K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

LEARN NC was a program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education from 1997 – 2013. It provided lesson plans, professional development, and innovative web resources to support teachers, build community, and improve K-12 education in North Carolina. Learn NC is no longer supported by the School of Education – this is a historical archive of their website.

Learn more

Related pages

  • How do I express what I believe? - Part 2: This is the second in a three-part lesson series seeking to examine belief systems and how they impact culture in the United States. This lesson, "How do I express what I believe?" requires 3 sessions at 40 minutes each to complete. The lesson series also seeks to let students examine their own personal belief system. In this lesson, the student will learn about the American tradition of the Face Jug/Pot and how it is used to express belief. The student will also create a Face Jug/Pot to express his/her belief, and this pot will be used in the third lesson entitled. "How do I present what I believe?"
  • Faces tell feelings - Part 6 - Emotions collage: Students will create a collage using magazine photos and words printed in computer lab to express a particular emotion.
  • Sea inventory: In this lesson students will create a beach mural with sand, shells, and blue and white finger paints. They will count objects added to the mural as they go along.

Related topics


Please read our disclaimer for lesson plans.


The text of this page is copyright ©2008. See terms of use. Images and other media may be licensed separately; see captions for more information and read the fine print.

Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • draw cats using geometric shapes.
  • draw from imagination a setting for their cats.
  • paint cats using wet-on-wet watercolor technique.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

2 hours


  • Pictures of cats in different environments
  • Word strips
  • Large watercolor or heavy art paper for each student
  • Crayons–all colors (make sure you have brown and black to outline cats).
  • Watercolor paints or liquid paints in orange, brown, black
  • Watercolor brushes-medium size
  • Paper towels to blot excess watercolor paint on painting
  • Containers with water
  • Pencils and good erasers
  • Stuffed Animal Cat

Technology resources

Computer and color printer to print photos of cats from referenced websites below for teaching critical ESL vocabulary and for memory game assessment.


  • Students will have prior knowledge of what various cats look like through real life encounters and from books.
  • Student will have prior experience doing basic watercolor techniques earlier in the school year.
  • Students will have prior knowledge of basic shapes, ie. oval, circle, triangle.


Day 1

  1. Teacher will show examples of cats drawn or painted by various master artists, as well as teacher and student generated artwork examples.
  2. Teacher will demonstrate how to make a cat using connected geometric shapes. A oval for the body of the cat, a circle for the head, triangles for the ears and nose, and then add the legs, tail, and additional face features. Students will chorally respond telling the teacher the various shapes as they are drawn on the board… oval! circle! triangle!
  3. Teacher will again lead the students step-by-step on how to draw a cat, ie. teacher draws a big oval in center of paper, students draw with pencil a big oval in the center of their paper. Teacher monitors around the room each step of step-by-step drawing. (students sometimes have trouble drawing the initial large oval shape).
  4. After students have successfully drawn a big cat as their main focus point, they need to draw another one using the same method on their own, but this time making it smaller (kitten). They can place their kitten anywhere except in front of the main/focus cat.
  5. Once cats are drawn, students need to draw in pencil an environment around the cats. Ask the students where they would like their cats to be. Do they want them inside the house, outside, on the playground, etc.

Day 2

  1. After students have sufficiently detailed their foreground, middle grounds, and backgrounds they need to go over all their pencil lines with a black or brown crayon bearing down hard to cover lines well. This goes for all the lines, including the features in the cat’s face.
  2. Students will fill-in the entire picture in various crayon colors of their choice, except the cats. Make sure they color in heavily and remind them not to color the inside areas of their cats (this is where they will add their watercolors).
  3. Teacher will demonstrate how to do the wet-on-wet technique for watercolor in order to make the fuzzy texture of cat’s fur. First, dip paint brush in plain water and cover the area where the cats are located. Semi-dry brush and now add orange, brown, and black to wet area on cats. Colors will run due to wet surface area making colors merge and look fuzzy like fur. If paints run too much, blot with paper towels. Students will show understanding by correctly following the steps demonstrated by the teacher.

Note: Make sure students do not over-do this wet-on-wet technique by continuously layering watercolors. The idea is to put colors next to each other and let them blend automatically. Also, the crayon, if applied heavily, will resist the watercolors due to the wax in crayons.


Students will have a completed artwork that shows understanding of steps and techniques of drawing, coloring, and water coloring a painting with calico cats.

Use attached rubric to assess individual completed student’s artwork project.

Supplemental information


  • Use visuals of cats in different environments (in the house, up a tree, on the table, under the bed)
  • Use a stuffed animal cat to show use of prepositions (Cat on the book, under the desk, in the trash can, up the door frame, on the ground, outside the window etc.).
  • Create short titles for each visual on word strips. Practice choral reading of titles.
  • Review geometric shapes used for lesson by drawing on board or using cut out shapes.
  • Students can point to, touch, hold up an example of, or name the shape displayed by the teacher to demonstrate understanding.

Alternative assessments

  • Students demonstrate understanding of lesson vocabulary by selecting correct visual of various cats in their environments as described by teacher. (See referenced websites for resources to create visuals).
  • Students follow teachers directions by placing the stuffed animal cat in various places in the classroom as previously demonstrated by teacher. Teacher is careful to use only prepositions and nouns previously used during instruction.
  • Students match visuals of cats with word strip titles. Read titles to teacher.
  • Students use vocabulary taught during the lesson.
  • Teachers can create a version of the Memory Game using visuals and word strips.

Critical vocabulary

up, on, under, in, outside, inside, front, back, up, down, high, low, behind, foreground, middle ground, background, oval, circle, triangle, focus or main object, wet-on-wet technique, paint brush, paint


The wet-on-wet technique in watercolor is nothing more than getting paper wet first and quickly adding paint before paper dries. It is a technique that is good for creating fuzzy effects and helps eliminate unwanted hard edges in painting.

  • North Carolina Essential Standards
    • Visual Arts Education (2010)
      • Grade 1

        • 1.V.3 Create art using a variety of tools, media, and processes, safely and appropriately. 1.V.3.1 Use a variety of tools safely and appropriately to create art. 1.V.3.2 Execute control of a variety of media. 1.V.3.3 Use the processes of drawing, painting,...

North Carolina curriculum alignment

English Language Development (2005)

  • Objective 0.02: Understand and follow one-step and two-step directions and instructions with modeling and prompting when spoken slowly and distinctly.
  • Objective 0.02: Copy short phrases and high-frequency first grade words.
  • Objective 0.08: Draw and label pictures related to a familiar story, topic, or experience.
  • Visual Arts Education (2001)

    Grade 1

    • Goal 1: The learner will develop critical and creative thinking skills and perceptual awareness necessary for understanding and producing art.
      • Objective 1.02: Uses logical sequence to complete an activity.
      • Objective 1.03: Develop fluency in use of symbols for visual expression.
    • Goal 2: The learner will develop skills necessary for understanding and applying media, techniques, and processes.
      • Objective 2.01: Become familiar with additional basic art media, techniques and processes which may include: fibers - papermaking and paper weaving.
      • Objective 2.02: Use various techniques to create visual effects using texture.
    • Goal 3: The learner will organize the components of a work into a cohesive whole through knowledge of organizational principles of design and art elements.
      • Objective 3.01: Use variety of geometric and organic shapes in creating own work.
      • Objective 3.06: Create visual textures with basic drawing, sculpture and painting tools.