We Are Water Protectors Literature-Based Art Project for 2nd-3rd grade.

When it comes to environmental protection and conservation, children play an essential role in our future.

If you haven’t had the opportunity to read We Are Water Protectors with your kids, I highly recommend you take the time.

It’s a gorgeously illustrated book offering an engaging introduction to environmental concepts.

We Are the Water Protectors Book

Written by Carole Lindstrom and illustrated by Michaela Goade (an enrolled member of the Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska), this project is a creative and educational tool that any homeschool parent can use to deepen art appreciation.

We fight for those who cannot fight for themselves: the winged ones, the crawling ones….

We Are Water Protectors – Carole Lindstrom

While the setting for this book is not in Alaska, the subject is very relevant to the state.

Also, we tied it into our Alaska unit study through the native culture after watching a YouTube video of Shanyaak’utlaax – Salmon Boy, which Goade also illustrates.

If you choose to explore both books, ask students if they can see the similarities in the art.

Explain artists often have a consistent style, like a singer’s voice, that will begin to feel familiar as you interact with more of their work.

Save this project for later!

Children's artwork of brightly colored hummingbird

Creating Your We Are Water Protectors Art Project

I like to start our art projects begin with a read-aloud. Even if you do own the book, I would highly recommend you listen to this We Are Water Protectors read-aloud by the author Carole Lindstrom.

After the reading, she shares some information about the meaning of the story along with the cultural significance of several different aspects of the story.

Once you’ve read or listened to the book, dive in and explore this hummingbird art project together.

***We used this art project as a part of our Alaska Unit Study, as the illustrator is from Sitka.***

Supplies for the We Are Water Protectors Art Project

  • – 12″ x 18″ white all-purpose paper
  • – Tempera or acrylic paints (green and blue)
  • – Sponge for texture
  • – Oil pastels (variety of colors dependent on floral choices)

Step 1: Create a Textured Background

Choose two colors of paint.

We chose blue and green to simplify the sky vs. ground concept, but neither is right or wrong.

I like to put the paint on a paper plate or a paint palette, then we used a sponge to create a textured background.

Art Note: This is a great chance to talk about texture. Here, you’re creating texture instead of implied texture, such as lines representing a bear’s fur or arches for a snake’s skin.

Tell the kiddos to try and cover it all up, but no need to try and make it uniform. We made a diagonal line with plenty of room for the sky.

Drawing the Hummingbird

2. Use Oil Pastel to Outline the Hummingbird

After the background has dried, you’ll use oil pastels to outline the hummingbird. Use the image from We Are Water Protectors as inspiration.

Art Note: If you want to incorporate art principles, highlight how you’re using organic lines for the bird’s outline. None of the lines are straight or even diagonal. Instead, they curve and flow.

Depending on your student’s age, you might encourage them to use oil pastels in colors that complement the portion of the body they’re outlining.

For example, we used orange for the body, purple for the wings, and blue for the beak.

3. Fill in the Hummingbird With Oil Pastels

Childs artwork with bright green and blue background and colorful orange, purple and green hummingbird.

Your students can choose to make the hummingbird all one color if they’re younger.

Encourage older students to add depth by using white to tint and create visual interest throughout the bird’s wings and feathers.

Draw a long narrow beak, perfect for drinking nectar out of flowers.

4. Add Eyes and feathers on the tail

5. Draw Leaves and Stems

For a finishing touch, add some flowers, grasses, and leaves to the background.

Remind students to “jump over” the bird if any elements cross their body. That way, the bird will stay front and center.

6. “Publish” Their Artwork

One of the biggest challenges of completing art with kids is choosing what to do with the massive amounts of art lying around.

My favorite is to gift it. Are there any relatives that have birthdays or celebrations or “just because” days coming up?

Gifts made out of children’s art turn quickly into keepsakes.

Outside of gifting, consider a rotating gallery. Or another favorite in our home is a keepsake journal.

You can tape or glue in loose pieces, but I often try to simply create in the journal.

We Are Water Protectors Illustrations

So here’s something fun!

Michaela Goade, the fantastically talented illustrator for We Are Water Protectors, authored her first children’s book a few years later. The gorgeous Berry Song is one of the books we’re using as inspiration for our Bees and Blooms art unit.

Even more fun…did you know that if you’d like a signed copy of any of Michaela’s books you simply need to call Old Harbor Books, the indie bookstore in Sitka. You’ll pay for the book and shipping and they’ll reach out to Michaela.

Next time she’s in town she’ll swing by and sign it for your little.

Supporting an indie bookstore, a fabulous artist, and snagging a gorgeous gift. It’s winning all around!

Explore Other Art Projects

Ready to plan out your other homeschool art projects?

Take a look at our free art lesson to get a feel for the video-based lessons in the membership. Or, for more tutorial-style lessons like this one, here are a few favorites.

Save this project for later!

Children's artwork of brightly colored hummingbird
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