIOUS & PETERRIFIC™, which is an excerpt from an episode called Best Pink Present. Explain that Pinkalicious is a girl who loves to use her imagination to make all kinds of art, including painting. Her brother, Peterrific, often joins in the fun, but sometimes he can be a little annoying.
- After watching, check for understanding by asking students to recount what happened in the video. What was Pinkalicious planning to do? What happened when Peter bumped into her with his scooter? What happened after that? Correct any misunderstandings.
2. Accidental Art Activity
- Tell the children that they will now do some painting, but instead of using brushes, they are going to experiment!
- Show and name the tools that you have brought.
- Divide the class into pairs or small groups. Give each group a few minutes at each painting station to try out the implements.
- After children have completed their tour of the painting stations, gather them back into their pairs or small groups.
- Have one child, from the pair or small group, choose one of the painting implements (You can now add brushes to the mix). On a clean piece of paper, have the child begin a new work of art. Give students a moment to think about what they would like to show in their painting. You may want to circulate through the class and help children as needed. You can also brainstorm some ideas as a class to get the process going.
- After a few minutes, have the children stop and then pass their paper to their partner or the next person in the group. Give that child a chance to choose an implement and add to the painting.
- Have the pairs or small group view the painting together. How did it change? What colors or shapes were added? What happened to the original idea of what the picture was going to be? What does the painting look like it’s about now? (If there’s time, repeat the process by having the second child begin a painting and then have the first child add to it.)
- How did Pinkalicious feel at first when Peter bumps into her and “ruins” her original idea? What does she think about the final result? Have children talk about how they felt when their drawings changed.
- Have children sign (or dictate) their names to the shared painting.
1. Create a Class Quilt or Collage.
- Collect the paintings and create a class “quilt” or collage by stapling or taping the pictures together. Display them on a bulletin board.
- Congratulate the class on their “accidental” art!
2. Watch the video excerpt again.
- Together, watch Best Pink Present | PINKALICIOUS & PETERRIFIC™ again. Notice when Pinkalicious takes out her “make things” box. What is in it?
- As a class, brainstorm ideas for a class Make Things box. If possible, go around the room and collect supplies to put in the box (pencils, pens, stapler, glue, glitter, tape, cloth scraps, and so on). If extra supplies are not available, make a wish list with the class and gradually fill the box over time.
Gather books about various painting styles—realism, impressionism, pop art, folk art—and share them with the class. You may also want to use picture book biographies of artists (see Picture Book Biographies of Visual Arts) to introduce a variety of techniques. Invite children to create another painting on their own, experimenting with their choice of tools.
4. Home-School Connection
- Send home the essay Get Smart with the Arts! so that families can support what children are learning. If you have a class website or newsletter, you may want to post a picture of the class quilt or collage.
- Invite families to make their own “accidental art” painting or drawing by sending home the Create Your Own Accidental Art handout. Encourage families to send the finished art to class, and if possible, to write a short caption on it about who made it and what the painting is about.