Springtime easel starters

We continue to explore flowers and seeds in our classroom and this is a simple way to promote different types of concepts and possibly a little more advanced painting at the easel…

I call this an easel starter.  Using the same kind of approach as a sentence starter, an easel starter starts off with something added to the paper that extends a concept we have been exploring in our classroom…

I don’t know if you can tell without looking closely, but each of these painting started with a blank sheet of paper with three seeds glued to the bottom.  When the children started their paintings, there was nothing else on the paper but the seeds which I glued on the night before…

In our circle time we explored, in very simple terms, the growth pattern from seed to flower. As one way to extend our discussion, I prepared easel starters for the children to create their own flowers from a seed…

The children created their own paintings from seed to flower using the real seeds I had already glued to the paper the day before…

Some of the children chose to paint dirt over the seeds so they were under the ground….

Others chose to simply add the stems, leaves, and flowers…

By adding the seeds in advance, we had a simple way to start our easel painting and to extend the concepts we are learning that day as well…

Can you think of other simple easel starters to try? Leave me a comment below with your thoughts!

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By |2012-03-24T11:00:11+00:00March 24th, 2012|

About the Author:

Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. has been working and teaching in the field of early childhood education for over 30 years. Deborah currently owns and teaches in her own part-time, private preschool called The Children’s Studio. Deborah’s deep passion for teaching and working with young children is documented and then graciously shared with millions of readers around the world through her blog and other social networking communities. Deborah believes that young children learn best through play and exploration and embraces this belief in all that she does in her own classroom so that she can effectively and passionately share rewarding, real- life, tried-and-true practices with other teachers, parents, and leaders across the field of early childhood education.


  1. corrie March 24, 2012 at 1:27 pm - Reply

    That is brilliant! I love it!

    Another painting starter…hmmm….how about flower petals? In the fall, perhaps colored leaves?

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. March 24, 2012 at 4:29 pm - Reply

      Petals and leaves would be terrific. The key is to find something the children can incorporate into their painting and both of these would work quite well!

  2. Sheryl @Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds March 24, 2012 at 2:34 pm - Reply

    This is AWESOME!!! Absolutely brilliant.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. March 24, 2012 at 4:29 pm - Reply

      Haha – thank you Sheryl – you always make me smile with your enthusiasm!!

  3. Little Wonders' Days March 24, 2012 at 3:10 pm - Reply

    You have the best ideas. I can’t wait to try this project with my little ones. We’re going to start our insect unit soon. I wonder what the kids would do with a green leaf with a white spot…The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. March 24, 2012 at 4:30 pm - Reply

      You won’t know unless you just out it out there. A real green leaf would be even more interesting to start with!

  4. Scott March 24, 2012 at 3:40 pm - Reply

    A great idea, Deborah. I’ve not seen this particular one before. I’m going TP ponder about some possibilities. Thanks!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. March 24, 2012 at 4:31 pm - Reply

      I wonder what brilliant idea you will come up with!

  5. Shanie March 24, 2012 at 7:48 pm - Reply

    I like to cut shapes, right now I cut easter egg shapes and put them in the easel area, I also like to give them just 2 colors to see what type of collage painting they make from them. I am planning to cut seashell shapes in June, and in April I cut raindrop and umbrella shapes. These usually turn out beautifully and if i have extra spaces on the walls I have something to hang on them.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. March 25, 2012 at 2:36 pm - Reply

      Shapes always make a fun place to paint from!

  6. Heather March 24, 2012 at 8:58 pm - Reply

    Love this idea! I glued brown strips in the fall for a tree trunk. This was put out with those shower spongies and yellow and red paint. It was a neat experience and I don not remember where I got the idea. I love the idea of seeds. Will have to think of more starters!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. March 25, 2012 at 2:37 pm - Reply

      Paper strips can lead to all kinds of painting ideas!

  7. Barb March 25, 2012 at 1:13 am - Reply

    Love this idea. Still leaves creativity to child without adult painted example,but end results is more than just color painted all over paper. Always felt you need to encourage more of a finished end product especially at end of yr instead of just endless reams of painted paper

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. March 25, 2012 at 2:37 pm - Reply

      I want to challenge the children now that we are coming to the end of our school year – just as you mentioned Barb!

  8. Diane Quigley-Clune March 25, 2012 at 7:32 am - Reply

    I recently taught my children about birds and a simple way to draw them. I can see glueing a feather on the easel and let them create their own birds. It might even lead to a nest, tree etc.
    Thanks for all your tips Deborah.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. March 25, 2012 at 2:38 pm - Reply

      Oh- a feather is a perfect easel starter. Great because it is a real object!

  9. Terri March 25, 2012 at 8:40 am - Reply

    I’m doing space and astronaut stuff this week….I think I’ll try star stickers on black paper at the easel.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. March 25, 2012 at 2:38 pm - Reply

      Star stickers are wonderful for getting some fun space-like paintings!!

  10. Mrs. West March 25, 2012 at 12:08 pm - Reply

    Fantastic idea! Love the concept of easel starters. I will have to try something like that to renew the children’s interest in painting at the easel.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. March 25, 2012 at 2:39 pm - Reply

      Look for real items where you can to start off their paintings with!

  11. Mary March 25, 2012 at 2:56 pm - Reply

    Hi Deborah,
    How about gluing some seashells or some sand onto the easel paper, during a oceanbeach theme in the classroom?

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. March 25, 2012 at 2:59 pm - Reply

      Oooh, that is an excellent idea!!!

  12. Mary March 25, 2012 at 3:00 pm - Reply

    I’m sorry I forgot to also mention gluing small pine cones or pine needles onto the easel paper.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. March 25, 2012 at 3:16 pm - Reply

      You are on a roll! This is a terrific idea! I am so inspired 🙂

  13. Amber March 25, 2012 at 9:20 pm - Reply

    How about gluing pieces of egg shell when doing a egg/farm unit? Glue a real clover near St Patrick’s day? Pumpkin Seeds? Apple Seeds? A cane at Christmas? A cotton ball when talking about bunnies? Recyclable materials (TP Tubes, caps to water bottles, etc) around Earth Day? The possibilities are endless!!!!!!!!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. March 25, 2012 at 10:33 pm - Reply

      Wow – you are on a roll with tons of great ideas!! The possibilities are endless!!

  14. karla mccollough March 25, 2012 at 9:42 pm - Reply

    LOVE the idea! Any thoughts for an animal theme?

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. March 25, 2012 at 10:38 pm - Reply

      Hmmmm, that is a tough one! One teacher suggested, by email, to start with a pair of googly eyes and let the children make a frog from the googly eyes:) Perhaps your students could paint up other animals starting with eyes or a pink felt circle for a pig nose or a batch of brown yarn for a tail or a cotton ball for a bunny rabbit (also suggested below).

  15. Pam March 26, 2012 at 10:12 am - Reply

    Last week we hung real daffodils to the right of the easel paper. We put out shades of yellow and green paint and got some extra cheerful spring flower paintings. We talked about the trumpet, slender leaves, long stem, # of petals, etc. before painting.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. March 26, 2012 at 1:50 pm - Reply

      Oh – I love that idea too! It is another way to promote more thought at the easel!

  16. Vicki Blacken March 26, 2012 at 12:26 pm - Reply

    I wonder if you could try starting with a few twigs and lead into a discussion of birds collecting things to build a nest. I can see the children adding eggs, baby birds hatching, parent birds feeding, etc.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. March 26, 2012 at 1:49 pm - Reply

      Absolutely – the twigs would make a great easel starter. It’s hard to say what the children will want to make with them but combining the twigs on paper with a book and discussion on bird nests might produce some interesting results! Perhaps even some eggshells glued to the paper would produce some interesting results too!

  17. Wendy March 27, 2012 at 2:45 pm - Reply

    Just had to share that I took this idea back to my classroom. We read “The Tiny Seed” by Eric Carle first. I did not say anything about the seeds on the paper just to see what those creative minds would do. The first 2 children who wanted to paint immediately painted dirt and flowers around the seeds. “Wow!” I thought, “This is amazing! Leave it to 2 of my precious boys to change it up a bit One used the seeds as fire from the rocket ship he painted and the other painted volcanoes over the seeds. He explained that these were volcano seeds! Thanks for such a fun idea!!!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. March 27, 2012 at 3:22 pm - Reply

      That is super cool! I love how some children chose to build on the book and others just wanted to create their own idea! Love it, love it, love it!!

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