IF YOU WOKE UP CHRISTMAS MORNING TO FIND A NEW PET PEEKING OUT OF YOUR STOCKING, WHAT ANIMAL WOULD YOU HOPE TO FIND?
This was the prompt I asked my students right before Thanksgiving break.I explained that when I was a little girl, I would lay in bed at night and WISH that I would wake up in the morning to find a new cuddly little pet peeking up at me from its little cage. I would pray that the sweet little new hamster or baby bunny would arrived equipped with all of its food, toys and accessories.
I made a list of animals after they wrote them down and printed out a bunch of 'cute animal' visuals for them to reference. I also had them do some mini sketches to practice drawing the animal peeking out of a stocking. I opted for cute versions of the animals for my students to look at---as this project verges on toy versions of realism, and really appeals to my 5th grade students. The 6th graders are proud of their work, but weren't as sold on the project initially.
The day we started, I had the cute visuals---clip art (simply drawn versions of cheetahs, sharks, horses, and it was helpful to have several varieties of dogs since some have snouts and others have snub noses.) I also had a few color prints hanging up that showed sad, big eyed-animals. We talked about the white highlight in the eyes, how that helped give the animal a lifelike quality.
Students drew their animal on 9X18 gray paper with white chalk. The nice thing about the chalk, is that it forced them to draw big and it also erases more easily than pencil, which can tend to leave a groove in the paper when they press hard with their pencil and attempt to erase, sometimes it still shows up when they switch to oil pastels.
I also had several 2" circles punched out of tagboard on the table and I encouraged my students to trace the circles for the eyes. For this project, I encouraged students to draw the eyes really big. The eyes were a little unnatural, and many of the animals look a little bit like stuffed toys---which I think is good for this particular project.
TIP: Once students start coloring with oil pastels, I stressed to them that they should do ALL of the white first. Especially if their pet has a LOT of white, like a panda or a fox, because if they do the black first, it smears really bad! Also, if they are planning to trace the mouth or the nose with black, save that for last, after they color the fur around that area with another color, so it doesn't smear.
Here is the paper, the tray of chalk+tagboard circles. I used my 2" punch to create the tracers. This size circle worked really well for this size paper.
I posted steps 1-3 on the board and added 4-5 the 2nd day.
1. Trace the eyes. Use chalk. (save room for ears/hat above the eyes)
2. Draw details and add a stocking.
3. Color with oil pastels.
4. Cut out.
5. Glue to black paper, put name on black paper.
Tip: Make sure eye highlight is white. The reflection needs to be white or else it looks strange.
This is how they looked after day 1.
Lots of foxes. Some had time to color the eyes. Some waited until the 2nd day to color the eyes. I encouraged them to do the eyes open, but the closed eyes are pretty cute too. Also, I suggested that they use multiple colors to make realistic textures. Some students spent a long time drawing, so they did not get as much colored. If they made the animal too big to squeeze the stocking on the same page, I let them use a 2nd piece for the stocking. The paws were optional.
On the last day, we finished coloring, and cut out the animals, gluing them to a simple black background. This was all that some had time for, if they spent a lot of time designing the stocking or were slower at coloring. I had a few Christmas coloring pages for early finishers.
Students loved this project because pretty much any animal was approved...sharks, spiders, and peacocks were all welcome, and only a little bit of the head/shoulders had to peek out of the stocking. They were able to decorate and customize the stockings, and add toys/accessories, candy canes, hats, bows and anything else they wanted to make their image.
One or two students that do not celebrate Christmas did not have to include the stocking, they could just draw the animal peeking out of its home or something. I would love another alternative if you have an idea, please leave it in the comments!