The Umbrella Queen

Timeframe: 3-45 minute sessions
Grade Level: 3rd-4th
Materials: 12x18 white tag board, 9x12 white tag board, pearlescent watercolors, black permanent markers, 9x12 black construction paper

This project is very dear to my heart because it is based on a book that is set in Thailand. My husband is from Sakkonnakon, Thailand. It is a very small village near the Laotioan border. This book, The Umbrella Queen, is set in a small town very much like Sakkonnakon. 

The plot of the book involves a young girl who is learning the trade of the older women in her family. She is learning to paint umbrellas. Each year in this village, a woman is selected as Umbrella Queen based on her ability to paint the most beautiful and proper umbrella. The girl never dreams that she could be the Umbrella Queen, because she doesn't paint by the rules. 

This book also addresses the right of an artist to freely express themselves. So, it is a great book to use in the art classroom. It would also be great for the regular classroom when focusing on retelling.

I chose to have the students focus on the elephant for their project, even though it is not a crucial part of the story. However, if I were using this in the regular education classroom, I would let each student or group of students create a different scene from the book.

Here's what we did:

I read the book to the students, and we discussed plot, characters, setting. They had lots of questions about Thai culture. I answered those to the best of my ability before moving to a discussion of the composition of the illustrations. 

The students drew circles on a sheet of 12x18 white tag board. They turned these circles into the tops of umbrellas. They focused on using patterns to create their umbrellas. They outilned with black permanent markers and painted with pearlescent watercolors. They only painted the umbrellas, leaving the background white. 
Next, they drew an elephant on a 9x12 sheet of white tag board. They outlined with a black permanent marker and painted with pearlescent watercolors. They cut the elephant out and glued to a black sheet of construction paper. They cut around the elephant on the black paper for emphasis. Then, they glued both pieces to the 12x18 sheet of umbrellas. 

This project is great for multiple age levels. 

The projects on this post were completed by 
entering 1st grade through entering 8th grade students.

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