Rainforest Mixed Media Composition

Lesson Plan, Grades 6-8, Art, Science, Art History, Sax, Mixed Media


Lesson Plan & Artwork by Phyllis M. Annett

Students will use mixed media on tiers of Crescent Mounting Board to depict their choice of a rainforest animal, insect or bird.


  • To enable students to study the rainforests and create a well balanced, composition of a rainforest creatureusing mixed media on elevated mounting board.

Supplies Needed

Crescent® 8 Ultra-Black Mounting Board, 8x10", Pack of 10
Crescent® 8 Ultra-Black Mounting Board 11x14", Pack of 40
Sargent Art® Gallery Oil Pastels, Metallic, Pack of 12
Sargent Art® Gallery Oil Pastels, Fluorescent, Pack of 12
Faber-Castell®Soft Pastels, Set of 48
Shiva® Artists Paintstik® Oil Colors, Set of 12
Crayola® Metallic Crayons, Pack of 16
Jack Richeson® Pearlescent Watercolors, 12 colors
Aleen's® Original Tacky Glue, 1 Pint Jar
Saral® Transfer Paper in White (optional)
Sax® Extra White Sulphite Drawing Paper 12x18", Pack of 500
*Here are the supplies needed for this lesson plan for reference. Find a convenient carousel of shoppable products for this lesson below.


Anchor Standard #1: Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work.
Anchor Standard #4: Analyze, interpret and select artistic work for presentation.
Anchor Standard #8: Interpret intent and meaning in artistic work.
Anchor Standard #10: Synthesize and relate knowledge and personal experiences to art.



Inform students they will be researching rainforests to depict one particular plant, animal, insect or bird in a mixed media composition done on tiered layers of black mounting boards. Give a brief description of rainforests: an area where plants are self-watering because they release water into the atmosphere through a process of transpiration. Each tree canopy can release two hundred gallons of water into the air each year. The moisture creates a thick cloud cover that hangs over the atmosphere and keeps rainforests humid and warm. This creates an excellent habitat for plants and wildlife.


Show photos and paintings of rainforests, such as the work of Frederic Edwin Church entitled "Tropical Scenery", painted in 1873, or his "El Rio de Luz" painted in 1877. Church was a prominent member of the Hudson River School of artists who painted in Central and South America to depict the mountains, waterfalls and sunsets of the rainforests. Give students a list of possible rainforests to research. Note: this lesson's subject is the two inch red-eyed tree frog of Columbia, Central America and Mexico. It was chosen for its vivid colors and its ability to use camouflage to hide on leaves and then startle its predators when threatened with its big red eyes, bright orange webbed feet and colorful under belly.


Introduce, demonstrate and have students test the mixed media method with the supplies for their compositions.


Cut white drawing paper to 11" x 14" and instruct students to work out a composition highlighting their choice of subject matter. Show students they will be stacking three to four sizes of black mounting board, one on top of the other, to give an unusual perspective to their work. This helps highlight the main subject of the art work. Levels will be propped up with small stacks of mat board on the underside of the boards and, lastly, glued to one another. The overall size of their tiered work will be 11" x 14".


In this order, have students: A) choose the number and size of mounting boards and position them in place with tape on the undersides, B) trace the shapes of the boards onto an 11" x 14" base, C) sketch very lightly the drawing on the boards or use transfer tape to transfer the drawings (use the textured side of the board when using as a drawing surface; the smooth side, when using as a mounting board), D) after the drawings are completed, remove the tape from the boards and start the mixed media process on each board, following the design. Place and glue stacks of mounting board on the underside of each board and glue in a tiered fashion, and E) display and evaluate work of self and others, and enjoy the completed rainforests mixed media compositions.