Third grade students planned their castle’s mood and landforms, chose their focal point, then colored their drawing with oil pastels.
- Construction paper
- Pencils, erasers
- Oil pastels
Downloadable PowerPoint: Castle Creativity
I am always searching for projects that will encourage my students to stretch their creative and problem-solving muscles. I found an idea for a great project on Donald Art Room. I decided to condense the project down a bit so my third graders could finish it in a week.
I started the project by having the kids brainstorm with a bubble map on the back of their paper. I love that this project introduces ideas from Literature and Science. They decided what kind of castle they would create, what the mood would be, and what landform they wanted to draw around their castle. Some kids needed a little more help understanding the concepts, so as they were brainstorming I walked around and talked with them about possible moods or landforms they could choose.
I have them sketch their castle directly onto the paper that will be their final artwork. We do this project after talking about shapes for the Shape Robots project. This is a great way to get them started on drawing their castle if they feel stuck. I have examples of organic and geometric shapes on the board, so I can tell them to pick a shape to use as the building part of their castle. That helps them get started and they take off from there, adding shapes for different details.
Because we only have a week to finish each project, I let them choose a colorful construction paper for the background (I like using gray, light blue, and yellow as options). This way they can leave some parts of the artwork uncolored and the piece still looks great. It also helps me to stretch my oil pastel supply for all 1,000 students!
When they’re sketching, we talk about deciding which part is more important to them. If they want the castle to be the star of the show, then they can draw the castle really big and add the landforms in as smaller parts of the background. If they want the landforms to be more important, they can draw the landforms first and make them bigger.
Sharpies are an essential part of this project! After they sketch, they go over their pencil lines with Sharpie. This make a huge difference in the design standing out after they have colored it in with oil pastel. Once they are ready to start coloring, I do a demo where I show them some techniques for using oil pastels. First, we talk about outlining a shape first and then coloring it in. I also teach them a couple ways to combine colors – they can overlap the colors and leave them or blend them in with their finger. We also talk about how pushing hard makes a color darker.
Kids usually either hate or love oil pastels. What I like about this project is that they decided how intense they want to get with the materials. I have some students who will labor over coloring every part of their drawing, blending multiple colors together. Other students will put a lot of energy into the sketching part and then are content to quickly color their art. Either way, I love that this project gives them a chance to do some critical thinking about the subject of their artwork.