Sunday, January 27, 2013

Next Kindergarten Unit: Cherry Blossoms

As Valentine's Day approaches, I like doing lessons on the Cherry Blossom tree.  I think cherry blossoms are very beautiful...I wish they could survive in the North Country!  I don't like doing Valentine's and kitschy projects like that, so this is how I compromise.  The students still get to use pinks and reds, which makes them feel like they are making a Valentine's Day project, but I still get to teach them a little history!

I will be starting this unit on Monday with my students, but I wanted to share what I've done in the past two years with regards to cherry blossoms.  I have a power point that I use to share a little bit of the history of the cherry blossom...
     -They originate in Japan
     - In 1912, Japan gave the U.S. 3,020 cherry blossom trees as a gift of friendship.
              ~That is how we have them in the U.S. today!

We look at lots of beautiful pictures of cherry blossom trees from the park down in Washington D.C. as well as pictures of the trees from Japan.  I use this lesson as a way to introduce drawing more realistic trees, a horizon line, and coloring the sky ALL the way to the ground.  (Gulp...Phyl will dislike this, but I use the "Y" tree technique for the younger Kindergarten and 1st grade students! ;)

Here are my plans for this year's Kindergarten unit of cherry blossoms:
Our first project with be a one day project.  We'll look at my power point, and then create a tempera painting of a cherry blossom branch.  I've been dying to do this simple stamping project that has been floating around Pinterest, so we'll be adding the flowers by stamping pink paint using the bottoms of water bottles.

For the second project, we'll spend two days to complete it.  We'll review how to draw a cherry blossom branch, and then do so with brown crayon.  I'll introduce watercolor paint to the Kinders, which they haven't used yet, and we'll paint over the top of our branch to do a wax resist.  The next class, we'll talk about texture and add the flowers using the crumpled tissue paper.  This will give a nice segue into a texture unit for Kindergarten.

Last year I did this cherry blossom project with my 1st graders.  This is what we made:

The rest of these projects are from my first year of teaching.  Looking at them now, I feel like they are very undeveloped for projects, but I'll share them anyways!  It's not that I think they are bad, I just see very boring compositions now, and I didn't use the projects to their full potential.  When it's time to recycle these projects, they will definitely be getting a makeover!

The following pictures are from a "heart blossom" project I did with 1st grade.  I did this as a 1-day filler project right around Valentine's day while we were in between projects.  We talked about cherry blossom trees, but then I did let them make heart blossoms to glue on.  We also talked about symmetry (folding small pieces of paper in half to cut out half a heart).  These were ink blown trees using India ink and straws.

For the final cherry blossom project I have to share, I must say that I'm almost embarrassed to share!  Am I being too hard on myself?  Maybe...but I can definitely say I have grown from these! This project was done with Kindergarten, at the same time as the heart blossom project.  I did not teach them the "y" tree technique...I just simply asked them to paint a tree without any demonstration.  Looking back at it now, back then I felt the projects that were the best were the ones that were symmetrical, and for lack of a better word, "tree-like".  But now, I think the better ones were the asymmetrical ones that look more like branches instead of trees!


  1. These are going to be fun! I did some water bottle stamping last year(saw on Pinterest also!) with my 1st grades in the spring. They used them to put flowers on some vines they painted. I had some take out soup containers that i put the paint in and the bottles. the sides of the containers held up the bottles so they were not falling all over the table! i found the less paint i put in the container the better the print was. Too much and the flower image got all smushed. The kids loved stampimg with the bottles! Have fun! :)

  2. So now I have a guilty conscience! (just kidding). Thanks for referencing my tree projects - I'm pretty proud of my students' work from the link you provided.

    My favorites from the images in this post are the ones from your first graders last year. They are beautiful! Nice to see the green grass and pink flowers when everything is gray and white and brown outside.

    1. Those are my favorite, by far, too! My favorite one of that group is the first one...that student was a particularly difficult student who came to our school last year and for some reason, he LOVED this project! It was a turning point for him and I in art class. Unfortunately, he moved out of our district again at the end of the year.