Kindergarten – Simple Watercolor Resist

Kindergarten – Simple Watercolor Resist

Description of the Unit – Students will learn about oil’s resistance to water both in nature and through the media of watercolor and crayon, and explore this resistance via playful experimentation and one finished composition.

Kindergarten watercolor & crayon resist, finished composition. This shows a blue cat with purple stripes, a flower and a sun on a blue background.
Kindergarten watercolor & crayon resist, finished composition

Activity statement – One of the most magical forms of art play for a kindergarten student is experimenting with watercolor resist using crayons. There is something so titillating, while at the same time satisfying, when painting over a drawing made with crayons leaving the crayoned design exposed. This is especially captivating when using white crayons. Why does this happen, they ask.

We answer that question by first examining how oil repels water in nature, via duck feathers. We watch a video of a duck’s feathers repelling water, discussing with students how ducks’ feathers are coated in oil produced by glands at the base of the feathers, allowing them to stay dry, because oil repels water. Next, we talk about what crayons are made of; due to the wax in crayons being composed of oily pigments, crayons also repel water, just like the oil on a duck’s feathers.

Students experiment with this just by scribble drawing in white crayon first, then painting over that randomly, to see the magical results. Then we practice with representational imagery. In this case we talked a lot about cats, hence why we got so many cat compositions. All in all, it was a fun yet educational experience. In later grades we also play with rubbing alcohol and watercolor, as well as salt crystals over watercolor. I like to introduce this a little later on because we go into a bit of the chemistry involved.

Goals – Students should…

Understand:

  • In basic terms, that oil repels water
  • That oil-based media can be used to create spaces within water-based media

Know:

  • The meaning of the term resist.

Be able to:

  • Complete at least one watercolor-crayon resist composition

Resources and materials – 

  • Watercolor paper
  • Liquid watercolor
  • Brushes
  • Crayons
  • Cups

For further experimentation:

  • Rock salt or salt crystals
  • Rubbing alcohol

Questions – 

  • Who has heard about ducks not getting wet? (If students raise their hands, as each to explain what they know)
  • Why do you think duck feathers are made to keep ducks dry?
  • Have you ever seen other examples of oil repelling water? Explain
  • What do you think crayons are made of?
  • What do you think will happen if you use watercolor to paint over crayon?

Evaluation – Did students:

  • Create one watercolor resist composition?

Informal:

  • Student questions
  • Group discussions
  • Oral responses to essential questions
  • Elaboration and risk-taking
Kindergarten watercolor & crayon resist, finished composition. This shows a large-eyed orange cat next to a palm tree and butterfly, on a blue background.
Kindergarten watercolor & crayon resist, finished composition
Kindergarten watercolor & crayon resist, finished composition. This shows a red, green and blue popsicle on a blue background.
Kindergarten watercolor & crayon resist, finished composition
Kindergarten watercolor & crayon resist, finished composition. This shows a blue and red bear-like creature on a multicolored background.
Kindergarten watercolor & crayon resist, finished composition
Kindergarten watercolor & crayon resist, two finished compositions. One painting has a pink dog, a rainbow-striped cat, on a rainbow background; second painting has a bat-like creature on a blue and green background.
Kindergarten watercolor & crayon resist, two separate finished compositions. I love how different these are.
Kindergarten watercolor & crayon resist, finished composition. This shows a pink cat in a purple top on a blue background, surrounded by hearts and stars.
Kindergarten watercolor & crayon resist, finished composition
Kindergarten watercolor & crayon resist, finished composition. This shows some kind of striped, big-eared creature in many colors, set against a blue and green background
Kindergarten watercolor & crayon resist, finished composition
Kindergarten watercolor & crayon resist, finished composition. This shows a smiling purple cat with large eyes set against a leafy background
Kindergarten watercolor & crayon resist, finished composition
Kindergarten watercolor & crayon resist, finished composition. This shows an orange cat with an umbrella, set among black, red, purple and blue watercolor
Kindergarten watercolor & crayon resist, finished composition
Kindergarten watercolor & crayon resist, finished composition. This is a multicolored monster with big teeth.
Kindergarten watercolor & crayon resist, finished composition

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