Eric Carle-Mr. Seahorse

Timeframe: Four-45 minute sessions
Grade Level: 3rd
Materials: 11x14 medium weight/white tag board, 11x14 sheet orange construction paper, 11x14 sheet blue construction paper, liquid watercolors- blue and fluorescent blue, white tempera paint, warm and cool colors of tempera paint, scissors, glue, pencil

I read Mr. Seahorse by Eric Carle to my 3rd graders. This project is based on both his artistic style and the book.


Here's what we did:

On the 11x14 orange construction paper, students used warm colors (red, orange, yellow- sometimes we include pink in our warm colors, but not for this project) of liquid tempera to "free paint" the entire sheet. I instructed them to fold the sheet in half and concentrate on yellow on one half and orange on the other. It didn't matter which direction they folded the paper. I did this to make sure that the whole thing didn't end up looking like the goop on a fast food hamburger (mustard and ketchup mixed together). They were free to add whatever designs they chose to the paper. I played music so that they could paint to the rhythm. 

They did basically the same thing on the 11x14 blue construction paper, except this time they did not fold the paper. They also used white with their cool colors. 

Painting the orange and the blue construction paper with warm and cool colors took about one-45 minute session. Of course there are always those careful workers who need more time. 

Next, the students used a spray bottle filled with blue liquid watercolor and water to spray an 11x14 sheet of white tagboard. The objective to using the spray bottle is to make the background look like splatter paint, not to completely cover it. I told them to spray about 8 times in 8 different places. This seemed to help them spray the paper evenly.
They used blue and fluorescent blue liquid watercolors combined with water in a small cup to paint large polka dots over the wet spray background. Then they used white tempera to paint smaller dots overlapping the blue. They did not have to wait on one step to dry before continuing to the next step. They were able to finish the background in about one-45 minute session.

After the blue and orange construction paper was dry and about two weeks after beginning the project, students cut out the coral, the school of fish, and the sea horse. They turned to the back of the paper to draw with a pencil. Some students had a very hard time drawing the coral. So, I let them trace their hands, making the fingers long and wavy. This took another 45 minute session.

The final step was to glue. This took about one-45 minute session. I had to store their cutouts in a zipper bag after they cut out and before they glued. They just didn't have time to do both in one session.

This project was time consuming but easy. It was mildly challenging to my lower students who had difficulty with drawing and cutting such small items as the fish. However, they all turned out well. I wish I had taken pictures of the wall display that their teacher did! I will have to remember to do that in the future! This method could easily be used for any Eric Carle book. In fact, each of my third grade classes did a different book. I will post more on those later.

 Copyright 2012 Amanda Koonlaba-There's a Party in the Art Room


  1. Your blog and art has a real joy that imparts to the veiwer. Vibrant and beauitiful. Thank you for sharing.