There are so many steps to this project and although we changed the steps with each of the 4 classes, this is how I would do it if I were to do it again. Start by water painting a 12 by 9 paper, any color exept brown or black. They used one color. I had them paint with the color till you almost couldn't see it, creating areas of different values. Next, they chose a color that was close on the color wheel and outlined those areas.
I then had them repeat this same technique, with different colors on two more sheets.
After these were dry, on day two, they drew a shape to cut out. I always encourage to draw on the back, if you make a mistake, erase, no one will ever know!!
Cut out the shape. I showed the kids how to pinch the shape and make a hole. Then they can use the hole to get in and cut the rest of the shape. Some students chose to have more than one hole, but I would limit this to 1-3. It takes them a good bit of time to cut out and back.
The students picked out a color to back the hole. I also showed them tracing the glue around the hole. (It always surprises me how many kids want to try and recreate the shape with glue! Then they are shocked the glue is everywhere but where it needs to be.)
Here is the shape backed with construction paper.
On one of the other painted papers I had the students make repeating shapes, no small shapes, only medium to large; ovals, circles, rectangles, squares, etc... I also talked to them about soft edges, just rounding out the edges of their pointed shapes. They outlined these shapes with sharpie and added a concentric shape inside.
Then they added a metallic cooper or gold (I only had silver at home) for some shine.
We also let them make an organic/freeform shape with gold/cooper. These were also detailed with sharpie.
These are scraps that I had left over from another project (it's o.k. to be a little bit of a pack rat when you are an art teacher, right?!?) We used these for smaller details. I also had the kids save there extras and pass around to other friends that could use the paper.
I showed them some time saving tips, fold your paper when you are cutting multiples of the same shape.
In the picture above this one, I start laying out the pieces. Once I got things arranged where I wanted them, I decided I needed just a few more details. So I used scraps to fill in where I needed some detail.
Once I have it all laid out, it is glued down. On some of the art work the kids used silver sharpie for detail, especially if they were done early. This project was rather long, it took our third graders between 5-6 visits to complete. But our patience paid off and our take on microbiology, with inspiration from Karen Kamenetzky turned out really great. I hope you find this tutorial helpful and it inspires you to try it out.