Sunday, March 28, 2010

Easter Projects: the good, the bad and the ugly

(Ellie, the daughter of a friend from my Masters Program, make sure to look at her photo next to the projects that did not go well:0)

Spring break is over and it is time to think about the projects for next week. We are officially into spring both with the calendar and with the weather here in Portland (rain as always but with flowers!)
I was at Target and realized there was a LOT of Easter stuff around...when is Easter this year I pondered. A trip to the candy section answered that. April 4th, wait that is next weekend! Aggck, the first week back and I am already hit with Easter. To do Easter related projects or not? We never do Easter outright, more like eggs, chicks, bunnies and sheep. All things that relate to spring and rebirth, not just Easter.
Last year I did a set of egg related projects. Some were great and some were horrible.

First the GREAT: (3rd-6th grade)
Go to your school librarian and get the Reading Rainbow video of Rechenka's Eggs by Patricia Polacco. This is a great episode of Reading Rainbow. If I have time I show the kids both the story being read and the interview with Polacco making a Ukrainian egg. If we are short of time I just show them the demo of the egg painting.
After the video and a short discussion I give the kids a large egg shape template that they trace on black paper. They then use colored pencils to decorate their eggs. I did this with 3rd and 4th graders last year and they all loved it.

I will do this with this year's third grade class this week.

The good: Scratch board Ukrainian eggs (3rd - 6th grade).
After watching the video above students trace the egg shape onto old Manila folders and cut out the egg shape. They then color the entire egg shape with bright colored oil pastels and then cover the oil pastel with a layer of black tempera paint. The next class students use paper clips or wooden skewers to scratch away designs. These turn out well but take two classes to do, so they won't work this year.

The BAD: Design a egg: 1st grade.
In my head this lesson still seems ok but it turned out a MESS! I made a black line drawing of a large egg and gave the 1st graders a selection of tempera paints to paint and design their eggs. Sigh. I ended up with about 60 brown and pea green eggs from kids just mixing all the colors together and 15 nicely painted eggs. This was the project that made me realize I needed to paint with the little kids more often so they wouldn't loose control when the paint came out.

This year I have 25min and a new plan. Students will use oil pastels to design their egg (with a focus on pattern). They will then cut the egg in half, receive a die cut chick to use and glue the split egg with the chick coming out onto paper. Classes that had good behavior will get some Easter grass to glue to the picture.

The UGLY: NEVER DO THIS!!! Plaster Easter eggs (5th grade)
We usually post our successes, not our failures but this one was horrible. I wanted the 5th grade students to make real Ukraine Easter eggs. I considered having the students blow the yolk out of their eggs but decided we would end up with lots of broken eggs. Then I decided I would blow the eggs for the kids but it became apparent that I did not have patience to blow 50 eggs.

If I was smart I would have given up at this point and done the first project I listed. But no, I wanted to do something memorable for the kids. So I went to the $1 store and got a bunch of plastic eggs. I took these home and practiced painting one with craft paint. The craft paint did not stick well to the plastic. So then I decided to go get plaster casting strips and cover the plastic eggs with the plaster strips. That part worked really well. I let it dry overnight and painted it with acrylic paints the next day. Oh those look great I thought.

On the day of the project 10 min before the 5th grade classes came to art, I learned that state testing would start the next week and art would be shut down for three weeks. Crap we only have one class to do this project... So we cover the eggs with plaster, set them on the heater to dry, watch the Reading Rainbow video then go to paint our eggs. The plaster seemed pretty dry but as soon as we added the paint things started to fall apart, literally and figuratively. Let's just say it was not pretty and later that day I found chunks of painted plaster and broken apart plastic eggs all over the school and the playground. The custodian was really unhappy. I spent a lot of time cleaning up the broken projects from around the school and I wasted about $20 of my own money.

Perhaps this project could still work with the extra time for drying the plaster before painting.

So to backtrack this week we will:
5th grade: One class needs to finish their electric guitars while the other class will start camouflage rabbits from the lesson I posted a few days ago

4th grade: still painting Victorian houses

3rd grade: Ukrainian eggs on black paper with colored pencils

2nd grade: Stealing this lesson idea from Katie over at Adventures of an Art Teacher. I think they will like working with the shredded newspaper and decorating the eggs.

1st grade: will try the new oil pastel version of decorated chick egg

kinder: Will focus on shape and the word Overlap to learn to draw a bunny from behind. Each student will get a cotton ball to put on the bunny's tail. Students will use crayons to do green grass and a wash of blue around the bunny.
I will provided a circle to trace around for the body so the kids can work on proportion.


  1. I wish they had a full time art teacher in our district. I really feel our kids are missing out! Maybe I should start a petition!

  2. The only reason they have me is because we are a K-8 program and the middle school kids are supposed to have some art. I think it is always great to let them know that people would want art!