Watermelon Self-Portraits

9 year old
Timeframe: 1-2 hours total for the visual art 
Grade Level: All grades

Watermelons are a staple snack for late summer and early fall in the south. They're juicy and messy, and so refreshing when it is hot. Its always fun to get outside and have what my grandmother used to call a "watermelon cutting".

During one of my art camps, we did just that. We had a traditional, southern "watermelon cutting". We put quilts on the ground, picnic style. I gave each student a slice of watermelon and took their picture while they took the first big bite. Obviously, I won't post those here for privacy reasons. But, the picture served for the basis of these Watermelon Self-Portraits.

I got the idea for this art activity while searching ideas for summer photography of children. There is so much adorable photography out there of children eating watermelons. There is also a lot of great  artwork featuring children eating watermelons to show students with this project. Google it!

Here's what we did:

After I let each student study the digital copy of their photo, we began drawing self-portraits.
8 year old

We actually drew the entire face first. Then we went back and drew the watermelon slice and hands. It really seemed to help the younger students to draw the whole face first, and then draw the watermelon and hands on top. We erased the parts of the face that would be covered by the watermelon slice. I think this helped them with their proportions. However, the hands were still very hard for them to draw. We had to practice and practice!!

6 year old
We selected a pattern from the fabric of the quilts to use as our background. Then we traced over our pencil lines with a black permanent marker. 
9 year old
We used Crayola Multicultural tempera to paint our skin. This paint is WONDERFUL for painting people, because it is always so hard for students to mix skin tones themselves. We used Yasutomo Pearlescent Watercolors to paint the rest. Tempera cakes would work great for the background if you are strapped for cash and can't afford to use that much Yasutomo!

This activity is great for summertime. It would also be a great beginning of the year activity for a regular classroom. 

Here are some integration ideas for the younger grades:
  • Save the seeds and glue to a piece of construction paper to tell addition and subtraction stories.
  • Sort the small, medium, and large seeds for graphing.
  • Have a seed spitting contest to incorporate measurement. (Just keep it outside, because that could be a disaster indoors!)
  • Do a descriptive writing piece and incorporate the science of the 5 senses. 
  • Use a seed to make a Flow Map of the watermelon lifecycle (glue it to the actual map).

Here are some integration ideas for the older grades:
  • Use the seeds to make an array of a multiplication fact.
  • Do a piece of descriptive writing OR a piece of procedural writing. Some procedures would be "How to Cut a Watermelon" (after watching the teacher demonstrate), "How to Clean Up After Eating a Watermelon", "How to Make Watermelon Juice".
  • Do a scientific experiment to determine the best way to get the seeds to sprout AND write about it.
  • Paint the seeds, create a class mosaic, then write about the teamwork process.
  • Put all of the seeds in a jar, have a contest to let the lower grades estimate how many, then write a blog post or newspaper article about the event.
  • Write an "I Remember When" poem about another time they had watermelon OR about the time they had watermelon at school
  • Google image search "Americana Watermelon Artwork" for a social studies unit to address stereotypes in American History, then do a persuasive writing piece.

10 year old
 (She did a great job on the hands!)

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


  1. Love this lesson! I found your blog via TBA. I am nominating you for the Liebster Award. Check out my blog for all the details.

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