Part of teaching art is dealing with concepts that can be "boring" for kids. By this I mean all the guidelines for composition, color theory, tonal value, etc........So I'm always trying to find projects to teach them basic concepts but are a bit more fun. When you deal with composition you are trying to instill that "artist's eye", that sense of proportion that captures attention.
One of the main guidelines for composition is the Horizon Line or if you want to get fancy "eye level line or line of sight". I use Horizon Line as kids in Division 1 (Kindergarten to Grade 3) quickly grasp what a horizon is, we just look out the window. (Horizon: where the sky and the earth meet)
If you ask a child to draw a horizon line, chances are they will take a piece of paper and draw a line horizontally smack dab in the middle or will use the bottom edge of the paper as their horizon line so everything tends to be "floating".
We want to teach them the rule of 3rds but me talking about it won't get their attention they need to see for themselves and this is where my mini landscapes come in. Incidently this is an important concept for all you adult artists so give it a try.
Some of the things I collect for school are old calendars and mats. You need both for this project. You can also make a mat using paper strips taped together. Take a good landscape image and ask each student to place the mat on the picture and find a good view. Often kids choose a view with the horizon dead center.
Get them to move it around until they find a few good views. At this point I'll bring up the "rule of 3rds", how the picture seems more captivating if the sky and land are unequal.... if the horizon is in the lower third or the upper third of the picture. I also talk about putting an object of interest (like a tree, mountain) off center. Take some watercolor paper and divide into sections. Here I'm using 9.5x11 paper so I'm just dividing into quarters....if your picture is larger you can have more sections. Each area is only about 3x4 or so don't make them too large. (than it won't be a mini)
Keep painting 4 different views with the horizon in different proportion. For really young kids keep it simple, blue sky, the ground, and maybe a tree.
Leave to dry fully and then remove the tape. You can keep it as one page or cut into sections. A good display is showcasing the series of mini landscapes with the reference photo.
After completion I ask the kids to pick their favorite view and lo and behold it is usually a horizon in the lower or upper third. Give it a try and I'll see you next time.