Robot Paintings with Value and Color Mixing
I got this lesson idea from Deep Space Sparkle who was inspired by John Post and a blog entry he had. I absolutely loved the concept and had been brainstorming how I wanted to use paint and color mixing with my fourth graders. I followed a similar path as John Post and Deep Space Sparkle, and I had the kids make a list of robot characteristics on the board. Afterwards, I sent them back to their seats and they each drew their Robot on a 12"x18" sheet of paper (I let them choose from white, grey and blue paper). I had them paint the outline in black and that was all that we had time for that class period.
In our next class together, we recapped what we were doing and how we were going to paint them. I wanted them to use mostly grey and explained "value" so that they understood that we would be adding highlights and shadows to our paintings. I explained how we would paint, paint mixing and how to mix colors directly on the paper. During my paint demo, we discussed how to make grey and made some guesses as to what would happen when we added a little blue or red to the grey (the kids guessed correctly!). I was only giving them white, black, blue and red paint (I encouraged that red and blue mostly be for accents as we wanted to use mostly grey for our highlights and shadows later). I reminded them that we would draw small details on our robots later, so for now, we just wanted to fill them in. The kids did a great job! Some of them had really small details they wanted to include, which was a small struggle, but all in all, they were able to paint their robots with ease. As they were finishing "filling in" their robots, I had them pause what they were doing and we talked about value. The kids were able to identify what areas would probably be lightest (or shiny) and which would be darkest with shadows. They were also quick to point out that we should use white paint to show the shiny parts (highlights) and black paint to show shadows. And the kids who mixed in blues and reds, were able to figure out that they could add blue or red to their black paint to get a navy blue or maroon shadows.
In our last class of working on this, we drew small details directly on our robots using permanent marker. I gave them black and red markers for this task. This did not take them the entire hour we had together so I
also started them on another project. The robots came out hysterically! I love how many kids wanted to make sure that their robot had a self-destruct button ("just in case") and how many of them doubled as vending machines. Their creativity never ceases to amaze me.