I have to admit, I was a little nervous to teach this class. Would a bunch of preschoolers allow me to limit them to one color? Would they find monochromatic art to be completely boring?? I knew an added challenge would be that many kids are still learning the names of colors. What happens when I throw two shades of yellow at them and name them both yellow? Will I completely confuse these children? In the end, this was one of my favorite classes and their artwork turned out STUNNING. I was so sad when they took their art home. I wanted to hang their work in the studio and never let it go.
When planning our opening activities, I made sure to keep the developmental differences among the children in mind. I knew the four-year and older kids would be ready to find the differences between color values. I presented them with paint chip strips and clothes pins with matching colors. Students were challenged to match the clothes pin to the correct color strip. It proved to be a puzzle, but was solved by several students.
For the younger students in class, we continued building their understanding of colors through several color sorting activities.
To launch us into our project, we did a picture walk through 'My Favorite Color' by Aaron Becker. This is a gorgeous board book that offers a spectrum of hues. It was the perfect book to start a conversation about Value. Each page has translucent windows of color in various tints and shades. I would remark, "What color is on this page?" And the kids would remark, "Green!" I would say, "Yes, they are all green, but they don't all look the same." Then we went through the hues and gave them names. "This looks like spring grass. How about we name it Spring Grass Green?" The kids were excited to come up with creative names and the exercise helped them see the differences within color value.
Then came the hardest part. I asked kids to pick a color they like at that moment and asked them to keep working with just that color for the duration of the project. It was a tall order and some kids needed reminders, but to my relief, the kids were not very bothered by the restriction.
Each student started with a blank canvas and a squirt of their favorite color. I asked students to try to completely cover their canvas. As they worked, I came by and added more of the same color, along with a large squirt of white. And after more time, I added a small dot of black paint. The white and black paint naturally mixed on the canvas, creating unique blends of tints and shades.
There was a lot of "aha!" moments. One little girl was excited to discover pink could be made from red.
Once canvases were completely coated in paint, I pulled out collage supplies. I told students they could choose any material and place it anywhere, but remember to keep to the same color.
Students had so much fun selecting collage materials. Of course, the glitter was hugely popular. I enjoyed watching how each child chose to arrange the materials on their canvas.
Even though our focus was all about the process of our work and how it helps us understand color value, we also ended up with a gorgeous work of art that I would gladly display.