Ezra Jack Keats was a Caldecott Medal-winning picture book author and illustrator. His books include Peter's Chair, Whistle for Willy, and the timeless classic The Snowy Day. Use these activities and lessons to introduce students to Keats's work.
- Picture books by four or five distinctive illustrators
- Art materials
- Chart paper and marker
Children will explore book illustration and their own artistic abilities with this creative activity.
Collect books by four or five different illustrators. The illustrators you choose should have distinctive styles that children would not have too much trouble emulating. Among others, you might consider Ezra Jack Keats (cutouts and collages), Dr. Seuss (fanciful characters), Lois Ehlert (bold, bright colors), and Crockett Johnson (simple line art).
1. Share picture books with children by four or five different illustrators. As they look through the books, encourage children to discuss the illustrations. What differences and similarities do they notice?
2. Write the names of the illustrators across the top of a large piece of chart paper. As children discuss the illustrators, begin writing their comments on the chart paper under the appropriate illustrator's name. Continue the discussion with questions such as the following: What sort of materials do they think the illustrators used? (Collage materials? Crayons? Paints? Markers?) What sort of colors? (Bright colors? Dark colors? All red and blue?) Do the illustrations look "real"? Ask them what words come to mind when they look at the illustrations — funny, scary, pretty, colorful?
3. Invite children to create a drawing in the style of one of the illustrators you have been studying. Ask each child to think about which illustrator's style he would like to attempt. Remind children that you are not expecting them to copy an illustration or create something that looks exactly like the illustrator would draw. They are creating their own work.
4. Set out art materials. You might want to keep the books on a low shelf or easel opened to an illustration so children can refer to them. (Remind children that they should be careful about touching the books if they have paint or glue on their hands.)
5. After children have created their drawings, encourage them to share their work with their classmates. Ask each child about the illustrator who inspired her. Why did she choose this particular illustrator?
Science: Colors Light and Dark
Provide watercolors children can use to experiment with making dark colors lighter and light colors darker. As children work, encourage them to talk about different color combinations that can be made by mixing the water colors, how different images can be created by adding more/less water to paints, and how moving the paper as they drip paint on the page can result in a host of different effects.