Cleo the Cat


My first graders LOVE oil pastels and do an excellent job with them. When I came across the book Cleo the Cat by Stella Blackstone in our school library I knew it would be the perfect lesson to introduce oil pastels to this year’s firsties. The pictures are vibrant but have simple shapes and bold outlines perfect for little hands.

We started by reading the book and identifying the different shapes and colors we could see in each page. We also practiced predicting outcomes by taking guesses at what Cleo was going to do next while we went through the book.

Each student was given a 9″ x 12″ piece of paper and we used a template for the outline of Cleo. I typically try to avoid using templates for key components of an artwork but after attempted to lead the first class through the drawing it became clear that the shape of Cleo was too organic and difficult. We traced the outer shape and then each student adjusted the head, legs, and tail to achieve the look they wanted their cat to have.

Then the real fun began. We passed out the oil pastels and started to get messy! I demonstrated a few different ways to layer and blend the oil pastels. I also encouraged students to have fun with their color choices.

These cats are amazing. They are all so bold. When I posted them in the hallway it was as if we had dozens of kittens leaping across the wall. This was an excellent lesson for building confidence too. Everyone was proud of their own work and everyone was impressed by their classmates.

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