My 1st grade students recently looked at Paris Street; Rainy Day by Gustave Caillebotte, and discussed everything they could find out about the painting from sight. Without knowing the title of the painting, the name or nationality of the artist, or when it was painted, my students were able to assess that the painting was from "a long time ago" because of the horse-drawn carriages and by the clothing people are wearing. The lamp post shows us that it's not too old; we dated the picture to the late 1800's. Several students noticed that the picture is of a city; but of course they couldn't tell which city. They could tell it was a rainy day because of the umbrellas people are carrying in the painting.
After the students had talked about the painting for a while, I told them some facts about it. The students learned that the picture is of a rainy day in Paris. We talked about what people wore in big cities back then, and what would be out in the rain and what would not be in the rain. Then, we talked about what people wear in the rain today, and how someone in the year 2012 in Carroll County would depict a rainy day. We talked about what kinds of umbrellas the students had; if they wore rain coats or rain boots; and which of their pets might be playing in the rain with them. Many students had a dog who liked to play in the rain, but all of the students agreed that their cat hates rain.
The students used colored pencils to draw whatever would be in their rainy day picture. Many students included themselves or another person, usually wearing a raincoat and carrying an umbrella, and some students put flowers in their picture because flowers like rain. Some students had a dog playing in the rain.
The following week, my students used watercolor pencils to fill the sky with rain drops. Then, they painted water over the rain to color the sky. Here are a few of my favorites: