So I’m teaching art classes for my youngest daughter’s kindergarten class. Of course I am. Because I like to come up with ridiculous projects and am constantly surrounded by small people. Perfect fit. And one of the parents had the brilliant suggestion to make pine-cone turkeys. And even better, to get all the pine-cones for us! Yes! And hooray!!!
So the search began for a turkey that would be easy for kids, that wouldn’t cost too much, and that wasn’t too “jacked up” looking. But here’s the thing. Have you SEEN a turkey? Like in real life? They are not cute. I’m sure they have great personalities, but they ugly. So after looking at youtube videos & waaaaaaay too long on google images, I ended up drawing the turkey bodies with sharpie onto my brown craft-paper cardstock (I got a pack of it at Michaels in the scrap-booking section. Best $5 I ever spent. Really great for pastels. But I digress.) (But I don’t really love how they turned out, so I redrew them for this post. Because, again, I like to come up with ridiculous projects.
SUPPLIES: Watercolors, watercolor paper (for the tail), brushes, brown craft cardstock (for the heads), gold paint, crayons, pine-cones, hot glue
BEFORE THE LESSON: I pre-cut out the turkey heads & tails & folded the turkey heads down. Volunteer Dad got the pine-cones.
DAY OF THE LESSON:
-First we watched a video of a wild turkey on the smartboard. Most the kids had never seen a real live turkey before, and they unanimously agreed that turkeys are extremely hilarious.
-Next I pulled up google images of a turkey for reference & we talked about colors. Talked about warm vs. cool colors. Turkey heads can be blue, brown, red, LOTS of colors! Talked about “layering colors”, that it’s ok to use two colors on top of eachother. Minds blown.
-REMEMBER TO HAVE THEM PUT THEIR NAME ON EVERYTHING FIRST!
-Colored turkey heads with crayons (white crayon looks especially neat on the brown craft paper).
-Traced hand shapes onto the tail feather section with crayons. I made the mistake of having them use white & yellow crayon. Don’t do it. They scrubbed their little watercolor brushes over the crayon lines & they just vanished. Next time we’ll do brown, red & orange.
-Used watercolor to paint over the crayon hand shapes. Limit them to warm colors (yellow, red & orange).
-Gave each table a little paper plate with a little dab of gold acrylic paint. Had them paint “feather texture” on the edge of their tail feather shape. This had a varying degree of success. And that’s ok.
AFTER THE LESSON:
-The following school day I hot-glued the turkey heads & tails onto the pine-cones. I thought a vertical pine-cone seemed more “turkey”ish, so I switched it up. TA DA!!!!
TIPS FOR TEACHING SMALL CHILDREN ART CLASSES:
With full disclaimer that I am for sure not a professional teacher.
-PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT!!! One adult per 4-5 kids is just about perfect for kindergarten. If that’s not feasible, try breaking the class up & doing it in little groups.
-TAKE THEIR PROJECT AWAY BEFORE THEY RUIN IT! Every kid can make a cool painting. The trick is to swoop in at the right time and say “Good job honey! And now you’re done.” They get so extied about art that they want to keep going and going. I totally get it! But no. Time to be done. (This is really where having extra volunteers comes in handy! They’re little art ninjas! Their project can go from awesome to brown mud slush in 10 seconds.)
-LIMIT THEIR COLORS: Don’t get me wrong, I definitely believe we should use every crayon in the box. I love all colors. But sometimes all those choices can be overwhelming.
-PRAISE EVERY PAINTING!!! Most kindergarteners are just excited to have art in class. But around 2nd/3rd grade they become really hard on themselves. It’s like a little self-critical switch gets pulled at this age and all of the sudden they’re “not good at art”. I try to lay a foundation of success young so that they feel good about what they’re creating and can grow up and STILL enjoy art.
Here’s a file to print YOUR OWN turkey heads from. They look a little different than the ones we made, but hopefully cuter…