Introduction: The Art of Weather: Creating an Artistic Weather Enviroment

About: I adore instructables and use it when I'm playing with ideas for my students (I'm a certified art teacher and the Art Director for a children's summer camp). I have found that it fuels my creative process as …

One of the fourth grade teachers I work with came to me and asked if I could come up with a lesson that involved weather for the fourth grade classes.  They were getting ready to start a unit in science involving weather as well as reading a book which discussed weather as well  I happily agreed to the challenge. 

Not only did we talk about weather, we talked about how weather in art can change mood.  How we can reuse old materials to create new art and use different unique items to create a artistic collage.

Step 1: Materials Needed

Large Sheet of Construction Paper
Popsicle sticks
White School Glue
Tag board or scratch paper
Old jeans cut into squares
Old shirts cut into squares (or extra fabric from sweing projects)
Various papers (old wrapping paper, scrap paper, brown paper sacks, tissue paper and so on)
Oil pastels
Cotton balls (water color if you want to dye them)
Any other random materials you can use, just about anything you can reuse (trash)

Step 2: Art of Weather: Lesson Plan

As I am finishing up this project with my students I may add to this lesson plan, but this was the start I created when I first was approached with this challenge.  Please feel free to ask questions and check back for changes.

: Students will look at art work depicting different types of weather from different artists and analyze what about the artwork lets them know the type of weather being seen.Students will look at photographs and clip art of various weather in fields similar in area to their home town; they will also explore the different looks of scarecrows.Students will then create a background depicting weather, a middle ground with a multimedia scarecrow, and foreground of various farm and field items.Students will then critique each others work and we will discuss if the artist goals were met.

(May vary from your state) STATE STANDARD(S):


Standard 1: Understanding and Applying Media, Techniques, and Processes


Standard 4: Earth and Space Science

Standard 5: Science and Technology



Benchmark 1: The student explores a variety of art media, techniques, and processes.

Benchmark 6: The student demonstrates that clean-up and organization of materials are a part of the artistic process.


Benchmark 3: The student will develop skills necessary to describe changes in the earth and weather.

Benchmark 2: The student will apply their understanding about science and technology.



The student:

1. manipulates a variety of media, such as paint, dough, clay, crayons, paper, and fibers.

2. uses a variety of techniques, such as modeling, painting, drawing, coloring, cutting, gluing, printing.

3. applies a variety of processes, such as painting, clay building, collage, mixed media, printmaking.

1.follows established routines.

2.shows respect for others’ work and space.


The student:

2. observes, describes, and records daily and seasonal

weather changes.

3. works with others to solve problems.


(A) After discussing and looking at artwork from different artist depicting weather the student will be able to (B) create a environment depicting weather as a background for their scarecrow (C) with at least 90% accuracy.


 Art history books and the internet for art history images

Materials Needed:

Glue, Scissors, Construction Paper, Tissue/Crate Paper, Oil Pastels, Cotton Balls, Jeans, Fabric, Felt, Straw, String, Yarn, Popsicle sticks, toothpicks


October is a fantastic month to talk about the change in weather, local harvest and how the weather effects our local community.Having students look at the weather and create their own scene using and exploring different art media and collage techniques allow the students to understand how the different media and visuals can change the mood of their art work.


 Day One:

 (1min)Class Start Cheer

 (10-20 mins) Go over power point about weather

 (20-35 mins) Demonstrate Create oil pastel background with cloud.Students create their weather scene with the media introduced

 (5 Mins) Clean Up and In line Review

Day Two:

(1min)Class Start Cheer

 (5-20 mins) Over view of project

 (20-45 mins)Demonstrate to students how to create their middle crown with scarecrow.Students create their own middle ground.

 (5 Mins) Clean Up and In line Review

Day Three:

(1min)Class Start Cheer

 (5-20 mins) Over view of project

 (20-45 mins)Demonstrate to students how to create foreground.Students create their own foreground

 (5 Mins) Clean Up and In line Review

Day Four:

 (1min)Class Start Cheer

 (5 min) Overview of what a critique is and how to give constructive feedback

 (40 min) Critique of each students work by peers and teacher

 (5 Mins) Clean Up and In line Review



1.How would you describe a field after it rains?

2.How would you describe a scarecrow in a field during the night vs. during the day?

3.Why do you think scarecrows were used to scare away birds?

4.What is the main idea or theme created by your choice in weather?

5.Is there a better solution to creating the mood/theme in your project?

6.What would happen if you changed one color in your background?

7.What would happen if you changed the face of your scarecrow?

8.What is an alternative way you could help set the mood/theme to your project?

ASSESSMENT of objective



 Add as needed for your classroom

Step 3: Art History Examples of Weather

The following are slides I used to discuss how weather can change the mood of a piece of art work.  We identified the type of weather we were looking at, how the color choices helped create the environment and how line and shapes could create action.  These are but a few examples that you could use, just remember to know your art history.  :) 

Never be afraid to tell a child you do not know the answer, but you can work to find it out.  You are human, and while you might have a lot of art history knowledge, once in a while you might get thrown a curve ball.  I believe that when students realize you do not know everything, that you too must learn and look for the answers they are more willing to try things themselves and work harder in class.  Teachers can be superheros, but ever superhero has  weakness....but the key is problem solving around that weakness to succeed.

Step 4: Scarecrows

This project brings scarecrows to life in different environments.  Because I had never done this project before I didn't have old student examples to show my kids.  So, I found random pictures on line and when possible I made sure the enviroment showed specific types of weather.

Step 5: Weather Environment Examples

Again, I needed to show examples of weather to the students so they had an idea of environments they could create for their little guys.  Since we started this before Halloween, I did focus a but more on storms, but my students could create any environment they wanted.  We live a rural midwest farming community and I tried to find pictures that reflected that so they had some prior knowledge to bring to the table.

Step 6: Creating a Background

To create the background students were given a black sheet of construction paper and using oil pastels they were to create the sky and ground.  I do not like to blend pastels (oil or chalk) I prefer to layer.  However, that doesn't mean blending doesn't have it's place so I showed examples of both to my students and let them decide if they wanted to blend or not.  I do suggest for blending having them use a cotton ball or tissue paper, simply so they do not muddy their colors by moving their fingers around the project.

Remind students that the way they fill in their area, the directional lines, makes a difference on mood and over all environment look.  You wouldn't for instance have the ground being made with vertical lines (you could but since we are adding more to the foreground this is not necessarily the best of ideas)

I liked the idea of using different objects to create the environment, so cotton balls for clouds seemed like a good plan. However, white cotton balls will not go along with a storm.  So to dye the cotton, I popped out some prang water color and placed them in a small cup and added water.  When the water color had all melted down, I put the cotton balls in and laid them on wax paper in my classroom window to dry.  They can be pulled apart after they are dry and used on this project, (see pictures of this being done in the next step)

Step 7: Creating a Middle Ground

The scarecrow is part of the middle ground. 

I ask every year for random materials for my room that I can reuse and create into projects for the kids.  One of the best materials to ask for are old jeans, they have a ton of uses!

On a 8 X 11 piece of tag board I had students create templates for their scarecrows shirt and pants.  Cut out the templates and trace them onto fabric using a crayon (crayola works better than cheaper brands.)

With a crayon or the oil pastels you can add details to the fabric.  On this example I used crayola crayons on the jeans and oil pastel on the shirt.

Using old tissue paper from gift I'd been given I made small leaves blowing in the background adding some to the top of the scarecrow.  Layering items like this helps give depth.

The head was made using scrap felt, I layered it by the shirt so I could get the correct size to cut out. I used oil pastel to add details to the face and to add "dirt" to it.

I then glued hay coming out of the legs and the arms.  I cut a Popsicle in half and used the ends to stick out of the arms as well to give it more of the on the T look.  I added some straw out to the side of the scarecrow and glue pieces on at an angle to give the feel of the wind blowing.

Step 8: Creating the Foreground

As you create the foreground it's possible you will add to the middle ground as well, and that is ok.

Using some cool scrap paper I was given from a scrapbook-er I created a hat.  It had a fuzzy feel.  I used a strip of the same material I cut the shit out of to make a hat band.

I used a lot of construction paper in an elementary art room and I save everything!  So I had some brown strips of paper laying around. Using a black, brown and a bit of white crayons with out their paper I added color laying the crayon on the side and going along the strip on both sides.  I then crumpled the paper up and opened it back up.  I glue these pieces on to create a funky tree.

Using tissue paper I make small balls and added more fall leaves at the base of the tree and even in the bark as if they were caught from the blowing wind.

It is important to note that parts of my foreground actually stick off of the original paper, this is ok, and actually I like to show my students that you do not have to be confined to the paper.  The majority will stay on the paper, it's just a fact of kids development, however, if you show them they can do it, they do free up more and will make larger pieces.  Children have a tendency to want to work small, and I like to see them use as much of their paper as possible.

Step 9: Student Examples

Here are examples of student work and two of my examples.  I just had a few of these left in my room, but will add more pictures should they get hung up in the school.

Step 10: PoofRabbit's Tips and Tricks

  • Ask for materials!  Reused stuff is awesome, and people like to save things when they know they have a great use.  I ask for old shirts, bed sheets, jeans, scrap fabric you name it.  I always tell people just bring me your junk, if I won't use it I'll throw it out.  I can tell you, I have never thrown anything out, lol.
  • You will use a lot of glue.  A lot of art teacher can be heard saying, dot, dot, not a lot.  Which is great, even I use it and remind kids to only use about the size of an apple seed.  However, you have heavy objects and materials that soak up glue, don't let them go hog wild, but do tell them this is an acceptation to the rule.
  • Don't be afraid to push, children rise to the occasion.  Have them talk to each other about their project, ask each other should I add more.  Remind them, things don't have to be slapped together, you want a good quality project.
Question?  Feel free to ask and if you use this lesson or modify it I would love to see your students work!
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