Women's History Month Art Projects for Preschoolers & Elementary School Children
In my approach to incorporate more diverse learning for both my students at school and my daughter at home, both of these art projects are inspired by Black American women artists. The great thing about these projects is that they are very versatile depending on the age of the child working on them and not too many supplies are required to complete them.
Watercolor Abstract Art Inspired by Alma Woodsey Thomas
Alma Woodsey Thomas was an African American junior high school art teacher who worked on finding her artistic style while, teaching. After retiring from teaching in the late 60's she became well-known as an expressionist painter whose unique art style drew inspiration from many important events occurring during the space age in the United States of America. If you would like to give your children a more closer look at the life and artistic style of Thomas, you can download my lesson presentation below which includes videos of her art, history, and lesson vocabulary words.
Watercolor paint set
Watercolor paper or thick drawing paper
Something round to trace
1. Decide which painting you would like to do your own version of first.
2. If you are going to do any of the concentric paintings, start off by lightly tracing something round on your paper with a pencil to make a circle. (*You can start at the center or off to a corner.)
3. Start painting! There are just two important things to remember when working on these watercolor paintings to reflect Ms. Thomas art style:
a. The colors in her artwork were mostly made up of the primary and secondary colors. (red, blue, yellow, green, purple, and orange) In other words, stick to the colors of the rainbow.
b. There are no straight continuous brush lines in her art. Her artwork is made up of short brush stroke patterns. I call them "broken lines that resemble bricks" so that my younger students can understand it better.
c. Be sure to continue the broken lines brush strokes pattern in a circular shape over the entire paper all the way to the edges.
Tips & techniques for those working with watercolor paint for the first time:
*Use very little water to avoid blending of colors or splashes of water on your painting.
*If brush strokes begin to look scratchy on paper, that means your brush is too dry and needs more water in the paint.
*Always have a paper towel to dry off your brush each time you wet the brush.
*Each time you change a color, be sure to wet the brush and clean off the previous paint before dipping into a new color.
Gee's Bend Quilt Paper Collage Inspired by the Women Quilters of Gee's Bend, Alabama
Here is a short video you can show your children which, gives a brief history of the quilts of Gee's Bend.
My students were most fascinated about the fact that the history of these quilts go as far back as the 18th century, when enslaved women made them from old fabrics and that it might have been used as a secret map to get to the North through the Underground Railroad.
The women of Gee's Bend, would take strips of fabrics to create beautiful patterned quilts to keep themselves and their children warm. Little did they know that these quilts would today become a legacy of African American art depicting stories of slavery, segregation, and a journey to freedom.
After discussing the history of the quilts, I showed my 2nd and 3rd grade students a read-aloud story of the book, "Belle, The Last Mule at Gee's Bend" by Calvin Alexander Ramsey and Bettye Stroud. There are many books you can find that show and tell the art of these quilts and the importance it plays in African American history. For my daughter, because she is a lot younger than my students I read to her one of my favorite books on her book shelf, "Show Way" by Jacqueline Woodson.
Here's my amazon list with our favorite books on diversity and African American history.
After reading, I did a little bit of a reading comprehension discussion as best as I could with a 3-year old toddler and then we got started on our collage!
4 Sheets of colored paper *use different colors, no repeats of the same color
1 sheet of colored paper for the background
Take four sheets of your colored paper and cut each sheet into 4 rectangles. You can use the folding method or a ruler if you'd like to cut them evenly. *Be sure to leave the background colored sheet in tact and that it is a different color.
Glue down 6 rectangles on the background paper leaving a small width of edge. Be sure that you don't place the same colored rectangles next to each other, the idea is to create a colored pattern that doesn't blend in.
2. With the remainder scraps of paper, begin to cut different geometrical shapes to create different patterns inside each of the rectangle.
**Tip: The best way to do this is to work on one individual rectangle at a time to create a pattern before moving on to another this way each rectangle will have it's own unique pattern.
These lessons are not just great because of the historical context to the contributions of African American women in art but, it also teaches young children various skills and techniques. Some of which include, geometry, patterns, hand and motor skills, colors, as well as exploration through the use of creativity and imagination.
If you try these lessons with your own children, I hope you truly enjoy it. I know I definitely enjoyed it with all of my students at work and with my daughter at home. Please be sure to leave me a comment and share some of your final artworks with me by tagging me on instagram. I am excited to see how your children do with these!
Remember, the best way that we can help create a better world for our children, is by educating them and that starts at home...
...Sew This is Life!
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