Friday, March 22, 2013

March Comes in Like a Lion...

March seems like a fine time to create Lions, in paintings, drawings and clay figurines. My 2nd graders love to learn about lions and have much of their own information about them to share via the many wildlfe shows on cable. I let them know that when I was a kid we had one show: Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom. As great as it was, that was it. Marlin Perkins, now there's a gem. There are plenty of great video clips of lions in the wild to show students to get them prepared - altho it doesn't take much-kids are naturally fascinated by the beauty, power, grace and pride of lions already!

Starting in Kindergarten we learn how to draw figures of people and animals by putting shapes together. So by 2nd grade most of my students are pretty comfortable trying their hand at a drawing of a lion in sharpie & crayon, and then painting in watercolors.

I always like to add a literature connection to most of my lessons especially with the lower grades (K-3). I have a couple of fun vintage stories about lions I like to share with my kids. One I especially like is called LION by William Pene DuBois which won the Caldecott Medal in 1957.  It's a charming, quirky story that is great as a read-aloud (I love to do funny voices when I read it). It is a fantasy "origin story" about an angelic artist in some sort of celestial workshop of designers responsible for the different characteristics of animals. It's pretty hilarious, the illustrations are fantastic and in the end it's really about celebrating the beauty of art and design in nature.

After the drawing and painting, we are very comfortable with the form of a lion in 2-D and can move on to creating one of our own in clay.

I use the pinching technique with this age-group--pinching out the head, legs, tail-instead of attaching- but I do discuss how to successfully add and attach pieces of clay, as well. Sometimes we use air-dry clay (above, below) with watercolor paint and gloss medium glaze. If my kiln seems cooperative, we'll make them with kiln-fire clay and glaze. They are all beloved by the kids. As they move on to older grades they always reminisce about the lion they made in 2nd grade.

The Lion: King & Queen of the Art Studio! We're all "lion-arted" now!


  1. Clearly you are a true art connoisseur, Madame! The children thank you.

  2. Fabulous! Wish I had a 2nd grade teacher like you!

    1. Thank you Melissa! I appreciate your kind words...