Monet's Water Lily Murals
Green Reflections -- left panel
Water Lily Activity
from Monet and the Impressionists for Kids
Subject: Visual Arts
Grades / Level: K-6
Students will learn about Claude Monet's wall-size paintings of water lilies then create a
classroom mural decorated with Monet-inspired water lilies that they paint, cut, and fold into
Length of Lesson
Two 45-minute lessons
By making thier own 3-dimensional water lilies students will understand how Monet's loose,
colorful brush strokes come into focus and seem to shimmer when seen at a distance. When
the lilies are displayed together in a mural, students will understand the size and impact of
Monet's wall-size paintings.
Students will be able to:
• identify the Impressionist style;
• discuss how Monet painted his wall-size paintings, which fill the Musee Orangerie;
• use paint to create their own work of art inspired by Monet;
• cut, fold, and engineer a 3-dimensional piece; and
• work as a group to create a mural.
• Image of Green Reflections -- left panel by Claude Monet
• Activity Sheet: Monet's Water Lily
• Materials listed on Water Lily Activity Sheet (note: plastic lids are not used for this project)
• 1 water lily pattern per student
• Blue construction paper -- 1 sheet per student (or at least 20 sheets total)
• Tempera paint in shades of blue and green
• Small sponges for sponge painting
• Masking tape
1. Show students an image of Claude Monet's wall-size painting Green Reflections while
reading About the Art (see below). Ask students to look at the image up close to see the loose,
unblended brushstrokes of the Impressionist style. Next, have students stand at a distance to
see how the brushstrokes seem to come into focus. Ask them what words best describe
Monet's painting. Answers might be: shimmering, fuzzy, colorful. Next, ask students to
imagine what it would be like to be a painter who was loosing his eyesight, and what it would
be like to get your eyesight back.
2. Show students the virtual tour of the Orangerie Museum. Ask them to imagine what it would
be like to stand in the middle of the gallery, surrounded by Monet's shimmering art. Tell them
that they too, as a class, will make a wall-size masterpiece. Each one will contribute a painted
and crafted water lily for the piece.
Virtual tour Orangerie: http://www.musee-orangerie.fr/homes/home_id25184_u1l2.htm
3. Demonstrate how to create the water lily using a printed pattern. Show students how they
should use their brush to paint dabs and dashes of several colors on the petals and lily pad.
This is the technique of Impressionism. (See the activity sheet for details.)
4. Now for the lily pond background. Demonstrate how to sponge-paint a sheet of blue
construction paper using the Impressionist style -- refer to Monet's Green Reflections painting
for color ideas. Note: each student should fill the blue paper as he or she wishes. They do not
have to cover the entire piece with paint, but some of the edges should be painted so that the
individual sheets blend together when hung. Set up one table, covered with newspaper, for
the sponge painting.
5. Hand out lily patterns for students to paint. When they are finished with their pattern they
should write their name in one corner and set it aside to dry. Each student should then paint
one sheet of blue/green background.
Before class: tape the blue/green painted background sheets onto a wall, touching
side-by-side, to create a rectangle.
1. Demonstrate how to cut, fold, stack, and staple the painted lily pattern. Note: for this
project, you will not add the plastic lid under the lily pad.
2. Hand each student his or her painted pattern so they can construct their piece. When
finished, each should write their name on the underside of the lily pad and bring it to the
blue/green wall. Help them decide where to place their flower in the pond, and tape it in
3. When all lilies are in the pond, ask students to discuss how their piece is similar to Monet's
painting and what it is like to stand in front of their shimmering work of art.
About the Art
When Claude Monet was 76 years old he decided to paint a series of enormous water lily
murals. They were over 6 feet high and up to 55 feet long. These murals would cover the
walls of two large oval rooms. He built a special studio to paint them in. By now, he had
painted so many water lilies that they were etched upon his mind -- he could paint them in his
studio from memory. It was fortunate that Monet could rely on his memory because he was
losing his eyesight to cataracts. (Cataracts make it seem as if you are looking through a
hazy-yellow film.) Finally, Monet had an operation on his eyes. It was a success. He was so
happy to see the clear, bright world again! At age 84 he said, "I'm working as never before,
happy with what I'm doing. . . .I only ask to live to a hundred." Monet was able to finish his
water lily murals before he died at age 86. Today they line the oval walls in a museum in
Paris called the Orangerie. -- from Monet and the Impressionists for Kids -- 21 Activities by Carol Sabbeth