Reading month is coming to a close, but it's not too late to incorporate a little celebratory art into your classroom – especially if you are counting down the minutes and looking for an easy way to fill the time until spring break can finally begin. Here is the perfect Cat in the Hat-inspired art project to share with you that's super-easy to create, is engaging for students, and looks amazing.
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First of all, I have got to hand it to my girl Jennifer from First and Kinder Blue Skies. She makes the best directed drawing activities that are super-simple, but look like a million bucks after the children draw them. Jennifer has a bunch of directed drawing activities for various seasons and academic content available on TpT – check them out now and thank me later – but wait until after you see the rest of these art projects!
Anyways, I wanted to recognize reading month and prepare for my school's upcoming Open House, but I always seem to be short on time in the classroom (this year more than ever!) So I needed something quick and easy that would make an impact. We had just finished reading Dr. Seuss' classic story “The Cat in the Hat” in celebration of the late author's birthday and it was the perfect opportunity to introduce a fast art project.
So I stopped by the First and Kinder blog, downloaded the free Cat directed drawing activity, and proceeded to have a quick drawing lesson with my students on their whiteboards. I ALWAYS have my students “practice” drawing the picture on their personal whiteboards before we draw on paper. It's easy to erase and correct mistakes with a whiteboard and a dry-erase marker and I find that the practice draw helps my students gain better spatial awareness for how the shapes will fit together on the page.
This is an example of a different directed drawing that my students completed in the fall when we read the book Go Away, Big Green Monster! It's ALWAYS worthwhile to practice drawing on a whiteboard first.
On this particular day, we went right from practicing to drawing the Cat. (I always use white cardstock for drawing and paint artwork in the classroom. It absorbs the water nicely and the cardstock doesn't curl like lightweight paper does when you add paint.) Once every child had a sheet of cardstock, I carefully led them through the exact same steps to recreate their picture on the white paper. It took about 20 minutes from start to finish for the class and I to gather materials, practice drawing on whiteboards, and do a second directed draw on cardstock.
My kindergarten students always draw their pictures with a pencil, and the next step is to trace on top of all the pencil lines with a black crayon. I find that the black crayon makes more of a bold visual impact than pencil, but it also serves a helpful function. We usually paint our directed drawings with watercolor paints and the wax of the black crayon creates just enough of a functional barrier to help keep the watercolors confined to separate areas on the cardstock.
After all that drawing and tracing, the only thing left to do was add color to our cats! The real Cat in the Hat is a bold tri-color white, black and red and I knew watercolor paints wouldn't give that crazy cat the high-contrast look he deserved.
I knew that the bold colors and great coverage of tempera paint would be so much better for this project than watercolors. But I was in a hurry and I needed a quick, easy way to make these cats good. Kwik Stix to the rescue! I first discovered Kwik Stix a few years ago and was amazed at how easy they were to create rainbow paintings with my class. You see, Kwik Stix are solid tempera paint. Yes, you read that correctly. Solid. Which means no drips, no spills, no mess. Just gorgeous color with great coverage. Kwik Stix are sort of a cross between a glue stick and an oil pastel. Just turn the base to push up the paint, then gently rub the Kwik Stix onto paper for an easy way to “paint.”
I knew that Kwik Stix would be an ideal way to finish our Cat art projects without taking a lot of time or making a mess. Students came to see me two at a time to add black and red paint to their Cat drawings. They didn't need paint shirts or have to wash their hands afterward!
I LOVE how adorable their Cat “paintings” turned out!
The student art projects were complete, but I had one last project that I needed their help with. I used our classroom projector to trace a giant Cat in the Hat onto white bulletin board paper. I outlined the Cat with a black marker and each student took a turn using Kwik Stix to help paint the Cat.
Our finished Cat looked amazing, the students loved being a part of a large-scale piece of artwork and I loved that there was zero mess. The paint went on smoothly, coated nicely, and dried instantly. It look less than 15 minutes for the entire class to have a turn painting part of the Cat. LESS THAN 15 MINUTES! Praise the Lord, because time is a valuable commodity in my kindergarten classroom, as I'm sure it is for you as well.
All of the classrooms in my school decorated their doors with to celebrate reading month. Our giant Cat in the Hat was the perfect decoration for my classroom door, and the painted Cats complimented it so well!
A common question I am asked about Kwik Stix is how long they will last. I own two sets of Kwik Stix, which I used to create eight rainbow “paintings” a few years ago, then we used the same sets to create twenty Cat pictures, plus the giant Cat in the Hat for my door decoration. They didn't dry out at all in all that time and there is still plenty of leftover paint in those Stix.
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And there you have it! An easy, adorable, Cat in the Hat inspired student art project to help celebrate reading month!