Friday, January 6, 2012

Zip, Zap, Zoom, Boom, Pop, Pow!

This is a favorite lesson for my 2nd graders, focusing on the fun artist, Roy Lichtenstein! We look at a variety of his pop art images, and learn about his use of Ben-day dots, and primary colors. We even look at cartoons with a magnifying glass to see how the colors are made by using tiny dots, and we notice how everything is outlined in black.

This year, our little school has just two classes at the 2nd grade level, and I couldn't decide which of 2 versions of this lesson I wanted to do. So I did both!

One class created comic book style words,

and the other class imitated Lichtenstein's simple landscapes, with suns, sun rays, mountains or hills, and clouds.

The kids started with a simple pencil drawing, and then painted ONLY the places they wanted yellow. Brushes were washed, and students then painted with red, and then finally with blue, leaving white spaces as desired. Note: The kids painting words were instructed that the whole word should be the same color to be easy to read.

In our next class, students painted their Ben-day dots by stamping with the eraser of a new pencil (we used those awful cheap pencils that do not sharpen well!) Our final step was to outline everything with black. We used slightly watered down tempera, and painted with cotton swabs.

Here's the whole bunch of them, filling two bulletin boards in the hallway.


  1. Oh, WOW!! These are spectacular. I love the organization of having kids paint one color at a time. Also, I wouldn't have thought to have them add the black with swabs -- GENIUS!! I want to try this later in the year!!!!! Thanks.

  2. Very cool. And they have great impact all displayed together!

  3. Christie, I know you like lessons you can complete in one session, so be aware, you CANNOT do this all at once! I see my kiddos twice in a 6-day cycle, so that helps, but this actually took one session longer than I had planned. We started them before Christmas and then had to finish them AFTER vacation.

    I actually put ONLY the yellow paint out to start, and then handed out red, and then blue, and removed the yellow from the tables so they could NOT dip back in it after they used other colors. And we used our "ugly sponges" - some oval sponges that are not a good composition for washing tables, so we use them instead for wiping extra paint off of brushes before and after washing them (my mantra: "wipe,wash,wipe!").

  4. I love the landscapes....super fun! :)

  5. Great idea to tell about Liechtenstein in combination with cartoons. I did a lesson on cartoons too, once, but this one is definitely worth to be done too! Thanks.

  6. Love these. I agree the cartoon with magnifying glass is hands on and a lot of fun! Theres something about the white clouds on the landscape that is really beautiful. I think the contrast of the white and the curvy shape. Great work. Very sophisticated 2nd graders!

  7. I'm planning something similar too - I have a great DVD that you might like called "Who Is The Artist?" with 3 pop artists to compare - Warhol, Lichtenstein, and Thiebaud. My 4th graders took notes and really enjoyed being able to name the artist in the quiz at the end.

  8. I love the idea of doing the dots with a pencil eraser! I just started a project on onomatopoeia words with my 3rd graders (based on Lichtenstein), and I hadn't thought of a good way to do dots, but I might do this with them! The students are still in the planning stage (choosing a word a sketching out their bubble letters, etc.), so there is time to make changes :). Thanks so much for sharing!

    ~Jessica (

  9. Love it! Words and landscapes look great. Love the idea of stamping with new eraser. Last time I taught this lesson I bought Bazooka gum just for the cartoons. Not sure if the gum is still around anymore!

  10. Well, Phyl, I can't add too much more to all of the great comments people have written except to say that this will be a great project to reinforce the Primary colors with my 2nd grade students. And who doesn't like a litle ZAP! BOOM! BAM!?


  11. Nice, Phyl. Bet the kiddos had fun writing the words too - and the work really makes an impact displayed together. You are too cool for words. Except maybe...WOW!

  12. I love this lesson and I am going to give it a go tomorrow for Primary Art Club! I am wondering if I should have letter stencils for some of the Grade One students? I really would rather they create their own letters - maybe I will have some of the younger students paint their word with yellow (with a wide brush) and then outline it later when the paint is dry. Thanks for this great idea and student samples - they are awesome! The display of all the pieces is fabulous!

    1. @ Ms. Sinclair - I don't use any stencils. I like the idea of painting their letters with a wide brush and then outlining later, though. Good idea! Let me know how it goes.......

  13. My kids love coming to your blog to find art projects to try! Recently, they asked to create art using onomatopoeia and my oldest son remembered seeing the comic book style paintings your students did and suggested we try something like it. I wrote about it on the blog I JUST started so you can see how they did.

    A lot of your ideas have inspired some great lessons and fun creative times for our homeschool! We definitely appreciate you for sharing those ideas =)

  14. I like your ideas for very young kids! great job


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