I first saw this lesson at the Use Your Colored Pencils blog, and knew I would be using it someday. Thanks Anne! The supplies needed are minimal: white paper plates, tempera in blue/white/black, brushes and water. We practiced mixing shades and tints of blue for our designs. The cross-curricular opportunities range from poetry and storytelling, to the culture of China and its influence on pottery through out the world.
We looked at a piece of Blue Willow china and discussed what images we saw on the plate. I then told the children about the legend which the pattern illustrates. To help remember what we saw, and to help everyone to chose elements to use in their designs, I shared the following poem:
'Two birds flying high,
A Chinese vessel, sailing by.
A bridge with three men, sometimes four,
A willow tree, hanging o'er.
A Chinese temple, there it stands,
Built upon the river sands.
An apple tree, with apples on,
A crooked fence to end my song.'
They were asked to chose one, or a few of the elements, but some did even more! The children sketched lightly in pencil first, and then began to paint. I reminded them that the border was an important part of their design as well (the ridges of the paper plate can aid them in creating simple border designs.) Great job guys! I love them all!
If you might try a Blue Willow lesson, here are some great links to go with your planning:
Wikipedia has an article about the Blue Willow pattern:
A telling of the Blue Willow legend at:
New Zealand director Veialu Aila-Unsworth made a short animated film about the Blue Willow legend. You can view the trailer here:
And if anyone knows where I can see the entire film, PLEASE let me know!