First, I showed them how to have a wet paintbrush and to wipe it once on the side of the water bowl so it won't drip. We talk about what makes a 'happy' brush (all bristles pointing in the same direction and how not to have a 'sad' brush (having a bad hair day)!
Next, I model how to 'tickle' the watercolor paint. This simple metaphor works wonders and the students know to use a gentle hand. This keeps them from digging in the pot of paint and from stirring the paints. After teaching art for nearly ten years, I used this language this year for the first time and it conveys the message clearly and is so effective. A definite keeper!
As the students get used to their wet brushes and tickling of their paints, I show them how to wash the blue and make a very wet sky leaving room for the sun. We wash a beautiful green meadow, talking about half of our paper is green and half is blue. Finally, we put our paints away with rinsed brushes and then I gave the students Q-tips and tempera paints to dot their flowers all over the meadow. The wet meadow makes the tempera spread a bit, giving it a more blended look. This was a fun project full of watercolor techniques and care for the younger students!