Warm and Cool Color Clay Rattles: 100% Success!

Warm and Cool Clay Rattles

If you are looking for a super-successful clay lesson for Kindergarteners-second grade, you’ve come to the right place. These functional clay rattles only requires a single bisque firing, and are finished with a fast and easy warm and cool color process. Students, parents and teachers loved them. I’ve included an instructional video at the end of this post – all my kindergarten students watched it and created the rattles independently.


To create the rattles:

  • Clay
  • Rolling pin and slats (or slab roller)
  • Circle template or bowl to trace
  • Pin tool
  • Texture tools (we used LEGO)
  • Toilet Paper
  • Toothbrushes and water bowls


Roll the slab and cut the circles. Cover the tables. Each table should have a tray of LEGO, one toothbrush for every two students, and small water dish. They also need a couple of squares of toilet paper and a little scrap clay.

table set up

Process is in my instructional video. This was a very effective video: 100% of KINDERGARTENERS did this project correctly and independently the first time. I strongly recommend showing this.

Coloring the rattles:


  • crayons/construction paper crayons, sorted into warm and cool colors
  • individual pans of water color
  • brushes and water cups


Students scribble on the textured ceramic with their crayons. Ideally, one side could be cool color crayons and the other warm. Then they paint over the crayons with (ideally), the opposite color scheme. This was kindergarten….some did it, some didn’t, but they all looked great.

This was a great end of year project: all my water colors had just about run out. Yet we had enough for this project. I sure look tired in this video, though. Typical for end of year…

Set-up for coloring the rattles


Do you have a sure-fire clay project for kindergarten?

Have you tried creating instructional videos?

Warm and Cool Color Fall Leaves

It’s fall – time for a fall leaf project! This lesson takes just two 40-minute sessions and covers:

  • warm and cool colors
  • stenciling
  • organic shapes
  • positive and negative space
  • symmetry


  • cardstock, cut into rectangles
  • pencils and erasers
  • scissors
  • white construction paper
  • oil pastels in warm colors (red, orange, yellow) (note: compensated affiliate link)
  • liquid watercolors in cool colors (purple, blue, green)
  • kosher salt (optional)

Leaf silhouettes


Session 1:

We looked at the silhouettes of fall leaves. We talked about the variety of leaf shapes. We discussed the difference between the organic leaf shapes and geometric shapes.

Next we created our stencils: students folded their cardstock, and drew a simple 1/2 leaf on the fold (note: don’t bother with a stem in your stencil design).

About 90% of second graders were able to design and cut a simple leaf stencil independently on their first attempt. As an alternative, you could cut stencils for your students.

Once we created the stencils we noticed they were symmetric. We also defined the leaf-shaped hole as the negative space and the leaf piece as the positive space.

Students stenciled multiple leaves . Some swapped stencils with their friends. After stenciling, they added a stem line to each leaf.

Paint leaves with cool color watercolors.

Session 2:

Students painted the leaves with liquid watercolors. They loved to see the oil pastel resist the paint. After painting, they had the option of sprinkling kosher salt on their wet art before placing their art on the drying rack.

Second grade results

Fall leaves with salt added.

Fall leaves with salt added.

The project was extremely successful. The students really enjoyed the process, and reviewed a lot of art concepts.

This lesson was inspired by  this post on Kids Art Market and this post on Use Your Colored Pencils.

Do you have a favorite fall leaves project?

‘Secret’ Rainbow Fish for Kindergarten

secret rainbow fish for kindergarten

Looking for a kindergarten art lesson? Try this line lesson based on the popular book ‘The Rainbow Fish’.

Kindergarteners create watercolor resist line art based on the book ‘The Rainbow Fish’. Allow two 40-minute classes.


  • white construction paper 12″x18″ (use paper sturdy enough for watercolor)
  • Sharpies
  • white crayons
  • watercolors: purple, blue and green (cool colors)

Day 1: Draw

Read the book The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister (or listen to it online for free!) Point out the cool colors and name any lines you see.

Using Sharpies, students draw the outline of the fish as a step-by-step. I tell students to draw a large ‘rainbow’ for the back, ‘smile’ for the belly, and triangle for the tail. We divide the body with a few vertical lines.

Kinds of Lines

Each section is filled with a different kind of line.  We use

  • spirals
  • diagonal
  • wavy
  • zig zag
  • vertical
  • horizontal
  • dotted
  • dashed

Add  SECRET (white crayon) lines

Now for the SECRET! Use the white crayon to add more lines around and in-between your black lines (the white lines are hard to see and therefore ‘secret’). For best results, encourage students to press hard with the white crayon. Tell students you will tell them the secret when we paint the fish.

Day 2: Paint

Paint with purple, blue and green watercolors. Listen to the ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ as the SECRET lines pop out from the watercolor. It is OK for colors to overlap (the cool colors mix beautifully).


Cool color watercolors and white crayon resist.

If you have extra time after clean up, read The Rainbow Fish again (or try another book in the series such as Rainbow Fish to the Rescue! or Rainbow Fish and the Big Blue Whale).


Do you have a favorite story book for kindergarten art?

NOTE: This post was updated on 9/2/13.

Cool Color Monet Water Lilies

cool color monet waterlilies

Second grade is studying the cool colors.  After watching the excellent elementary color theory DVD Getting to Know Color in Art  we looked at photos of Monet’s beautiful garden and pond in Giverny, France. Students could imagine themselves at the pond on a summer day, feeling the willows sway, listening to frogs as they rested on the lily pads, resting in the cool shade, even floating in Monsieur Monet’s ‘art boat’ as it passed under the Japanese bridge.

“Le Bassin aux nymphéas” 1899. One Monet’s many water-lily paintings.

We looked at several of Monet’s waterlily paintings, focusing on his use of cool colors and short, quick strokes of paint. You can download my Powerpoint of Monet’s garden here.

We then created an oil pastel and watercolor art work.

Allow three 40-minute sessions for this project.


  • 12×18 construction green construction paper
  • 9×12 watercolor paper
  • glue sticks
  • oil pastels in blues, greens, and purples plus white, yellow and pink
  • watercolors in blue, green and purple
  • kosher salt (optional)

Discuss Monet’s art, his pond and garden. Review cool colors. View powerpoint or photos of Monet’s garden.

Fold green construction paper ‘hamburger’ (the short way). Glue watercolor paper to lower half of green paper.

Students use oil pastel to draw bridge, water lilies and foliage.

Review painting of pond and Japanese bridge.

Oil Pastel:

Using oil purple and blue oil pastels, draw three arcs (‘rainbows’) for the Japanese bridge. Add some vertical lines to the bridge to finish. Blend and highlight with white oil pastels.

Review photos of water lilies.

Using various green and yellow oil pastels, draw clusters of lily pads on the watercolor paper. The lily pads don’t have to be perfect – just ovals or quick strokes of pastel. They should overlap a bit. Add a few pink lily flowers, highlight with white.

Fill the entire top half of the green paper with foliage in greens and yellow. Use short strokes. Add a downward cascade of short lines for the weeping willow.  Tell kids to ‘go behind’ the Japanese bridge.

Use short strokes of oil pastel to completely fill the green paper with foliage.


Using the cool colors (blue, green and purple), paint the watercolor paper using long horizontal strokes.  Colors can overlap and blend.  Go right over the oil pastel lily pads.

Use purple, blue and green watercolors on the lower half of artwork

Students may add a small pinch of Kosher salt to the wet watercolor. The salt absorbs a bit of color and an additional dimension to the pond. Brush off salt when dry.

Wow!!! This project was a hit! We learned about a famous artist, reinforced color theory, experienced the joy of painting on watercolor paper and blending pastels. All kids were very proud of their artwork. Success!




(Note: post updated 12/22/13)

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