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Teaching Kindergarten Kids to Watercolor

written by: Natasha Stiller • edited by: Linda M. Rhinehart Neas • updated: 9/11/2012

Do you have bad dreams about introducing watercolor to your kindergarten students? Do not fear, if you model the use of this gentle artwork style, your woes will end. Utilizing watercolor in the classroom is a great way for student to develop their fine motor skills, a great pre-writing exercise.

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    Introducing the how-to's of watercolor

    Watercolor is such a fascinating art form and one that should be exposed to children. Children love the colors that are expressed as they utilize water colors to create pictures. They also are learning a great deal about how watercolors work, and are really forming great fine motor skills with the methodical repeating pattern from water to color to paper, and again.

    So, the question remains: How to teach kindergarten students to watercolor. I believe when it comes to specific materials, students need to have the technique modeled to them. If I were to get out a brush, some water, paint, and a piece of paper, my students are going to start to inquire as to what I’m doing, if they don’t already know. I would model this activity for them, first by showing them how we use the watercolors. I would show them that if I don’t get my paintbrush wet, the paint isn’t going to cover my paintbrush. This would share with them the importance of the first step, getting the paint brush wet.

    Second, I would show them how if we mix the colors together, they would start to turn different shades and we wouldn’t have the primary colors we need to paint with. Then, I would wipe out the wet discoloration to start my picture. I would verbalize my steps. First, wet my paintbrush, second, choose a color. Then I would start to share with them what I was trying to paint. Perhaps, I want to make a rainbow. I would walk through the steps of painting a rainbow. I would maybe even ask, what color do I start with if I want to make a rainbow. Oh, yes! Oh, no. I forgot how to get my watercolor paints to my paper. Does anyone remember? A student would share that I needed to wet my paintbrush, and I would continue to paint my rainbow, consistently reminding students the importance of the steps, water, paint, paper, water, paint, paper.

    When their turn came to use the watercolors, I would make sure they were following the directions, otherwise, they would be removed from the activity momentarily until they could repeat the directions and show the following steps. I believe it is important when working with kindergarten students and specifically the how-to’s with new experiences, for them to be able to explain why you are completing something in a certain way. Until they could verbalize the directions, the activity should stop.

    In teaching kindergarten students how to watercolor, they should be comfortable with the process of watercolor and the importance of utilizing the water and paint to create their masterpieces. I do want to emphasize that it is a good idea to only give students a few colors at a time, or to have a watercolor set per student, to ensure that they maintain responsibility if they do end up mixing their colors.

    Check out these lesson plans for some specific ideas.

    http://www.brighthubeducation.com/middle-school-lesson-plans-the-arts/62857-heart-art-watercolor-project/

    http://www.brighthubeducation.com/lesson-plans-grades-3-5/62295-watercolor-painting-winter-snowflake-and-snow-globe/

    http://www.brighthubeducation.com/elementary-school-activities/29892-rainy-day-easy-watercolor-painting-project/