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Above and Below the Ground

Students apply their knowledge of living things above and below the ground in a watershed ecosystem by painting an illustration using a crayon resist water color technique.

  • Grade 6
    Grades 7 and 8
  • 60 to 90 Minutes
  • Directions

    1. Prior to opening this lesson, take the class a nature walk through a garden or park and taking pictures to share images before students begin painting.
    2. Display a chart of a watershed system. Students discuss how rain cycles through the air, ground and water systems.
    3. Model how to use a black Crayola© Crayon to draw a horizon line (with a dip for drainage), which establishes what we can see in the rock garden and what we cannot see that is in the ground in the middle of a 12" X 18" (30.48 cm x 45.72 cm) white sheet of heavy drawing or watercolor paper.
    4. Review how shapes and lines help build drawing details. Demonstrate how to fill in the details with Crayola Watercolor Paints, wiping excess water and using a sponge to soak up water puddles by dabbing, gently.
    5. Display garden photographs or ask students to recall details observed in the garden. Model how to use shapes and lines to create: branch-like lines attached to the plant stems first; then make half-circles below the horizon line to detail the holes for an animal underground and plant roots, drawing wavy and “copy-cat”/parallel lines for the ant farm. Below that section, add a wavy line for the water flowing at the bottom of the water system.
    6. As a contrast to nature, model drawing an oval shape to bury man made trash, and inside of the oval have students draw a soda can, crumpled ball of aluminum foil or a plastic bottle. These items can be displayed in the classroom for more accurate drawing. Use Crayola Metallic Crayons to give non-biodegradable trash a realistic look.
    7. For drawing the visible details above the horizon line, add oval and circular rocks across the landscape, make a stretchy capital "M" to capture blades of grass, and an “eleven” for stems with leaves. Demonstrate petal shape repetition; then draw the insects/bugs, which are created using simple shapes – circles and ovals – and the number "8".
    8. For coloring details that should remain white, use a white crayon to fill in the wings of a dragon fly, or marbleized patterns on a stone. When the watercolor is painted in the background space, the crayon resists, or blocks, the absorption of water on the paper.
    9. When filling in the blue sky background, demonstrate dampening the paper with a wet brush, so the color will have an even paint application. Allow time for paint to dry.
    10. As students display their artwork, discuss the biodegradable and non-biodegradable breakdown of different trash items that they have drawn.
  • Standards

    SCI: Analyze and interpret both positive and negative impacts of human activities on earth’s natural systems and resources.

    SCI: Obtain and combine information about ways individual communities use science ideas to protect the Earth’s resources and environment.

    VA: Experiment and develop skills in multiple art-making techniques and approaches through practice.

    VA: Relate artistic ideas and works with societal, cultural and historical context to deepen understanding.

    VA: Identify how art is used to inform or change beliefs, values, or behaviors of an individual or society.

  • Adaptations

    Give students a magnifying glass and have them take a much closer look at plants, flowers and rock surfaces. Challenge them to paint a "bumble bee's view," after showing them the abstract paintings of Georgia O'Keeffe.

    When students take a nature walk, have them collect a variety of leaves, and have them make leaf rubbings by shading the leaf's details on top of thin drawing paper, using the broad side of a crayon, with the paper is completely removed. Apply watercolors across the leaf, and add different colors to fill in the background space.

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