This is a guest post from Shelly. Shelly is a home educating parent of two children aged 6 and 9. She blogs at ofamily learning together where she shares ideas on the different learning activities that they do including lots of hand-on Maths, arts and crafts and anything else that is part of their home educating lifestyle.
We love using templates in our art projects. The templates allow the kids to create pictures of scenes that they might otherwise struggle to draw. They allow the kids to focus on the painting, the mixing of colours and blending without getting frustrated by their drawing. And the more the kids trace around the templates the more they naturally start to get that understanding that the birds wings curve in a certain way or that most animal faces are more oval than round.
We love our templates so much that I tend to print ours out on card, so that the kids can use them over and over again for multiple projects. We have all our old templates stored together in a folder so that the kids can reuse them whenever they want.
Here are links to all the templates we used in the projects below:
A selection of the Activity Village templates that we use
One of the ways we like using our templates is with watercolour paints. I love using watercolours with kids because they are so easy to clean up afterwards (my kids always leave a mess after painting and the watercolour paint always comes out of their clothes) and it is natural way for the kids to learn about colour mixing. When the yellow blends into the blue sky the kids will see the sky become a green shade. (If you don’t have watercolours you can use acrylic paint).
We normally start our template paintings by tracing around our templates. The tracing itself is a great activity for the kids to do as it encourages them to engage both hands but with younger kids it does help to use some sticky tack to stick the templates down so that they do not move while they are doing the tracing.
Tracing around the rhino template
Once the kids are happy with the position of their templates we like to start with painting the backgrounds. We normally just do big washes of colour for this and if the kids want to add details like trees or flowers to the background they come back and add that a bit later.
Painting the background with watercolours
We let the background dry a bit, just to help stop all the wet colours mixing when they are not supposed to. And then we get on to painting the actual figure that they traced using the templates. And there you have a simple yet effective watercolour painting!
Butterfly template painting on a watercolour background
If the kids wanted to add more details they could try bringing in shadows, perhaps by making the edges of the wings of the animal / bird / insect a bit darker and then blend it to a lighter shade in the centre.
Swallows painted with templates on a watercolour background, with shadow effects
And just because you are using realistic templates does not mean the kids have to stick to using realistic colours – my youngest loves painting rainbow animals!
Rainbow animals painted with templates!
When the kids have finished using the templates for their paintings, why not get out some oil pastels or crayons and let the kids rub over the templates with the thick side of the pastel or crayon? My son loves this!
Rubbing over the template with pastels
It is super quick and another fun way for the kids to use the templates.
Our finished rhino painting