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  • Writer's pictureRobin Murphy

Beautiful Oops!

One thing I always try to teach my youngest students is that it's ok to make mistakes, especially in the Art room. It breaks my heart anytime students make one stray mark and think their artwork is ruined, so I want to do anything I can to get rid of those kinds of situations before they even happen. One of the best ways I've found to teach a positive mindset in the Art room is by using the book "Beautiful Oops!" by Barney Saltzberg, which helps students understand that things that we might consider an "oops" can actually make some really cool art.

We read the book and talk about some of the creative solutions to "mistakes" that we just saw and then we do an activity where they get to make something beautiful out of an "oops." Not only does this project teach perseverance, but it relies heavily on individual creativity, which means the finished creations are super unique and fun-the way they should be!

All students need for this project is a small colorful piece of construction paper (I like to do rectangles about the size of an index card, maybe smaller), a sheet of white paper for a background, a glue stick, and some markers or crayons. First, I tell them to take the colorful piece of paper and look at how nice it is. Straight edges, not crumpled, nice and colorful with no marks on it. Then, I tell them to rip it in half. That's our "oops!" and now we have to figure out what kind of beautiful art we can make with our construction paper that's no longer perfect. I like to brainstorm with the class about this because I don't want to give them a specific example. Unfortunately those students who are still struggling a little with their confidence or independance would rather use my idea if I give an example (you can see this in some of the example pictures below-they all liked the idea of creating monsters or animals when I mentioned it), so I leave it up to the class to brainstorm a little bit. Then we review glue stick procedures and I set them off to glue their pieces down to the background and use the markers or crayons to finish their masterpiece. I love seeing what they come up with.

When we finish, I like to do a little gallery walk before the end of class so students get to see how creative their friends are and how they all turned a "ruined" piece of paper into something unique and beautiful. I love seeing them marvel at their friends' creations!

I'm looking forward to doing this again soon with my Kindergarteners!

Thanks for reading!

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