Project Review: Artist, Explorer, Scientist

1/2nd Grade Artists in Canada  learn about John Audubon and create a drawing and print accurately describing an animal of their choice.

The Project: In the project ‘Artist, Explorer, Scientist‘, student artists study the ornithologist John Audubon, who explored early America, documenting new species of birds. He turned his studies into beautiful watercolor prints.

Students create scientific sketches of an animal figurine, study its habitat, and then create prints from it. This project is designed to deepen understanding around birds, a common literacy topic. It can also engage students who are learning about flowers/pollination, different animal habitats or environments, and it supports learning about scientific inquiry.


Mrs. Leckie teaches a 1/2 split at Kew Beach P.S. in Toronto, ON. Her school is located in an area of the city called, ‘The Beaches’ and classes are lucky enough to take advantage of Lake Ontario for all sorts of learning.

Each classroom teacher is responsible for delivering their own Visual Art program as outlined in the Ontario curriculum for The Arts. We are responsible for delivering roughly 75 minutes a week of Visual Arts instruction. I use Doodles Academy projects spaced out as one lesson a week for the majority of my Art instruction.

Alignment with Science: During this project the students were blown away by John Audubon’s detailed drawings. My students had so much fun using breyers and seeing the results of their prints on paper. More,this lesson tied in perfectly with our Science curriculum on Living Things for grade ones and Growth and Changes in Animals for the grade twos.  I loved how well it aligned with what we were already doing in science. We used the app, PebbleGo to research the animal’s habitats and find information to support the details in our drawings, and students really loved making field notes in their sketch books while researching on PebbleGo.
Modifications: One obstacle was children choosing cute dogs (like a Yorkshire Terrier) and then having a hard time researching their habitat. I think I would leave dog out of the options if I did it next time. This project ran smoothly, but the final lesson, print-making, took a little longer than our average time block. We needed closer to an hour and a half to watch the video, tape our drawing to the styrofoam, press hard enough with pen, have enough paint each time to make an appropriate print, then tidy up! But, students loved seeing their print appear.

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