The arts motivate and engage children in learning, stimulate memory and facilitate understanding, enhance symbolic communication, promote relationships, and provide an avenue for building competence. – Young Children and the Arts: Making Creative Connections, The Task Force on Children’s Learning and the Arts, 1998
We are playfully following the journey of very hungry caterpillars as they turn into butterflies (read more about how we transformed our caterpillars here).
After looking at caterpillars more closely (outside and through various books like “It’s a caterpillar” by Elisa Peters), the children noticed that caterpillars have many different features and wondered about why some caterpillars have soft hairs or stripes, if they have eyes and teeth and why some of them would need spikes.
To encourage further observations and questions we created our own caterpillar drawings and had much fun with printing and color mixing using chalk pastels.
- Tempera paint
- Chalk pastels
- Sturdy paper (we used left over matboard from our local framer)
- Paint tray
- Various circle-shaped lids for printing (e.g. round cookie cutters, Mason jar lids etc.)
STEP 1: DRAW OR PRINT A CATERPILLAR
Set out trays filled with tempera paint. Depending on the age of the children they can draw or print a caterpillar. Either paint circles with tempera paint or dip different-sized circle-lids in paint and press down in a row to make a long caterpillar. Let dry.
STEP 2: DRAW DETAILS WITH SHARPIES
Give each child a black Sharpie and have your caterpillar books out on the table. Invite the children to look closely at the different features of caterpillars before they add any details of their choice. Remind them to draw lines and to not color anything in because we will get to do the coloring with chalk pastels.
STEP 3: ADD CHALK PASTELS
Demonstrate how to use chalk pastels (we like smaller chalk pastels like these because they are easy to handle and blend for little hands):
Show how to turn the chalk on it’s side, how to rub it back and forth and how we can use our fingertips (or whole hand) to blend the colors. Blow off any excess chalk. Let the children experiment with two colors at a time. If you are working with 3-5 year old children like me, chances are they probably just enjoy blending and mixing the vibrant colors. I’d only point out if the colors would make brown and the children would wonder about what and how many colors they could mix. If you are working with older children you could introduce more advanced concepts such as color families / warm and cool colors (e.g. use cool colors for the background and warm one’s for the caterpillar etc.).
Tip: Keep a few cotton balls or tissue papers handy for blending since some children might not like working with the dusty, powdery pastels.
Aren’t they lovely?