3rd graders had a wonderful time painting their gym shoes, but were mostly amazed at discovering their ability to draw so well! Here’s how we did it…

Materials: Student grade watercolor paper 18×24, pencils, large erasers, black permanent markers, pan watercolors 2 students per set, assorted brushes – round and flat, mixing plates, water containers, paper towels.

1. Have students trace around 1 of their shoes in the center of the page. It works best if they lay the shoe with the inside on the paper for stability.

2. Now that they have a “template” to work from they will spend an hour or so adding all the details with in the template. Here is where they wish they had picked a boring shoe so it would be less work 🙂

3. Next I showed them lots of ways to put their shoe in a “context”. Inside, outside, under a bed, walking their dog, playing in puddles, etc. I offer up all kinds of possibilities so they make it their own. We talk about perspective and point of view.

4. When the drawing is complete students use permanent marker and trace over all the lines carefully and then erase the entire page leaving only the outlines from the marker.

5. Using pan watercolors, paint each section neatly. Here they may mix and apply color as they wish. No need to use actual colors if they choose to experiment with color. I show them how to mix colors and work wet-into-wet for puddles. We also learn how to mix a  variety of flesh tones.

6. I allow 4-5 45 minute class periods for this project.

Aren’t they IMPRESSIVE!