Who doesn’t love Dr. Seuss and Read Across America day? Right, absolutely no one. However, one must be clever to engage certain “too cool for school” middle school students around Dr. Seuss. I have long loved Dr. Seuss’s My Many Colored Days, illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher, and wanted to come up with an activity to follow a read aloud. A read aloud made engaging and accessible thanks to a document camera, that is.
I wanted to design a lesson that extended the concepts within the paintings in the book, especially the simple shapes and evolving color. My students had experimented with breaking up implied form with overlapping in a previous project. This occurs frequently within the illustrations as well.
This book is also about moods associated with the different colors. In order to engage the middle school artists, I wanted to allow for personal connections. I also wanted to give them a chance to re-evaluate the the way they perceive color.
These sound like intellectual goals, yet they were easily boiled down into a very manageable, hugely successful project that can be simplified or extended to reach artists of all abilities. And it involves hand tracing (as in turkey hands). How fun.
Students traced their hands at least five times, making sure they had created at least ten shapes with overlapping. They then colored in each shape with marker and outlined the hand shapes with a silver Sharpie. Students were encouraged to look at each color and consider words to describe how the color makes them feel and write the “mood”word on the colored shape with silver Sharpie. The last step was to cut around the shapes eliminating the background. EZPZ!
I love the adjectives and nouns the artists chose for their “Mood Palettes”, words like “clever”, “stoic”, “creative”. The big plan is to group them together on mural paper to create a large collaborative piece. With a warm up exercise, the read aloud and the project, this lesson took two fifty-minute blocks. I used this as a sub plan because I had to be out one of the four days, otherwise tempera cakes would have been used to fill in the solid areas of color. With markers it is an easy sub plan. Enjoy!