Thursday, June 30, 2016

Japanese Koi Fish with 3rd Grade

200th post! Woohoo!

Inspiration for this project came from this post via pinterest...

I Can statements: I Can tell you something about Japan. I Can draw and paint two or more koi fish in an environment. I Can use watercolors correctly.

As i've mentioned in other 3rd grade "travels" my goal is to give my students the biggest picture of a culture or country as I can in a one project time frame. I would love to spend months on one culture/part of the world but with our curriculum as is--this is the best way that I have found to frame the lesson. To help my students track their new found knowledge, each time we "travel" to a new place I have them fill out a passport page. You can read more about this process from this post.

Day 1: Intro to Japan, passport, and practice.

We started by looking at the Japanese flag, looking at Japan on a map, and then 5 facts about Japan!

1. Japan consists of over 3,000 islands
2. There are more pets than children in Japan (this BY FAR was their favorite fact)
3. Around 24 billion pairs of chopsticks are used in Japan each year
4. Mt. Fuji, the tallest mountain in Japan, is also an active volcano
5. Koi fish are symbols in Japanese culture for good fortune, success, courage, and perseverance. They appear often in Japanese art.

Students shared experiences where they have seen koi fish before and what they looked like and made them feel.

Then the first part of their passports were filled out and it was time to start working. I provided them with the handout I created below and they practiced 4 times (or more) drawing the fish.

 I put a really big emphasis on this sketching process because their final painting was going to be on watercolor paper and they were only going to get one piece (front and back) so they really needed to be prepared and practiced in drawing koi fish. When they had it down I gave them their piece of watercolor paper (only a few students got to this on the first day).

Day 2: Final drawings, crayon outlines.

During the next class everyone moved on to the watercolor paper and to help control their watercolors they outlined everything they drew with pencil in black or white crayon. 
I found some really great and LONG youtube videos of koi fish ponds to play during work time this day and on their painting days...they also were great inspiration for when it came time to choose colors to paint their fish.

Day 3: Painting and salt demo, painting work day!

We kicked off with a demo of painting using watercolors and how to apply salt for the best results in creating one of my favorite watercolor effects. Once students started using the salt I swear it was all over my room for the next month. I put up the image below for students to look at while deciding on colors for their fish. They were also allowed/encouraged to make up their own breed of koi fish ;)

Day 4: Last workday and wrapping up Japan passport entry.

The last full class workday was spent painting and adding tissue paper flowers.

I am SO PROUD of the quality of work that came out of my students on this project. I think I have to thank the watercolor paper for that-- which really encouraged them to focus, slow down, and take their time working.

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