"Me... Jane" Art Lesson for Kids

Sketch of backyard critters

An art lesson for kids inspired by your own backyard!

Students conduct a scientific study of plant and animal life in their own backyard or neighborhood by documenting it with sketches, field notes and research, just as Jane Goodall did as a young girl.

Grade Level: K–3rd grade
Time Required: 3 45-min. class periods

Vocabulary: Specimen, sketch, layout, shape, proportion, observations, research


Faber-Castell Connector Paint Box

Faber-Castell 9x12 Watercolor Paper

Brushes – medium and small


Black waterproof pen

"Me...Jane" by Patrick McDonnell

Me...Jane written and illustrated by Patrick McDonnell

This 2011 Caldecott winner is a charming and inspiring picture book biography of Jane Goodall. It’s about Jane as a child, and her fascination with and personal observations of the natural world around her. In this lesson plan, students create a journal page with their own sketches, observations and research notes of plant, animal and insect life in their own backyard or neighborhood just as Jane did. Environmental study ideas and activities can also be found by going online to the Jane Goodall Institute and her Roots & Shoots program.

Sketch of caterpillar

1. Begin by instructing students to choose three things from their yard or surrounding area. Students can sketch on location, bring the specimen home to sketch, or sketch from a picture taken.

2. Demonstrate how to design the layout; this is the placement of the drawings, the title (My Backyard, At The Park, On My Walk, etc...) and notes on the page.

3. Tell students to loosely sketch their specimen with a pencil. Look closely for detail. Notice how things are shaped and proportioned.

Sketch of caterpillar

4. When satisfied, students trace over their drawings with a black water-proof pen. Demonstrate how a slow, careful hand gives the single line character. Let the line break here and there.

5. Next, students add color to their drawings. Paint, colored pencils, markers or crayons may be used.

6. Finally, students use a pencil to add their observations and research notes. Books and the internet can be valuable resources.

Download the entire lesson plan, here!

Artist Biography - Janis Doukakis


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