Early Childhood Studio Lesson
Iwanted to share with my
the joy of Claude Monet’s
gardens while also teaching them about reflection
and symmetry. I have always
enjoyed Monet’s interest in
repeating the same subject
matter at various times of the
day and his preoccupation
with the way light affects the
actual color of an object.
for a bridge and a body of water and
its bank. Inspired by the character
Linnea, the students also drew a
self-portrait on the bridge. Using
watercolor markers, students col-
ored in their drawing, starting with
the larger areas first. Keep in
mind that any blank spaces on
the paper will also be present
on the bottom half when the
liquid starch is applied.
From 1899 until his death in
1926, Monet painted a series
of watercolor landscapes of his
water lily garden and Japanese
bridge in Giverny, France.
Monet eventually abandoned
the banks entirely as subject matter and concentrated
solely on the water. These
paintings, particularly The
Water Lilies, show a surface
in which the shimmering
reflections of sky and trees
blend into the floating water
Children are always fascinated
with reflections in water, so teaching about Monet seemed like a
natural fit with my kindergarten
students. In this lesson, my students created a watercolor marker
drawing on one half of a paper, then
printed its mirror image onto the
other half using liquid starch.
Creating the Reflection
At the beginning of the next
time we met, we were ready
for the liquid starch application. On the bottom half, the
students generously (but not to
the point of soaking) painted
the starch on the paper. Then
they folded the paper together
and rubbed the back of the
Don’t rub too hard or long
as the starch may dry and seal
the halves together. When
the students open the paper,
the reflection will be made
and magic is discovered. The
liquid starch makes the water-
color markers act like a mono-
print and the symmetrical
image is wonderfully produced
on the opposite side of the
paper. Encourage students to
talk about the excitement of
creating a reflection. Ask them if
nese Bridge. We also discussed how they think Monet might have felt
each painting looked different at the same about his work.
different times of the day. Lastly, we
discussed the botanical elements in Resources
the garden. Bjork, Christina. Linnea in Monet’s
Garden. Stockholm: Raben &
Sjorgren Publishers, 1987.
Linnea in Monet’s Garden. First
Run Features, 1999.
Beginning to Draw
I gave each student a 12 x 18"
( 30 x 46 cm) paper folded in half.
Students drew their own bridges,
Finding Inspiration ponds, lily pads, trees, and other
To begin the lesson, students were garden treasures on the top half
shown the video Linnea in Monet’s of the paper. The bottom half was
Garden (a book intentionally
and DVD of the Children are always fascinated left blank (fold
same title are with reflections in water, the bottom half
also available). so teaching about Monet to the back and They discussed out of the way).
how reflections seemed like a natural fit. I guided
of water are the students to
created, looking at reproductions of create a horizon line in the middle
Monet’s Water Lilies and The Japa- of the top half of the paper, ensur-
ing there would be enough room
Laura Petrovich-Cheney is a K– 6 visual
arts teacher at the Clifton Avenue Grade
School in Lakewood, New Jersey.
Students explore and understand
prospective content for works of art.