I originally found this project at Deep Space Sparkle- one of the art blogs that I follow. This blog has so many amazing art projects for elementary students, sometimes it's hard to narrow it down to just one! I really like the projects that she does for her primary grades. Check it out at: http://www.deepspacesparkle.com/2009/09/tortuga-time/
I used the Deep Space Sparkle project as a jumping off point and added to it. I read the book to the students first. They loved it! If you haven't read it, it's based on the book, The Little Red Hen, but instead, uses animals that you would find in the desert (living in Texas, some days, it FEELS like we live in a desert!): turtle, snake, rabbit and iguana. To make it even better for my bilingual students, the book has many sections in simple, rhyming Spanish.
We started the project off with a demonstration on how to draw a turtle, a snake, a rabbit, or an iguana. Unfortunately, I only have pictures of the turtles and snakes (my flash drive got wiped out soon after and I was only able to save about 1/2 of the pictures from this project).
For the turtle, we drew the 2 eyes first- nice big ovals. Then we drew the head around the eyes. For the shell we made a 1/2 circle and connected it at the bottom with a straight line. I reminded the students that we always draw our subject bigger than our hand (if we put our hand on top of it and you can't see it, then it is too small). We added 4 legs and a small tale.
For our snake, we started with the eyes, again- big ovals. Then I had them draw a long, wavy line from 1 side of the paper to the other and then back to the other side to connect it.
No matter which animal they chose to draw, they had to add a pattern to it (shapes, lines, etc).
They traced their animal with black marker and then colored them with warm colored oil pastels.
The next week, I gave them a piece of blue construction paper. We talked what a desert is and what you would find there: cactus, sun, sand, etc.
I put trays of tempera cakes on each table and they painted their background. If I were to do this again, I think I would change this part up. The construction paper did not hold up well to the tempera cakes. I would use a better quality paper for the background.
Then they cut out their animals (we did a quick review of how to hold their scissors, turn the paper, not scissors, etc) and then used glue dots to attach their animals to the background.