Monday, May 3, 2010

2010: Year of the Tiger

Natty241 posted a lesson on her blog last month that she calls "Big Cats".  I loved what she did and thought we might give something similar a try.  As it was, we'd been talking about Chinese New Year, Spring Celebration, and the Year of the Tiger this month.  We'd done a little Chinese brush work, and some practice drawings of tigers.  Her lesson really pulled a lot of things together for our kindergarten, first, and second graders and we owe her a great big thanks.
To make our cats, I first brainstormed with the kids about what kind of animals are called "big cats".  I collected their ideas.  And we looked at some reference photos from the library. Next, I did a quick demonstration to get them started.  I showed my students how to start big by drawing two dots for the eyes.  I showed them how to add the nose, mouth, muzzle, head, and ears. I really emphasized "big", and using the whole paper.  We used 12"X18". I showed students how that they could let the cat touch the edges or flow off the paper.  I had ready an example that was finished as a tiger, so in my demonstration, I showed students how to add a mane to the basic cat face if they wanted a lion, or spots for a cheetah, or leopard.
Students were given brushes and black tempera, thinned with a little water so it really flowed off the brush.  No pencils, just paint and brush.  If students felt ready to start on their own the dug right in.  I did a step-by- step demo at the board for little ones who wanted the help. 
We finished our big cats in three different ways.  I loved the way first grade work looked as a brush and ink drawing and these were mounted on orange paper for the art show next week.  Second graders finished their cats with chalk pastels and got some experience blending analogous colors.  Kindergartners finished their cats with crayons practicing coloring "the kindergarten way", and blending oranges and yellows to get those in-between colors.
Check out the original lesson at


  1. OOh, these cats are beautiful! Thanks for joining my new blog (There's a Dragon in My Art Room) at I don't know how you found me, but I'm thrilled to have visitors :-) especially a neighbor in Vermont (I"m in NY in the Adirondacks)

  2. Awesome idea! I haven't even touched on china this year! In my spanish speaking school we have a chinese teacher. How cool! They will love this.

  3. Thank you ladies!! Phyl...I'm glad I stumbled into your blog, but I can't quite remember how. You've got a lot going on over there. I love those teddy bear chairs. Hope you don't mind that I added you to my blog roll so that your great ideas will travel:)

  4. I just connected your blog from your comment on my blog! Thank you for the sweet compliments! These are awesome, and I am so glad your students enjoyed it! Kids tend to like tigers and lions!Thank you for posting, and i will add your blog to my list!