Creating beetles with glue, acrylic paint, and chalk.

Beetles are beautiful. Such brilliant iridescent colors, so many varieties.  You can spend a lot of time drawing different kinds, and even more using different mediums to capture their beauty.  I find them much easier to learn how to draw than butterflies too.  I can never get butterfly wings to look symmetrical.  The great thing about beetles is children love them too!

My second grade students recently finished a unit in Science about beetles.  They got to watch beetles hatch from eggs in their classrooms; they got to learn what they eat; they learned vocabulary associated with beetle anatomy; and they got to visit an entomologist at a nearby compound.  Students loved learning about beetles.  Maybe because we don’t have too much bug life here in the land of sand, and we’ll take anything we can get. I was excited about this unit.  Beetles are cool.

When we began, students looked at books about insects and beetles to learn more about them.  Then we drew three different kinds, over and over again.  I got how-to-draw printouts of three different kinds of beetles from  We started by drawing them in small sketches and worked our way up to using a legal size paper to ensure we could fill the paper with one beetle.  Students always have trouble drawing big and this is one thing we had to do for this project. So practice really did help us gain our confidence.  Students really got into drawing different kinds of beetles and I am happy to report we got a few cockroaches and ladybugs thrown into our mix by the end.

Most projects involving chalk involve drawing the contour lines with glue first on black paper.  Then the glue dries clear to leave a black line drawing.  I am not really a fan of this method.  Sometimes the glue comes out gloppy, sometimes not at all.  I wanted my students to do something different but I didn’t know what. Then I consulted YouTube, and whala, my solution was found.  You can paint with acryllic paints and glue.  This allows you to get smaller lines than what the glue nozzle would make.

I provided all my students with metallic paints mixed with glue.  They were instructed to only paint the lines with this mixture, then the rest would be done with chalk.  Some students really liked working with this medium, but others had a really hard time.  It looks great if your students have good fine motor skills, but for some, I wish I would have stuck with the glue out of nozzle method.

After we laid down our glue paint, I showed students how to blend with their fingers.  Then I showed them the best tool: the eraser.  The eraser is perfect for erasing mistakes or it can be used to smudge the chalk a bit. Students loved using erasers on their work.

The main thing I focused on for this lesson was symmetry and emphasis.   I wanted the beetle to be the focus.  Students got to create their backgrounds keeping emphasis in mind, and they would hold their work up to see if the beetle or the background was the main focus.  Most made really smart choices in the end and they are incredibly proud of their efforts.



Author: Sonia Chapman

I am an art teacher, living in the Middle East, following my passion for art, teaching little children about the finer things in life, and loving every bit of it.

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