Art+Science: Rocks and Soil (2nd grade) session 4 / Finding and drawing rocks

Arts Integration Residency with Montalvo Arts Center in Campbell, CA.

We started the session with a look at the paintings on the wall. We had a short discussion; there were some comparisons between the landscapes made by the different classes (6 in total).

Before we went outside, I explained what the idea with the session’s exercise was: we are artists and naturalists, we are going to try to look at the rock(s) we will find outside with a lot of attention.

“Do you think it is possible to find two rocks strictly identical?”
I drew an example with a rock I had in front of me.
I gave them the choice to work with a Sharpie or an extra-smooth graphite pencil or both – They could make several drawings if they wanted to (and they did!).

We went outside to explore an area where we could find rocks. I asked them if they knew where the rocks come from – got some good responses: they come from the mountain they just painted, the Santa Cruz mountains they can see in their landscape. It was a long time ago, the mountain is very old and lost a lot of rocks. The place where we found the rocks at school is not covered by any construction and was apparently not changed (I showed the area to my mom when she came and she said it looks pretty much untouched). So it is interesting because there is this small area of “natural space”.

Each student selected one or two rock(s).

Then drawing session –




We went back to the class, each student carrying 2 rocks they chose. (Next session we’ll wash them and we’ll see beautiful colors appear. We will make a painting of a few of them).

We looked at all the drawings for a few minutes. The discussion was about finding interesting things in the drawings and saying why.

It was fun and the kids did an amazing job at really looking and drawing!

Art+Science: Rocks and Soil (2nd grade) session 5 / Painting the rocks

Arts Integration Residency with Montalvo Arts Center in Campbell, CA.

Here’s what happened during session 5 this week.
One by one the students washed the rocks they brought back at the end of the last session, from the place at school which is non-constructed and not landscaped. All the rocks have interesting shapes and after washing them the students could see that the rocks have interesting colors too.
Meanwhile the other students started a drawing of their rock(s).

Then I gave them a short demo about how to find different shades of tan/brownish colors, starting with a palette of blue/red/yellow [in each class one or two students knew about the primary colors)] and white. I added some black to help them make very dark greys. I also showed them how to try to follow the contour they traced with the pencil, so that once painted we can still see the interesting shape of the rock – that’s the most difficult part!


The session was about observing closely the rocks and mixing little by little the paint to match the colors with the colors of the rocks. The students had a lot of fun mixing but were concentrated enough to get beautiful and different shades of grey-browns.
At the end of the class, the rocks have been put in lunch bags with the names of the students and will be re-used during the next session.
This week we talked a lot about colors and shades/tints. Next week we need to make a stronger link with the students’ sciences studies (can we identify the rocks found at school and tell if they are metamorphic, igneous or sedimentary?).Some of the students are becoming attached to their rocks and have asked if they can bring them to their home!

Art+Science: Rocks and Soil (2nd grade) session 7 / Finishing to paint the rocks – going outside drawing trees

Arts Integration Residency with Montalvo Arts Center in Campbell, CA.

During the first part of the session, the students finished the painting of their rock(s). I gave a short demo, showing how the first drawing can disappear under the paint, the paint was not necessarily controlled and it is OK, but it is always possible to draw over the paint and change the shape again. The motto for this session was – do not follow what the brush did, you can change it the shape again.
And then, if they wanted to, the students could paint in white parts of the painting they did not want to be visible. That part was tricky because the students had a tendency to cover with the white the drawing they had just made, loosing their nice tracing again. But it does not matter, what I wanted to show them is a layering technique where things can always be changed. For the 6 classes, I had to prepare different steps for my short demo, so that they saw me doing what I was explaining. But I needed 3 steps for each class, 18 paintings of a rock at different stages.

During the second part of the session, we went outside to draw a tree.
Before going outside I asked them “What is soil made of?”. They are learning about Rocks and Soil in Science and that’s the program we are following. They knew about the rocks which are eroding and giving minerals to the soil. The rest was not obvious but the students in pretty much each class found all the different elements. We talked about the living organisms, the plants, the animals that either are alive or dead and what happens to them. And now the question is: “And what does that soil do?” it grow plants! All sorts of plants, the plants which decorate the streets, the plants in the forest, the trees and all the plants we eat.It is just amazing! I tell the students that I am still amazed by the fact that a seed can become a tree taller than a house!
So let’s see one of those trees, there is one just outside the classroom. It is unique. Let’s pay attention to its shape, to its trunk and main branches. How is it structured? Does the branches grow equally around? Is one side more developped? Drawing on white paper, with a soft pencil and/or a sharpie.

At the end of session we looked at all the drawing. And we talked about what we like and most importantly why.