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This lesson plan explores finger painting with sophistication and a video




4, 5  

Title – Fingerpainting with Sophistication

By – Stephanie Slatner

Primary Subject – Art

Grade Level – 4-5

Number of Students: 21

Concept/Goal: Inspiration for a work of art can come from the medium being used.

Activity: Students will create a finger painting with a new more sophisticated outlook.

Tools; Special Equipment; Supplies: Finger paints and paper, small pan of water, paper towels, Popsicle sticks, damp washcloth

Lesson Design: This is a two-part lesson based on a new way of finger painting. The first day we will watch part of the video of MaryAnn Brandt and we will do at least one finger painting using only one color. The next class we will spend the whole class time exploring the medium of finger-paints. Based on how the first day goes, the second lesson will or will not follow. If the students hate the idea of getting their hands messy, we may just leave it as a one-day lesson. I will just have to see how the students react.

Anticipatory Set/Motivation: (


I will first talk about a new way of thinking about finger painting and express to them how you should always keep your mind open for new ideas of how to create art. We will watch the first 15 minutes of the video and then I have a few questions to ask to make sure that they were paying attention and to see if they picked up on the little subtleties of what Mary Ann Brandt has done to change the way we think of finger paint.

MaryAnn Brandt says about finger painting, “I am often asked how I got into finger painting, and why I stayed with it. I first tried it twenty-five years ago in a Jungian dream group; I stayed with it because it provided more personal satisfaction than years with traditional methods.

Getting my hands into the paint and moving it around feels good. There is a spontaneous and personal connection between what is going on inside and what is about to happen outside on the paper. The ancient Chinese artist believed his spirit flowed out through his fingertips … that he instilled a part of his soul in each painting, Chih-hua – expression of the spirit. I agree.

I usually start without a plan or subject in mind and try to bypass conscious intention, to just let things happen. Choosing colors which please or excite me at the time, I start at the top and work down allowing things to evolve; getting clues from what I see emerging – the color balance, the color blending, the strokes and shapes made by my fingers. Sometimes an image appears and seems to say, ‘Here I am and this is what you are to do with me.’ When this happens and I move with it, it feels so right.'”

Modeling/Demonstration: I will talk about how to keep it as clean as possible while exploring this medium. I will show MaryAnn Brandt’s steps on how she starts and what she does while she’s painting. First you put a few drops of water onto the table and let the paper settle, this way it will not slip around once you start painting. Then I will tell them to wet the entire paper with a little coating of water, then add paint starting at the top of the paper. All of this is repeated from having already watched the video where she explains her steps in this process.

Guided Practice/Independent Practice: Students will only be given one color to work with to make a monochromatic painting just to experiment with the medium. The second lesson they will be given all of the colors so that they can further the creative process.

Cleanup: This will take a while because this is a messy medium. Luckily, all of the 5th grade classes are back to back so anything left on the tables can be cleaned up after the students leave for the day. I will ask one person from each table to get a sponge and wipe down the tables as best as they can while the others line up to leave. By doing this, I will only have 6 walking back a forth rather than 20. Washing hands will have to be done by table, and there are two sinks to make the process a little faster.

Closure: At the end of class we will talk about what we liked and disliked about this medium, and whether or not this changes the way they think about fingerpaint.


Stephanie Slatner


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