For the Fine Arts component of our Frogs & Ponds Unit Study, we are focusing on Monet’s Water Lilies. I’m a novice in art history, so this is fun for me, too! For instance, I didn’t know that during the later years of his life, Monet painted the pond near his home over 250 times — and this collection of paintings is now know as Water Lilies.
I must have flowers always and always. –Monet
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Water Lilies Craft Project Materials
- Crayola washable tempera paint: blue, cyan, and green
- Watercolor paper
- Large children’s paint brushes
- Painting aprons
- Paint tray
Water Lilies Art Lesson Resources
- Monet Water Lily printable painting
- Steph Hathaway Designs Pond Unit Study printable poster & water lily info card
- The Arts: A Visual Encyclopedia
- Linnea in Monet’s Garden
- Monet free printable art collection
- Monet free artist study printable
Our Water Lilies Craft Project
This craft project is not my original idea — a quick Pinterest search will give you many variations of the same concept. Keep reading to learn our spin on it!
We took two days to create our water lilies craft project. If you are better organized than I am or have older children, you could probably do this all in one day.
On the first day, we started by looking at a Monet water lilies painting that I had printed out and laminated ahead of time (laminating is the best chance of survival for any paper against my 2yo right now). I asked the kids to look at the painting, tell me what they saw, and point at the colors they could identify.
Next, we used the pond painting and water lily card by Stephanie Hathaway to learn more about lily pads and get a second perspective of how they grow in a pond.
For lily pad leaves, we cut out heart shapes from green construction paper in various sizes. And by “we” I really mean me — since using scissors is a skill my 2 and 3 year olds still need to master (and I wasn’t brave enough to work on it). Why hearts got lily pads? Well, my daughter thought they looked like hearts in the Monet painting, so I thought, “Why not?”
Then we took out cupcake liners to the kitchen. We dyed them pink using gel food coloring in a bowl of water. My kids took turns submersing and swishing the liners in the pink water. When the liner seemed mostly covered in pink, we set them to dry on a cutting board.
Our next step was to paint our ponds. After looking again at the Monet painting, I asked the kids to tell me what colors they needed for the pond, and they chose two shades of blue and green. I put these colors in a paint tray, tied aprons on the kids, and handed out brushes and watercolor paper. The thick paper really makes a difference for keeping messes under control since my 2 year old can get really excited with his paint…
I asked the kids to look again at the painting and notice the strokes of color. We tried to mimic the strokes with our brushes, at least in a general way.
Lewis decided playing peek-a-boo with painted hands was way more fun than working on his picture. With attention spans flagging, I hung the paintings to dry, and that was the end of Day 1!
On the following day, the process was much simpler. I helped the kids squeeze glue onto the back of their heart-shapes lily pads and place them on their paintings. Then, we folded the dyed cupcake holders in half and then in half again, forming triangle with a rounded side. I stapled the point of the triangle to the lily pad, and then the kids fluffed our their lilies!
Honestly, this project turned out way cuter than I had imagined. Sometimes crafts with preschoolers can end up being incredibly frustrating, but we actually had fun!
Based on this experience (and previous not-so-great experiences), here are a few tips that might help when attempting crafts with littles:
- Identify your goal — and no, I don’t mean how you want the project to turn out. What is your goal for your kids? Since perfectionism is a flaw of mine that can drench the fun out of any project, I intentionally focused on the process over the product. My goal was for my kids to touch, see, and create art in a way that made them LOVE it.
- Let the kids do it — seriously hard for a perfectionist, but for reals, let the kid do it. It’s his painting after all. After giving a framework of directions, I continually have to back away and ask my kids how they want to do something. It’s good problem solving and decision making for me, which helps build confidence both in their abilities as young artists and in the power and relevance of their choices.
- Take your time — really, really take it slowly. This project could have been a nightmare for us if we had attempted to speed through it. But it worked really well when we just took it one step at a time. Spreading it over two days also helped build curiosity, patience, and a greater sense of accomplishment for the kids.
Oh, and one last time. Do yourself a favor, mama, and buy high quality washable paint. I am now a Crayola advocate after a few bad encounters with “washable” off brand paint that was most definitely Not Washable. *facepalm*
I hope you find this little tutorial helpful. I’d love to see your versions of this project if you do it. Please tag me @greenurbanmama on Instagram so we can all share in applauding your artistry!