I subbed in my former classroom for a day recently, so that the current teacher could deal with a medical concern. I had fresh lilacs growing in my yard, which, when I was still teaching, I brought in every year for a one-day lesson for my younger students, usually the first grade. I told the teacher I'd love to paint the lilacs with her students, with her permission. The 2nd grade students had just finished a project, so rather than have me start her next project for her, she gave me the go-ahead to do these paintings.
So I brought in a batch of the lilacs and put them in vases. The kids looked at and smelled the flowers, examined how they grew in bunches, and how the leaves came to a point. We looked at several different vases in the room, with various shapes, and discussed how even though each one was different from the next, the shapes were all symmetrical. Some were opaque, and some were transparent, and we looked at that, too. Then we talked about how we didn't want vases of flowers floating in the air, so we wanted to place them on a table in our drawings.
The kids drew a vase, stems, leaves, and table, using crayons on construction paper (I gave them a selection of colors of paper to choose from: lilac, pale blue, soft green, pale peach, and soft yellow. Looking at these photos, I realize that if anyone chose the yellow, somehow I didn't photograph it!)
Before the kids came in, I mixed up some tempera paints in disposable cups with various lilac colors, some with more pink, some with more blue, some lighter, and some darker. I discussed with the kids how there are many different varieties of lilacs, with colors from white to purple to pink to blue, and that they could use any of the paint on their tables for their flowers.
I gave the kids long-handled cotton swabs to paint their flowers. We noted that the tip spread out as is was used, making it easier to paint the flowers than with the small tip we began with!
We had just 40 minutes, including the time I needed, as a sub, to review the class list of names, and time to clean up. (Clean up was pretty easy, since the swabs were simply thrown away, and at the end of the day I also threw away the disposable paper paint dishes. We put the paintings in the drying rack and did a quick table cleanup and we were done!)
As a veteran art teacher, I didn't generally like to repeat all the exact same projects every year. But there were some lessons that, with some simple variations, were an annual ritual. The lilacs were one of these. There were staff members that looked forward to seeing them hanging in the hall every year, and since they were quick and easy, and made everyone happy, I loved to oblige by repeating this project. They look so fresh and spring-like, and sometimes I think I can smell the lilacs when I look at at them! Thank you to the current art teacher for allowing me and the students to have this fun break from her curriculum!