Monday, December 27, 2010

Blazing Banyan Tree

- white drawing paper
- black tempera paint
- paint brushes
- pencils
- oil pastels

I found this wonderful lesson in Dynamic Art Projects for Children. It's an excellent project to teach negative and positive space.

My anticipatory set was teaching and showing students examples of Banyan trees from India. They were really amazed with the size when I related them to football fields. We discussed positive and negative space, which was a concept they easily understood.

To begin, I taught them how to draw the trunk and branches. The students added their own smaller branches in between the major ones simply by painting lines in the negative space. The last step was to add in the hanging branches or trunks.

They painted in the tree black and added the color in the negative space, something different than we typically do. They were asked to use two colors in each section so that they can practice their blending. I personally try to teach them the method of blending without using their finger, but there are always some that can't get out of the habit of doing so.

Most added a sunset towards the bottom, but I think they look lovely any way. 

We saved an area beneath the tree to color in as water. We also practiced how to add in a reflection.

Honestly, every single project was a success! As long as the children colored in every spot leaving no white spaces, they were so colorful in the end they all looked beautiful!


  1. Gorgeous! I saw something like these posted a while back, and thought Blazing Banyan Tree was a book title, but was unsuccessful trying to find it, so I guess it was a blog post taken from the lesson in the book! Aha!

    So let me get this straight - the black is tempera,and the color is all oil pastel? How long did they take? I'm imagining some kids getting impatient with filling in the colors, or having trouble staying between the lines, but from your beautiful results, maybe I'm wrong.

  2. Yes, the black is tempera and the color is all oil pastel. It took about... 6 or 7 days? I'd say the first day was mostly introduction, the drawing of the tree, and just beginning to paint. Day 2- finish painting. Day 3- 6 or 7, coloring.

    I have my 5th and 6th graders every day for ten weeks as opposed to my lower grades once a week. In most districts that consider 5th and 6th elementary, and have art class on a more limited basis, I think a 6-7 day project might be exhausting! (For example, if my 4th graders did a project that took 6 or 7 classes, that's technically over a month!) I have the opportunity to do more extended lessons with my middle schoolers because a week long project to them appears to be.. normal, I guess?

    I even had some students that were so anal about making it look as if they stayed in the lines, they took a black oil pastel to cover up their mistakes. Can you believe at that age there are even some perfectionists?

    Last comment!- I even did this with my 12:1:1 class this year (and they rush through EVERYTHING!).. it took them about 4 days.

  3. Thanks for the explanation. I see my 5th and 6th graders for 40 minutes 2x in a 6-day cycle, which means twice most weeks, but not all. They take forever to complete everything, and it frustrates me because I have SO MUCH that I want to do!!

  4. I know! With my fourth graders and below... I try to do lessons that take them about 3 to 4 (at the most) 50 minute classes... more than that and they get very restless!

  5. These do look a lot like the project we did. I really like your colors and the water is a nice element.

  6. I love most of the projects in that book (Dynamic Art Projects for Children), this is the only one though that I haven't modified to fit my teaching style and time frame.

  7. Thought I would pass on this URL Here you will find various lessons from the book mentioned in the post. One of the free lessons is the Blazing Banyan Tree. Thanks for the post. I am anxious to try out the lesson in my class. Beautiful!

  8. Great website! I actually own the Dynamic Art Projects and A Work of Heart, both great! Especially the Dynamic book, though, I've used several of their lessons and most are very successful, it's great to see the free ones and preview the actual pages.

  9. I'm the Editor of Fun Family Crafts and wanted to let you know that we have featured your project! You can see it here:

    If you have other kid-friendly craft tutorials, we'd love for you to submit them. Thanks for a great project idea!

  10. I found this project modified a bit to cut down on the time it takes to complete. Here is the address:
    Since I meet my kids once a for 90 minutes. Her solution was to start on black construction paper. this takes out the black painting. I tried it, and it looked beautiful. Jennifer G.

  11. could you just use crayons instead of pastels? They're soooo messy.