Juanita, Hot and Cool

Grade 3/4:  Draw a Chicken; Bring On the Pastels!

Session 1

Once again it was time to bring in our prettiest chicken, Juanita, to another classroom of delighted students (“We have a chicken in our class!”).  This is always a show stopper in itself, and I never get tired of the squeals of disbelief and surprise (I’m smiling as I write this).

Once the initial shock wears off, with Juanita in her cage at the center of the classroom and the desks arranged in a circle around her, I pass out big sheets of paper (one to each) and we are ready.

My instructions were this:  do a line drawing of Juanita and make her large, fill the page because Juanita herself is larger than life!  Not to draw just any chicken, mind you – rather, to draw the chicken they see in front of them AND to draw her as they see her.  That means the particular angle they have given their position in the circle, Juanita’s tendency to move (funny thing about live chickens), and by closely observing the details of her feathers, her feet, her comb and wattles.  (Yes, they learned a few new words that day.)  As you will observe by the tendency of most students to draw her with a full-on side view, you can see that they struggled to go with anything else.  I even had to prevent a few students from moving to get that view for themselves.  My instructions were for no shading, and once they were finished with the pencil lines they could go back over them with – you guessed it – Sharpie marker.

Session 2

With Juanita safely home among her sisters, and the classroom desks back in their usual rows, it was time to get some colour on the scene.  We divided the class, with one half being the COOL group (so indicated by having them snap their fingers repeatedly in true beatnik/cool cats fashion) – and the other half being the HOT group.  They thought they were being left out until I showed them their signal: the always fun ‘lick of the forefinger and touch to the butt with the accompanying sound of hot sizzle’.  Got it?  Then we just had fun having them volleying those signals back and forth a few times …

Okay.  Enough of the high jinx.  With oil pastels in hand, they were to colour just Juanita, using only the colors that applied to their group, NOT Juanita’s true pigmentations.  This took a bit of convincing, and a lesson on the whiteboard about which colours would be warm/HOT and which would be cold/COOL.  We listed them there so they could refer back as they made choices.  I have to say that at this point, as they saw the freedom of NOT having to use the nut brown colours that Juanita is, they got quite excited over their projects!

Since this session was a double one, once they had finished colouring only the chicken – it was time for the ol’ switch-a-roo.  Those who were HOT became COOL, and those who were COOL became HOT.  Oil pastels were exchanged for chalk pastels, and the task now was to fill in the background.  I gave them free rein on how they were going to to that – they could construct a scene for Juanita, or simply have her in an abstract or decorative background, as long as they used the color group that was opposite to the one they coloured their chicken with.  Again, some struggles with understanding that difference but, hey, here are the results!

I wish I could hang a few of these in our chicken coop (with the appropriate gold frames of course) – I wonder what Juanita would think?

Spring 2012 / Ferndale School

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