Lesson Plan Title : Exploring Watercolors

Overview and Purpose: Students will explore the medium of watercolor paints.

Students will create one of the most basic watercolor painting techniques (wet-on-wet) and how to enhance that technique with salt, crayon resist and blotting. They will also reinforce their knowledge of color mixing and complimentary colors.



1.Create a foundation/backdrop for a continued social studies lesson
2.Experience the unique properties of watercolor paint
3.Gain knowledge about the watercolor medium that will help them in future art lessons.


1.Experience and perceive the qualities of watercolor paints
2.Demonstrate understanding of wet-on-wet watercolor
3.Apply knowledge of color mixing


brushes (large & small)
watercolor paper
watercolor paints
paper towels
plastic dishes, butter tubs, etc. for rinsing
newspaper for desks
table salt and/or sea salt
white crayons
some kind of drying area, rack



1.Show samples- Which are watercolor? Why? How do you know? What is different about watercolor? What words would you use to describe this "media?" Who has used watercolor? What were some problems you had? What good things do you remember?

2.Watercolor is TRANSPARENT, not OPAQUE. It is built up in layers. Wet-on-wet is a soft, blending technique good for backgrounds like sky and water in landscapes. We will be created backgrounds for out Michigan Landmark Silhouettes!


1.Brush care, paper care, neighbor behavior.
2. Demo each step at central table, if possible.

Class Practice:

1. Prepare your brushes by placing them in water to soften.

2. "Prepare your moist cakes of paint by dropping water onto the cake to let it dissolve."

3. Prepare your paper: Write your name on the back. Use a sponge to wet the paper. Smooth the sponge across to remove puddles. Paper should be completely wet.

4. Wipe off most of the water from your brush... leaving it wet but not dripping and dab it into the color of paint you want to use.... let us start with red.... load the brush with red paint... it should be wet but not dripping.

5. Holding the brush upright move over the paper and bring the brush straight down and dab a red circle onto the paper. Watch how the paint spreads from the area of initial contact with the brush.

6. Rinse brush, dry slightly on paper towel and load brush with yellow paint. Dab a yellow circle next to but not quite touching the red circle. Watch the paint spread and mix. Observe how the colors mix and form new colors.

7. Rinse and load brush with blue paint and dab a blue circle near both the red and the yellow circles... forming a triangle.... observe how the spreading paint forms new colors.

8. "Next place a loaded brush of color on the paper and draw it toward you forming a straight line. Add another line next to it with another color. Draw a third line with a third color that crosses the first two lines....observe how the colors spread and mix.. ". "**DON'T FORGET TO RINSE BRUSH BEFORE LOADING ANOTHER COLOR***

9. "Find some unpainted spaces on your paper. Use the white crayon to make squiggly lines, circles, straight lines and shapes in those blank spaces. It will be hard to see where you are drawing. Load your WET, CLEAN brush with a color and paint over these areas. You may add different colors to mix on the paper. See how the crayon prevents the color from sticking to those areas.

Be careful not to make mud on your paper by mixing too many colors together. Unless you WANT to do that. Stay away from OPPOSITES on the color wheel:

11. "Use the salt to sprinkle on a very wet, dark color. Just do a few areas. As it dries, the salt sucks up the color in those small spots, creating a really interesting frosted look.

12. "When you are ready to move on, put your practice paper in the drying area. Get another paper and begin again. This time, choose paints that represent a night or daytime sky. What colors are in a day sky? What are in night? Use just these colors and some or all of the techniques you've learned.

13. "You may do several, if there is time. Try night AND day, if possible.

14. "Cover the paints tightly when finished and wash and dry the brushes well.

Independent Practice:

1.Time permitting students may repeat.

2. Once you feel confident that students have the basic concept down. Placing them in groups and challenge them to match colors that you have premade. Please note that if you are using lower quality supplies, which most of us are, you will need to prepare these colors right before you display them to students. I have found that using a palette that is sealed with plastic wrap works very well. I would just test this ahead of time. Please note that extreme temperatures do result in different color changes. I would reserve this activity for room temperature classroom conditions, if possible.

Learning Checkup:

1. Circulate room, checking for understanding.
2. Re-demonstrate common problems, address new problems as they arise to entire class.

Wrap Up:

1. Clean up procedure. Organize cleanup by tables.

2. Students will choose their favorite for their State/Province Landmark and it will be used next week.