PAINT A RAINFOREST
About the Activity
In this activity, kids will combine science and painting to learn about jungles, rainforests, and the world around them. They will learn watercolors, oil pastels, and how they work together to create a unique jungle scene.
Courtesy of Utah State University
- Red, yellow, and blue watercolor paint
- Watercolor paper
- Water cups
- Paint brushes
- Scratch paper
- Oil pastels
- Watercolor pans
- Watercolor pencils
- Color wheel link
- Colored paper (all colors of color wheel)
- Learn About Jungles
Jungles are part of the rainforest ecosystem. Something that sets rainforests apart from other ecosystems is the amount of rainfall they receive - up to 260 inches of rain a year or over four feet of water! This rain helps create an environment that is prime for plants, which is why rainforests are so green and have dense vegetation.There are two types of rainforests: temperate and tropical. This activity focuses on tropical rainforests, which can be found in Brazil, Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands, and West Africa. Jungles fall into the category of tropical rainforests, and that is the type of scene you will create in the steps below.
- Start Your Jungle Scene
- First draw some green leafy designs on the paper in oil pastels. Use multiple shades of green.
- Color only the outline of the leaf, do not color in the whole leaf.
- Next, add in some pops of color. These make a point in the paper where your eye is drawn. This is called the focus.
- Fill up the paper with drawings of leaves and flowers. Remember to just draw the outline of the leaves and flowers; do not fill them in. The interior of the flowers and leaves will be filled in with water colors.
- Decorate the cover of the book with photos or drawings of food. Include the title of the book and your name.
- Set your paper aside until after they have learned about the watercolors in step 3.
- Learn about the basics of color theory here.
- Display nine colored circles (primary, secondary and tertiary). Pick out the three primary colors and set them apart from the rest. Then, pick out the secondary colors and place them in their respective spots next to the appropriate primary color. Place the remaining tertiary colors in their correct spot. (Remember, the colors on the color wheel are always in the same order because this is the way colors are mixed together.)
- Next, mix watercolor paint to create a color wheel. Using the paint palettes, paint the three primary colors first.
- Next, mix the secondary colors on the pallete to create the tertiary colors.
- Put those colors onto the color wheel.
- Complete Your Jungle Scene
- Now that you understand the basics of both oil pastels and watercolors, let’s bring them together to create a jungle scene. Remember, oil and water do not mix. We are using oil pastels and water colors for that reason. The oil pastel leaves and flowers will create a border that the watercolor cannot pass through.
- Fill in your shapes with the appropriate color, and then fill in the rest of the paper with other shades of green you mixed in their color palette. The goal is to make it so there is no white on their paper.
- Mix all different shades of green so that the paper is not just one color. Use your knowledge of primary colors to create the different shades of green.
Questions for your kids and teens.
- What do these activities teach you about mixing colors?
- What makes oil pastels and water colors different?
- Why do water and oil not mix?
- Why do you think jungles are so rich in vegetation?
- How will learning about mixing colors help you in your future art projects?
- Does knowing about the basics of water and oil help you understand why some other substances won’t mix?