Level I-Art Lesson 5: The Dragonfly from Ecuador
Learn to draw a dragonfly inspired by artists from Ecuador working with recycled glass
The lesson is suitable for students in kindergarten through adult.
Art Lesson Description:
You have probably seen dragonflies hovering lazily over water or elegantly perching on a stem on the water’s edge. Their seemingly quiet behavior hides the fact that these insect helicopters have a voracious appetite for other insects, especially mosquitoes and gnats. They can eat enough insects to equal their own weight in half an hour!
Artists from Ecuador have made a nightlight from recycled glass that depicts a dragonfly hovering over a bubbly glass pond. The combination of opaque and translucent glass inspires our lesson. We use oil pastels and watercolors to create a similar effect of opacity and translucence.
The dragonfly is VERY easy to draw. The coloring—with oil pastels and watercolors—is more complicated. With very young children you will probably prefer to stick with magic markers. Either way, you will find this a satisfying project, as well as a good introduction to dragonfly life. We suggest using acrylic glitter glaze to finish the project. It gives a wonderful sparkling finish. Use it if you have it on hand.
This lesson includes both POWERPOINT and VIDEO versions of the lesson plus 2 downloadable printouts: a warmup and a drawing of the dragonfly.
List of Supplies for Each Student:
- 1 dragonfly warm-up
- 1 sheet of 8 ½” x 11” watercolor paper + one 6” x 6” scrap of paper
- 1 fine tipped black magic marker
- 1 set of 8 or 12 watercolors
- 1 set of oil pastels
- Masking tape
- A surface to tape the watercolor paper onto (a piece of 12” x 16” masonite will work well)
- A ½” flat wash watercolor brush
- 1 bottle or cup for rinsing brushes
- acrylic glitter glaze
Suggestions for Cross-Curricular Connections:
- Read The Fate of the Yellow Woodbee by Dave Jackson and Neta Jackson, a book that tells the story of the Auca tribe, who distrust all outsiders, and some missionaries who contact them.
- the lesson as an introduction to Ecuador and the surrounding nations of South America. What kind of climate does it have? What resources? How do people make a living there?
- Watch a video about Equador. What kind of climate does it have? What kind of music? What kind of plants?
- Music: Listen to music from Equador and watch the performers.
- Literature: Read a poem about dragonflies
- Learn about dragonflies and the ecology of pond life.
- Dragonflies have amazing, unusual wings. Learn about their wings at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oxrLYv0QXa4
- Learn 10 more amazing facts about dragonflies, including their voracious appetite and brutal habits.
- Discover what dragonflies are native to Equador. Are they different from dragonflies you have seen?
- When you read the poem about dragonflies, learn more about the life cycles of dragonflies.
Approximate Time to Complete the Art Class:
- Introduction through guided drawing: 25 minutes
- Finishing the drawing: 25 (1 bug) - 40 minutes
- Total time: 65 minutes