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Thursday, 9 March 2017

School Holiday Project: All About Shapes, Colours & Glittering Pictures

The educational value of today's blog can not be overrated. We show the kids how to draw a butterfly step by step, using the most common shapes. This serves as a really good exercise in getting acquainted with shapes. We then shape-code the colouring process, serving as a lesson in colours as well as shape identification in a search. We also do a bit of mirror drawing. Then, just as things start to get too educational, we leave off to have fun by painting the whole picture with an Epsom salt solution that dries into shiny crystals. Who said learning couldn't be fun as well?

Find the center of the page and draw an elongated oval. Kids may find this difficult to do. Put 2 dots to mark the top and bottom ends of the oval. Put 2 more dots on left and right to mark the width of the oval. Allow them to connect the dots by themselves, drawing the elongated oval in the process.

A basic circle form the head.

Make 2 lines on the sides.

Connect the wings to the body, in the process creating 2 triangles. Start the bottom wings in the same way.

Complete the bottom wings as you did the top ones.

Draw antennae on the head. It is a good time to introduce a new word if the kids are not familiar with it.

Draw small circles on the ends of the antennae. You can work an extra lesson in on opposites here; top, bottom, left, right, big, small, etc.

Repetitive curved lines can be tricky for kids to master and drawing these double lines as decorations on the body is a necessary skill that needs to be developed. We tend to take these skills for granted in ourselves and expect them of our kids, when they really need more guidance from us. Younger kids may struggle with heart shapes. Point out how this is really an upside down triangle that has collapsed in the center and has rounded corners. If the child is not yet ready for these intricate shapes, replace them with other shapes.

We now decorate the wings. This is when we pay close attention to shapes and how we form them.

Restrict the shapes in the wings to 3-5 shapes in each wing.

Challenge the child to mirror the top wings in the bottom wings. This is a brilliant hand-eye coordination exercise.

If the child once again draws the circles in the top corners, that is already a great achievement and they need praise for doing so. The example mirrors top to bottom.

Faces tend to be more important to kids than to adults and they may be very agitated if you don't add a face to the butterfly. Keep it in tune with the rest of the lesson, sticking to basic shapes. The mouth can be a complete circle, or you may feel that the child is ready to be introduced to the concept of the semi-circle.

The youngster who was working with me did not get everything spot on, but received nothing but praise from me. (Granted, I was busy working out the lesson and could not give her all of the necessary attention she deserved).

When colouring the butterfly, challenge the child to colour all of the circles the same colour, regardless of whether they are big or small, or even inside each other, as with the eyes in the head.

I neglected to say this earlier, but let me add it here, if a child has a problem with a particular shape, do not draw it for them. Instead, make dots to mark the shape and allow them to connect the dots by themselves. This way they become familiar with the shape and gain confidence in their own abilities. My niece flat-out told me she could not draw a triangle. I made the dots, and she left with enough confidence to be able to declare that she drew the triangles herself. Good! Confidence is the first step towards success. Next time she may be able to attempt it without the guiding dots.

Squares are coloured in the same colour. Allow the kids to select their own colours. They need to verbalize the colour. Ask them why they like the colour, what does it remind them of, where else does this colour appear, etc. Children need to learn to communicate with adults and to verbalize their actions and choices. Talking about what is happening is a very necessary part of learning.

The semi-circle gets its own colour. Have a conversation about the fact that there is only one of this kind. Is there a child in the class who is so completely different from anyone else? What makes them different? Can you see that being different is not bad, but it simply means that you have a special place of your own? Can you see that the different shape is still part of the larger picture? These emotionally laden questions can help to shape a child's emotional intelligence and to nurture their emphatic skills.

Identify all of the triangles and colour them the same colour. Did the child identify the encompassing wings as triangles as well? Identification and searching for shapes among other shapes is a valuable skill exercise.

The hearts are found and coloured.

The double lines are coloured. You may wish to introduce the concept of segments, parts, and wholes. This is a good foundation for future introductions to fractions. Not yet, though!

Finally the elongated oval is coloured.

Remember to praise the child, regardless of mistakes. Guard against saying things like 'It is a very good job, except for the ...' The child will only hear the errors. Praise only!

Now we will have an early science lesson, but we will not introduce any scientific language. There is enough time for that later in life. You will need Epsom salts.

I found this great tip on the side of the box!

Boil a little water.

You need to mix equal parts Epsom Salts and water. I used half a cup (125 ml) each, but it was way more than we needed.

Dissolve the Epsom Salts in the hot water.

Paint all over the picture with the solution. Use big flat brushes. This is not about accurate painting as the 'paint' is transparent at this stage of the experiment.

Thick layers of 'paint' will result in better crystals. Get the picture nice and wet.

Leave to dry.

As the solution dries, crystals will start to appear.

Semi-dry crystals.

My niece was very happy to see the sparkles of the crystals in the sun. This was a good opportunity to point out the difference the direction of the sun made to the picture. I will use this lesson in later years to teach her about light and shadow in a painting.

She could not look away from the shiny picture long enough for me to get a good photo of her with her artwork!

Once completely dry, the crystals are very obvious and make interesting shapes and layers.

I hope the photo shows the differences in the crystals clearly. Now go and have some wholesome educational fun with your own child. They will love doing this, especially since they will be doing it with YOU!

Marietjie Uys (Miekie) is a published author. You can buy the books here:
You can purchase Designs By Miekie 1 here.
Jy kan Kom Ons Teken en Verf Tuinstories hier koop.
Jy kan Kom Ons Kleur Tuinstories In hier koop.
Jy kan Tuinstories hier koop.
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