Monday, April 20, 2015

Cinderella Story

The scope and sequence for my district this 9 weeks asks us to explore observational artwork with 1st grade.  Not an easy concept, and such a wide skill set with 1st grade.  Last year, I developed a neat little lesson which coincides with my 1st grade classroom teachers' exploration of Cinderella. (At least I think they do that).  Anyhow.  We start by learning the word observant, and taking a glance at a William Wegman book I have, where the dogs act out Cinderella.  Very wordy, but the pictures are cute, and it gets the idea of using humor to tell a story across.  We then take off a shoe- which the kids think is hysterical, and we draw it- being very observant, and trying to be as accurate as possible.  I have them trace with sharpie, color with crayon, and cut it out.  The sock/leg combo is added, and they write their name on the back- this is very important, because I then have them write 3 simple clues about themselves.  (I have green eyes, I have freckles, etc).  I then display the shoes and clues in the hallway, and we encourage those in the hallway to try to match the shoe to the artist.

The girl is in 1st grade-amazing when she's in the zone. 

Not sure if the hairy leg is funnier, or the fact that it's a girl...

She preferred pants to bare legs

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Sweet Art Project

In getting ready for my annual school-wide art show, typically held in March, my students and I used the heart as our jumping off point.  I was curious as a teacher to explore variations on such a simple theme, and Jim Dine is a very appropriate artist for elementary, and for February.  I did not foresee all of the snow we've had.  Our art show is now scheduled for early April. But, since I haven't seen my kids through 1/2 of February, and Spring Break is at the end of March-we're pressing on, and presenting our hearts in spring.

This little project was done with 2nd grade.  We drew a bunch of hearts.  The only rule was they had to show overlapping.  I did not care which way they turned them, and I even allowed stencils.  We then traced our designs with sharpie on overhead plastic, or acetate.  This allowed us to lay tissue on top, and trace pieces. Once we had the pieces traced, they were attached by spreading a thin layer of glue onto the acetate.  A large sheet of tissue covered the entire thing.  When the glue is COMPLETELY dry, the design can be peeled back off the plastic, and attached to white paper.  This gives it a stained glass look.  We constructed frames, and used black paint to add the contour lines.  The kids absolutely loved the look of it.  I like this project because it can be adapted to many themes- I've done ocean scenes with it as well.  All students can find a measure of success, because it is a lot of tracing.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Masks 3rd Grade

Every year, I teach a mask unit to the 3rd graders.  It's one of my faves.  There is a lot of buy in from the kids- they are so excited when I drop the word clay- and they'll do just about anything I ask, knowing that mask making is upon us.  In various years, I've presented a variety of themes; this year, my theme was... no theme.  Yep, I didn't make any requirements such as animal theme, or Day of the Dead Skulls- no requirement other than they had to choose a feeling, or a main idea, and their work would support their idea by shape, color, texture, etc.  A lot of choice.  We did practice sketches, talked about various ways they might approach this, and looked at a lot of masks, discussing the first reaction those masks gave us.  When it was time to paint, I again offered choice.  One side of the room was reserved for acrylic paint, the other for the oil pastel/black paint resist technique floating around pinterest lately.  And, finally, I had wire, pipe cleaners, feathers, beads and sparkles available. 

Thoughts?  I am fried.  This was a lot to manage.  It's not for the faint of heart. 
Did all students succeed?  Well- hmmm.  Not all of the masks were pretty, or well done.  Many students should have spent more time on their painting (but that's usually the case).  BUT- my kids are delighted. They love their creations.  They were so excited to take them home, and I didn't settle one argument about who did which mask.  They simply knew their work- they were attached.  And dying to see their masks at every stage.  There's a lot to be said for that. 
Will I do this level of choice all the time?  I'm not sure.  Will I increase the opportunities for choice?  You bet!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Kandinsky inspired art projects

Here in Nashville, it is Artober- a monthlong celebration of all things arty around town.  It's a lot of fun.  In our schools, we chose Wassily Kandinsky as a focus artist (he has an AMAZING retrospective exhibit at The Frist Center for the Visual Arts right now).  Here are some of my 3rd and 4th grade responses to his work. 

3rd Grade- we used Kandinsky's concentric circles as inspiration to create these amazing circle weavings.   I have the students plug the hole in the middle with a button for a couple of reasons.  It's cute.  Also, the center of the weaving is often filled with the most mistakes, since it's the beginning, and by the time we get to the edges, the kiddos are much better weavers.  It's a nice way to finish it.  I hot glued the weavings to mat board, and had the kids decorate the edges with colored sharpies.  It allowed for some element of choice in a pretty regimented project.


4th Grade- Little more complicated.  We looked at a variety of Kandinsky's landscapes from the more realistic to the mostly abstract, discussing how lines and colors can represent a feeling or an object.  I played Vivaldi's 4 seasons, and students sketched lines to each seasonal song.  From there, students created a circle, and divided it into 4 sections, and each section was to represent a season.  I had them use cray-pas to color, and we attempted some blending with baby oil.  This was hard.  Some had a difficult time with the idea of blending.  They wanted to just keep mixing the colors.  Others just colored as usual and put oil on top.  It proved to be a difficult concept that I'm going to have to keep working on.  But, in the end, there were some really great attempts.  Abstract was also a hard concept to teach to the students, I acknowledged that our brains naturally want to "file" everything we see into a definite category; we want to know what something is. And, we just kept trying and adapting.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Circle Weaving

Thanks to the generosity of my supporters at Donors Choose my students were lucky enough to gain a beanbag and comfy pillow set for the carpet area in the art room.  Did I mention that my principal was supportive enough of my goal to establish a reading corner/meeting spot that she found the money for the carpet?  WOW!  I have had a meeting spot for a few years, with foam letters (hard to clean, and a built in distraction for the littles), but it wasn't big enough for my older students, and it wasn't very warm in the winter. Now, there is space for all of my students, even the older ones.

Anyway, the whole set up happened earlier this week, just in time for my circle weaving project with the 3rd graders.  My deal with them has always been that as long as they are working, they can sit whereever they want to weave.  This week, the deal was once you show me your first color woven correctly, you may go to the carpet to weave with your friends.  The students were very motivated by the beanbag chair and pillows.  And, to my surprise, there was not an argument- they settled things among themselves by establishing a line along the pillows.  It became the norm for everyone to move down a spot when the person in the beanbag chair got up for more yarn.  (I had an arms length rule, so the time was fair). Towards the end, the kids figured out that more than one person could fit on the beanbag, and did a great job sharing. 

Who knew a beanbag chair would bring such unity.  And, the weaving is turning out pretty well too- they were very encouraging of each other, and cheering/admiring their friends as the colors grew. 

***I am very very careful about student images on my blog.  I almost never use them.  In this instance, the students are not looking at the camera, and I tried for some group shots, rather than individual close ups.


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Kindergarten Cuteness!

 "Kandinsky, a Retrospective" is just opening at The Frist Center for the Visual Arts.  In response, the MNPS teachers are introducing a lot of his work to our students, as part of "Artober" a month long celebration of the many artistic things that Nashville has to offer.  My Kindergarten crew has been looking at Concentric Circles, and learning about how artists use shapes and colors to create.  In their classroom, they are learning about the concept of families.  Sooo, I extended that idea to color families, specifically The Primaries, and we used concentric circles to make just about the cutest birds ever. I went to a workshop in preparation for Artober,  where the idea of turning a concentric circle into a bird was suggested.  I decided to beef it up a little by bringing in the family idea as well as introducing primary colors.  I supplied cups and lids to trace, and had cut paper into 6 inch and 3 inch squares, so the students knew they had to trace 3 bigs, and 3 littles. In an effort to offer choices, students were encouraged to combine the circle colors in whatever way they wanted, but I did point out that 2 of the same color would not show up as well.  We talked about placement, and how the size of the birds and the way they were grouped might represent family.  Another choice offered was feathers.   I placed the box of feathers on my supply table, and after talking about how color might represent family members (perhaps even their own), they could choose whatever feathers they wanted (2 per bird).  I demonstrated how to snip the corners of scraps to "steal" the triangles, for beaks and feet.  Finally, I allowed students to choose their own eyes- whatever sizes, etc.  If my high fliers (forgive the pun) had spare time, I had paper available for clouds and sun.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Cityscapes with 1st grade

Greetings all- it's been awhile, but if you are reading this, you probably know how crazy the beginning of a school year can be.  The kiddos are amazing this year, but there is so much to do!

The 1st graders have been exploring architecture; specifically cityscapes and skyscrapers.  We began by looking at a variety of city structures such as the Brooklyn Bridge, the Chrysler Building, Willis Tower (in the old days, this was The Sears Tower) and other buildings.  We compared and contrasted, and to get a little math in, we used the "Greater Than/Less Than" symbol as we discussed features, sizes, etc.  And, we each created our own skyscrapers, which were assembled in the hall to make a giant skyline. 

This project stemmed from that.  It's an oldie, but a goodie- the kids think it's just magical.  I had the students fold their paper lengthwise and draw a cityscape across the top.  They used water soluable cray-pas to color and trace.  While I didn't force a lot of small details for this project, I did encourage a variety of buildings.  When the students had completed the coloring, sky included, I sprayed their paper with water, they folded, and rubbed.  When they opened, it revealed a reflection of their city on the bottom half of the paper.  I made this a one day project to assess how we were progressing with the idea of city buildings, but you could extend it in a variety of ways- having students do preliminary drawings, or layer colors, or even be a little pickier about pushing hard and tracing important details.

I don't know what it is about this one- but I love it in an abstract sorta way.