Monsters Don't Eat Broccoli (2nd/3rd)

This is one of my most favorite projects to teach my 2nd graders!
To begin, we read the book "Monsters Don't Eat Broccoli" written by Barbara Hicks and illustrated by Sue Hendra. My kids absolutely love rhyming books - so this one is a great one! The 'I can' statement I pair with this lesson is "I can create the illusion of depth in my artwork."
My kiddos read the statement and then talk about what they think it means. Most of my students haven't heard the word 'depth' yet at this point, so I have to do some explaining.
I pick up a sheet of paper (a fairly 2-dimensional object) and show them how we can measure the height and the width of the paper. Then I pick up the kleenex box from my desk (though any 3-dimensional object would work just fine) and show them how when we measure 3-dimensional objects we can measure the height, width, AND depth. Depth is the measurement of how far back into space something goes. So when we talk about creating the illusion of depth, we're really talking about creating the illusion of space in our picture.
This is an idea that my students have already started exploring in the past (when they did their winter value landscapes).. so I have them recall what they already know (creating a horizon line further up the page, things that are closer look larger while things that further away look smaller, etc.).
Afterwards I open up to one of the pages in the book and tell students that another way to create the illusion of space is by layering and overlapping.
There are typically three layers in a piece of artwork - the foreground, middle-ground, and the background. Since my students are already familiar with the idea of background I ask them to tell me what they can see in the background of the picture. Then we look at what is in the absolute front of the picture (usually the lowest thing on the page) and then talk about what we see in the middle.
I do this exercise with a couple of the pages until it seems like my kids have it down.
Then we switch gears and start talking about texture!
My 2nd graders already know that texture is the way that something feels.. but what they don't know is that there are two different types of texture - real and implied!
When we touch things with our hands and the objects feel a certain way, that's real texture. Real texture is easy to create when making 3-dimensional art (like the clay sculpture in the picture).
Working in 2-dimensions is trickier though. When something is flat artists have to figure out how they can make something LOOK like it would feel a certain way, even though it really doesn't (like how the monster in the picture look furry).
We talk about how artists can use things like pattern, lines, and shapes to create the illusion of texture in their work. This helps to create the illusion of depth because it makes the piece of artwork look more 3-dimensional.
After having my students help me draw out a few examples, we move onto the art making!
I have my kids select a sheet of 9"x12" construction paper and on it draw a picture of a monster. The only rules are: the monster has to take up most of the page, the monster can't have any weapons (or be overly gory), and it needs to have at least one implied texture. Once they are done drawing in pencil, they use construction paper crayons or oil pastels to add some more color to their work.

On the second day of the project I have my students begin on the carpet. We briefly review what we talked about the day before, and then I explain to them what we're going to do next. Since the monster will eventually be cut out and glued into our pictures, we still need to create a middle-ground and background. One way to do that is to overlap objects in our drawings!
So on a sheet of 12"x15" white drawing paper, I demonstrate how to draw out a middle-ground and background using only outlines (or contour lines) with oil pastels. Once the outlines are drawn, students get to use watercolor paints to add color to their work.

Finally on the third and final day of the project I give my students an opportunity to finish up their monsters and add any last details to their middle-ground/backgrounds with oil pastels. Once everything is done, they cut out their monsters and then glue them onto their middle-ground/backgrounds with a glue stick!

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