Sunday, July 18, 2010

Monet Lesson Plan

"I am following Nature without being able to grasp her...I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers."

- Claude Monet

Katie and I have recently been studying the art of Monet. Earlier this spring we covered Mary Cassatt (Lesson Plan 1) and Van Gogh (Lesson Plan 2), though it has been awhile since we've done a project. I am happy that my three-step method of reading about the author, looking at several examples of his or her work, and finishing the unit with a hands-on project appears to be working well and that Katie is truly learning. About a week ago, we were in the craft store to have a mat cut for my cross stitch and to purchase a frame. Katie was looking at some posters nearby, and suddenly she called out, "Van Gogh!" Indeed, she was pointing to "Starry Night."

I never tire of planning lessons for my own child. I love to teach, and I love to create experiences of learning. I've been pondering the best way to do a Monet project for quite some time. I have seen some other lesson plans, but nothing had all the elements I really wanted, and some were too complex for Katie's age. A few days ago I finally figured out how to form the project, and today's culmination activity was born.


I chose to focus on water lilies with Katie, since Monet is known for his water lilies. He spent something like twenty years painting water lilies, and his paintings of them epitomize his style.


1 large piece of blue construction paper
1 large piece of green construction paper
watercolors and brushes
tissue paper in any color (we used white and pink)
glue stick
white glue

Before beginning the project, if you have a younger child, prepare the lily pads and leaves by cutting out those shapes (you can free-form it) from the green paper.


1. We have been reading about Monet for awhile and looking at examples. Start the project by reviewing what your child knows about both Monet and the elements of his art.

2. Have your child glue the water lily pads and the leaves onto the blue construction paper with the glue stick.
3. Let your child place the shapes wherever she wants. It's her project, after all!

4. Use watercolors to give an "impressionistic" feel to the art project. We've talked about some of the ideas behind Impressionism already, before this project.

5. To direct her to the next step of the project, I asked Katie: Do you like to tear things? I showed her how to tear and then crumple up a piece of tissue paper in her hand.

6. Katie glues on her lily flowers. I helped her dip a bigger paint brush into some white glue, and she would put a little dab of glue wherever she wanted a flower.

6. Katie's water lily project!

This lesson plan was really easy and hardly required any prep (both my Van Gogh lesson and my Mary Cassatt lesson required much more). The whole lesson took about an hour, and I hardly had to help her at all. I just sat by her and gave her vocal direction and praise and doled out the materials she needed at the right times. She really loved the painting portion, as I knew she would, and she was also quite enthusiastic about the tearing and crumpling of the tissue paper.
In a few days, I will follow up again with questions about Monet and what we learned---to make sure the knowledge has really formed.
We had all kinds of other fun today, too! Katie helped to make lemonade and loved putting the lemons on the juicer. We made chocolate chip cookies (we make fractions of batches so that we only have a few in the house at a time---besides, it is the making of them that is the best part). We also held our own "music class" this morning and reviewed many of our songs from Miss Kara's class and also danced. We also read several books and poems. We have needed a day like today to work on our usual things. Katie told me in the middle of it, "This is such a happy day!"
With my exam and then all of the holidays and family get-togethers going on lately, we haven't had much time to work on our workbooks or projects as much. Katie always seems to be happiest when her mind is busy and when we are engaged in learning together. She calls some of her projects her "homework"---interestingly, a term I have not really used with her. She must have picked it up from Bill's discussions of his students. Anyway, she says things like, "I love doing homework!" We will be successful as parents if we can maintain this love for learning that is already inside of her.
I started my day at 4:30 AM, though not by design. Katie woke up thirsty, and I was wakeful after helping her. I have been getting up near 5:30 everyday anyway (my body is on its own timing lately). Most days I work on my hobbies and stay awake all day, but today I started re-reading Jane Eyre just for fun and sipped some warm milk with freshly grated nutmeg---and then found the desire to return to bed. I crawled into bed with the cuddly Katie and went back to sleep for about an hour and half. It is so cozy to fall back asleep after reading (a luxury I used to have every weekend of life before children and which I rarely do now), and it is especially cozy to wake up with my daughter's head nuzzled into my neck. So our day began well.

One last picture: Katie is enjoying one of our cookies outside. She loves the little Katie-sized chair Boppa found for her! We played outside for quite awhile this afternoon, pretending to make pies and soups for the dwarves.