Symmetrical Beetles

Teaching Art

I was introduced to this lesson by Claire Kirk & Katie Flowers. Both amazing artists and art educators I have had the honor of knowing and working with over the years. From observational drawing and simple printmaking to integration of mathematics and science, this lesson has it all! I have facilitated the lesson both with kindergarten and with second grade. Below outlines in how the lesson is taught and facilitated with the two different age groups.

I started by finding images of different beetles on the internet and used they as reference. My partner and I then traced the halves of six different simplified beetles on A3 paper. Then we photo copied them on to thicker weight drawing paper and folded them in half to create the line of symmetry.

*For second grade, we provided a print out of half of a beetle and drew the other side by observation. The challenge was to try and match their drawing to the images.

In class, we discussed with students that artists and scientists need to look at the world around them closely. We began looking at beetles both as artists and scientists and shared observations on what we see when we look at these shiny insects.

Based on our observations, we introduced the line of symmetry and how it can help us when we are drawing beetles and bugs. We then demonstrated how to use the fold of the paper as the line of symmetry. Using black India ink and small paint brushes, watched as we painted over the lines of the beetle, folded it over and then rubbed. The paint printed to the other side to begin to create the other half of the beetle.

Student repeated this process. Kindergarteners did have to be reminded to not paint on the other side, and that they were only to trace the lines provided, work in small sessions and rub firmed to ensure their lines printed.

Once dry, students added glittery liquid watercolour inside the shapes that were created by the printing process. Students also were encouraged to add lines and shapes to create symmetrical designs as you would see on the shells of real beetles.

This same process in creating the beetles could be used for other insects, plants, and animal prints. This lesson is very obtainable for primary school students and can be adapted in many different ways to align with standards and benchmarks as well as integration goals.

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