Panda Kindergarten

Can you think of a more delightful image for young children than lots of little pandas in a kindergarten?  Well, the authors of this wonderful non-fiction book from the Wolong Nature Preserve in China is beloved by my class and inspired the children to stretch their painting skills.

How does one set up a painting experience for children who even at this young age doubt their abilities or don’t know how to begin?  One way is to approach it as an exploration or experiment.


By offering the children various shades of green paper to represent the bamboo forest and limiting the color palette to the pandas’ colors–black and white–we are assured that there is going to be an interesting result.  No matter what the child paints, it is likely that the black and white marks are going to look interesting against the green background.  This child is moving the brush, hesitantly, to create a shape for the panda’s body.

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He’s finished and VERY happy with the result.  The two boys go back and forth around the easel to check out each others’ work.

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A mother and her baby are on the other side.  This child has solved the problem of how to distinguish between the two by using the element of size.

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Success breeds success and he wants to try another painting.  Do you think that’s a baby on the bottom of the paper?

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This is so much fun that this boy has made another mother panda with her baby.  Do you see how the colors function as symbols?  Black and white = panda.

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They remember seeing snow in the book and decide that would be a great feature to add to the painting. In recent weeks the children have explored concepts related to winter weather.  Although this panda book is offered as part of our work to learn about China and Chinese New Year, the painting experience is an opportunity for each child to pull together and represent many different things he is learning about the world.


The book that inspired our work is from the school library.


The pandas are playing on their playground.  The children found many common features with our playground here at school!


After their vigorous outdoor time, the pandas in kindergarten lie down for their rest.

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