Simple and Impressive Planet Art

By Brent Vasicek on April 27, 2011
  • Grades: 3–5, 6–8, 9–12

My art skills were arrested at about the 4th grade level: My students can attest to that! So, when I was able to produce a pretty impressive planet scene in under 15 minutes, I was very proud of myself. When I told my students that I used spray paint to do it, they were impressed as well.

 

Planet Art

A former instructor once shared this art activity with me. I believe he learned it on a visit to NASA. The students love it! Plus it gets rid of those old cans of spray paint that people tend to accumulate in their garages.

This activity is perfect for . . .

  • kicking off or celebrating a science astronomy unit
  • creating some impressive art to decorate the hallways (especially during conference week)
  • stimulating fiction writing about make-believe planets
  • illustrating nonfiction writing about real planets

 

Pre-Planning

  • Ask students to bring in several cans of spray paint. They may be partially full. The more colors, the better. I recommend that parents physically bring the paint to school so there is no question about the students' intentions if they're caught with a spray paint can in their backpack. Vasicek Paint
  • You will definitely go through a lot of black paint, so be sure there is plenty of that. I would recommend five cans of black for a class of 25–30 students.
  • Gather some poster board, plastic bags (the ones from the grocery store checkout), and paper bowls, paper plates, dixie cups, and other circular objects of various sizes.
  • Give parents a day's notice so the students are not wearing their best clothes on the day you spray paint.
  • Pick a sunny day with relatively little wind (five mph or under) as this activity should only be completed outside. Borrow a drying rack from the art teacher to place their completed paintings on.
  • Management Tip: I usually have the majority of the class writing about their fictitious planet while I take six to eight students at a time to the spray paint station.
  • Cleanup Tip: I usually put an old sheet on a sidewalk (Star Wars, of course) for this activity. This way you will not damage any concrete.

Vasicek Supplies 1  Vasicek Supplies 2
 

Procedure

  • Have students place their names on the back of their piece of poster board. 
  • Have them spray paint large circles on the poster board in several places. These will be the planets. Err on the side of making the circles too big rather than too little. Yes, they can do multicolor planets.
  • Have them wad up a plastic bag. While the paint is still wet, they can add texture to the planet by dabbing the wet paint with the plastic bag.
  • Cover the large circles with round objects (paper plates, bowls, cups, circles, etc.).
  • Paint the entire poster board black. Some students have a hard time holding down the spray paint nozzle for a long time. You may need to help them.
  • Remove the circles. Viola . . . instant planets. Yes, it is that easy!
  • Optional: Add some comets by taking a white spray paint can, turning it upside down, and quickly tapping the nozzle on the painting. The white paint will shoot out to the side and form a comet.
  • Leave pictures outside to dry for several hours before bringing them in. Drying them inside will create a definite odor.

 Photos: First they put large splotches of paint where the planets will be. Then they add texture with a plastic bag.

Vasicek Planets Step 1  Vasicek Planets Step 2  Vasicek Planets Step 2b

Plates are where the planets will appear after covering the entire poster board with black.

Vasicek Step 3  Vasicek Step 4

Center photo: Finished product. Right photo: Adding some comets with the white paint.

Vasicek Step 5  Vasicek Step 6  Vasicek Step 7
 

 What sort of fun, cross-curricular art projects do you do?

2I2 Trademark 2010 Vasicek To infinity and beyond,

Brent

 

2i2 is a trademark of Mr. Vasicek's class. It symbolizes living with integrity and going the extra mile.

 

 

Comments

This will be the second year I have done this project. Kids and parents love it. Last year I had a parent tell me they were going to frame it they liked it so much. I teach third grade, so this year I will get more parent volunteers to help me. last year was a bit crazy with only one helper for two Science classes.
Carol D-H

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