Oh, how I love you, 1st Grade van Gogh inspired sunflower paintings! Let me take a moment to count the ways...
1) Right on time. Sunflowers are at their natural growth peak in late summer right when school starts. Since I live in a rural area and thanks to my fabulous colleague, Mrs. Herr, I was able to get my hands on some real live sunflowers for the students to look at, sniff, and touch. I even got out a few pairs of plastic science tweezers so we could do some intricate sunflower seed surgery, extracting the seeds from the seed head so the students would understand how the seeds are arranged in the sunflower. I explained that when the sunflower is done blooming, the seeds fall to the ground until next spring, when they'll grow into new sunflower plants. Did you know a sunflower can grow up to 12 feet tall?
2) Line Variety Review We spent the entire first day of class learning about van Gogh's life, basic sunflower anatomy, and using our observational skills to sketch the flowers we saw in front of us. These are the directions I gave to my 1st graders to help them capture the scene. This sketching method reinforces most of the lines they were introduced to last year in Kindergarten.
3) Double loaded brushes!!! For most projects we do with paint, I am a real stickler for using only one color at a time and constant brush hairdo rinses. For this project, the students were allowed to, gasp, double load their brush with two colors at a time! I gave the students some yellow, orange, and white so they could experiment using thick, double loaded brush strokes much like van Gogh. This gave them beautiful two toned petals which literally inspired a round of applause during my demonstration! The little people have spoken and it is unanimous, double loaded paint brushed are awesome.
This work is a result of a mash-up of a lesson I spied here on the Sunrise Point Elementary website, but it is very similar to this post over at Deep Space Sparkle.