1 Feb 2013

Snowballs and a BEAUTIFUL Art Lesson

Title: Snowballs
Author: Lois Ehlert
Publisher: Scholastic, 1995
Topic: Weather, Snow, Birds, Art
Intended Audience: Ages 4 - 9

Brief Summary: If you thought snowmen only had carrot noses, then you're in for a big surprise. This book is full of gorgeous, collage-style snowmen (and women and girls and boys and pets). Children of all ages will be inspired to create an artsy snowman either on paper or outside with the real stuff.  

Why I Like It: This book doesn't tell a story; instead it's a visual treat. There are lots of opportunities to marvel over the imaginative people, laugh at the popcorn and peanut-stealing squirrels and birds, and count all the colourful objects. It's the kind of book you can look at again and again, just to appreciate a different aspect.

Opening: Do you think birds know when it's going to snow? I do. The seeds we left out were almost gone. New snow would soon bury the rest.

Follow Up Activities: There are lots of fun activities that would fit nicely with this story, the most obvious being to build your own snowman with found objects.

1) How about making pine cone bird feeders?

Image of pinecone feeder

2) The images lend themselves well to written character descriptions.

3) But my favourite activity of all is the one we did this week. I found this lesson at Deep Space Sparkle. If you don't know about this site, you must visit (after you finish reading my post:)) ~ it's one of my favourite art blogs. Here's what we did!

Each child had an 12 x 14 piece of paper. They folded it in half and drew a black line down the fold. Deep Space uses pastels, but I don't like the mess, so we used black crayon and pressed hard. On one half of the paper the kids drew lines and dots and squiggles with both black and white crayons.

Then they took out their water colours and, using bright colours, painted their paper. It's important to paint each section of lines a different colour.  On the other half (the one they DIDN'T draw on) they painted two or three colours and then I quickly sprinkled on salt (you must do this while it's still wet). It's hard to see in the photo but it gave the paper a lovely mottled effect.

While the papers were drying we started creating our birch trees. I drew lines on 12 x 14 paper (vertically) ahead of time and photocopied them so that everyone had tall, wide, straight trees.  Everyone received a small piece of card stock folded in half. They dipped the folded side into some black tempera paint, placed a line of black across their tree trunk, and dragged down a bit.

When they were dry I used the paper cutter to cut their trees (I really wanted them straight and you know what some kids can do with scissors and a straight line :))

Next step was to choose a background colour and glue on the tree trunks. Most kids made two trunks, but a few intrepid souls chose three.

Remember the gorgeous coloured paper the kids made earlier? They took that paper and laid out the tracers I made to trace and cut the parts for two birds. I made six sets of tracers out of card stock (one for each of my tables) and they had no problem sharing them. You can click the image below to grab a copy of the tracers.

Almost done ... the kids arranged their birds on their paper (I checked first before they glued anything down), coloured in eyes, legs, and branches with black crayon, then used some white tempera paint to dot some snow over the entire creation.

Voila!!  Aren't they GORGEOUS?  I just love them.

BTW, we saved up all our painted paper scraps to use in other projects. The children put so much effort into making the paper it just seemed a shame to throw it away.

Thanks for stopping by and please be sure to check out more fabulous book finds at Susanna's blog (thank you for hosting this, Susanna!!)


  1. Your art lesson is turned out GREAT... stunning art work from your students. Thanks so much for sharing!
    Granny Goes to School

  2. Oh - those are just beautiful! I especially like the one in the bottom right corner where it looks like the birds are kissing. :)

    Runde's Room

    1. Kissing birds ... I thought that, too :)

  3. ANYTHING with birds is good with me! But this is STUNNING!! I've got to figure out a way to get this into my plans. I wish I had more time every day!
    Owl Things First

    1. I was thinking about you the entire time I was doing this post, Jenny:)

  4. I'm from MI...I haven't seen anyone use birch trees in art in a very long time!! Their was one in my Grandma's front yard and we used to get in trouble for peeling it!!! Anyways that's lovely! Kirsten

    1. Thanks, Kirsten! We don't actually have a lot of birch trees around here either but they sure were easy to make:)

  5. Barbara, These are beautiful! I love watercolors with salt.

  6. Those pictures are just beautiful!! Your students really put a lot of effort into creating these amazing pieces. I have definitely been slacking in the art department. You are inspiring me to break out the paints ;)

    First Grade Garden

  7. Snowballs is one of my favourite winter books too.
    Your kids' birds in the trees art is fabulous. That was a lot of steps to navigate, but the finished product sure is stunning. I love how all the birds have their own personality - even though they were made from the same tracers.


  8. Those are lots of fun. Your little artists did a fabulous job!
    ❀ Tammy
    Forever in First

  9. Beautiful art work! The birds especially came out so pretty and colorful!
    Conversations in Literacy

  10. These are just simply FABULOUS! So pretty!!

    First Grade and Fabulous

  11. Love the different take on making snowmen/women. Lots of creative things to do. And, of course your activites are stellar!

  12. OH WOW! Their art turned out AMAZING!!!!!
    Definitely pinning this!

  13. The art work is fantastic!! I love how each one is unique!

    Kelly @ I'm Not Your Grandpa, I'm Your Teacher

  14. Gorgeous project Barbara!
    Absolutely lovely!


Thanks for leaving a comment :)