Desert habitat paintings

16 Mar

Each year our third graders study habitats (also known as biomes) in the science lab, in the General Ed classroom, and in the art room. These colorful watercolor paintings are our contribution to the habitat unit.

We began by looking at All about Deserts (Question & Answer Books)by John Sanders and Patti Boyd.


The book was full of fun facts and charming illustrations. We looked carefully at the desert landscape illustrations and identified foreground, middle ground and background. I emphasized that to create a sense of depth, items in the foreground should appear larger and more detailed while items in the background should appear smaller. I modeled several simple line drawings so they could get the hang of it.

We used just three materials: sulphite drawing paper, black crayons, and pan watercolor. We created the black crayon drawing on day one and painted it on day two.

Third grade results:


I am happy to report that this project was highly successful with the third graders.



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6 Responses to “Desert habitat paintings”

  1. Charmaine March 16, 2014 at 12:59 pm #

    Love all the color! So many times kids think of deserts as dry and brown…with camels and an occasional lizard. These are beautiful!
    Charmaine recently posted..New blog…new addressMy Profile

    • Rina Vinetz March 20, 2014 at 10:05 am #

      Hi Charmaine. So glad you like the project. Kids could choose a night sky, sunny sky or sunset. That really helped bring color and life to the paintings.

  2. Hope knight March 16, 2014 at 4:51 pm #

    Love the desert landscapes and the color schemes your kids chose!
    Hope knight recently posted..Mosaic Collographs, 3rd gradeMy Profile

    • Rina Vinetz March 19, 2014 at 3:46 pm #

      Hi Hope. Students are so creative. I used Prang pan watercolor , took out the black and popped in magenta. Plus some old Crayola pans. They turned out great!

  3. Kathy Olson March 16, 2014 at 7:19 pm #

    Beautiful, Rina! I might try watercolor next time. I’ve been doing tempera in the background, middleground, foreground and then oil pastel for the plants and animals.

    • Rina Vinetz March 19, 2014 at 3:41 pm #

      Hi Kathy

      I’m all for what ever is beautiful, quick and neat :) tempera would be beautiful too.

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