Fun with watercolors

Kids love to paint. In summer camp, when I would offer a choice of a project like painting or playing a theater game the unanimous vote would be for the art project. I have used the following activity tons of times with our FunLab kids and thought that Moms at home this summer might find it useful when trying to fill all those afternoons before the kids go back to school. All you need are watercolors, watercolor paper, crayons and some imagination!

Usually I start by having the kids imagine drawing a line down the middle of the front of their body and explain that their body is symmetrical and ask if they can show me what is same on either side of the imaginary line. This conversation can get quite silly but then we move the conversation to show that symmetry is part of nature. The easiest example is a butterfly. The important part is to stress that not only the shape of the wings but the distribution of the colors is symmetrical.

For example, a blue spot on one wing must be mirrored by a corresponding blue spot on the other wing. The kids get a hang of it immediately. I then showed them two watercolor techniques:
1. Wet on wet painting: sometimes kids get frustrated with watercolors because they do not spread as easily as acrylic paint but the simple advice of wetting the area they want to paint with a couple brush strokes of water can make all the difference. It is fun to see how the water colors spread out!
2. Crayon resist: The kids drew their image first with a black crayon. I had them press down with the crayons so that the watercolors would be “held” in by the black borders.

Each child picked a different image to draw trying to respect the symmetry conversation – birds, bees and flowers…

We have some more great watercolor projects coming up so stay tuned!

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