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.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Another Year begins

I can't believe that summer is winding down already, and it's time to get back to work. In my last post, I talked about some thoughts I had regarding the start of this new year.  One being my request to Donor's Choose in order to beef up my reading spot, and make it bigger, and more condusive to big and small groups of all ages.  It's not completely funded yet, so if you or someone you know is willing or able to help I'd sure appreciate it. In the meantime, I re-organized my books, and sorted them for better access by the kiddos.  It's a simple sticker matching system which I hope at least helps the books stay in the right bin.  I am still playing with table arrangements, in order to better group my students. 

I am super excited about how the entrance to my room is looking though.  Some ideas (like the potato head parts) were from pinterest. 

Finally, about a year ago this time, I was sent a sampling of "Smart Fab".  I was asked to try it out, and give my thoughts.  But, I was returning from Maternity leave, and just didn't get around to it.  I used it this year in setting up my bulletin boards for the hallway. So, here goes.  I found pros and cons.  It is a very lightweight fabric, which cuts and staples easily, and makes for a nice backdrop on a bulletin board.  Because it's fabric, you can either stretch it tight, or manipulate it to get some fun movement.  It is kind of thin though; since my bulletin boards are still pretty new, and unscarred, this was not an issue for me. In my old classroom, where the boards were older than I, and marked up with markers, staples, and pencil holes, I'm not sure there would have been enough coverage without using multiple layers.  The colors are really bright: I'm looking forward to seeing how they hold up over the school year. And I'm curious about using the leftovers from the bulletin boards to weave with.  All in all, it's a fun find, which could have a lot of uses in an art room.  For that matter, I think it could be a good addition to a simple theater set. 

I think it's going to be a great year, I begin my 18th  year this August, and I gotta say, I'm still just as excited to get back and set up as I was the first year.  Here's hoping you can say the same. 



This board was created with 2 colors of Smart Fab-not completely happy with the draping yet, but that's a me issue, not the Smart Fab

Found the Horizontal/Vertical idea on Pinterest. 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Looking Ahead

Hooo Boy, I made it through another year.  This year had challenges because I came back into the school year balancing being a mommy with being a workaholic art teacher.  But, it was a good year, filled with fun projects.  As I look ahead to next year ( I did say workaholic, right?) there are new things  I'd like to try, and some things I already do, that need a little re-vamping.
1-There's a lot of conversation out there about "Choice Based Art Education".  Now, I haven't done all the research, and I firmly believe that my role as an elementary teacher is to teach a skill set, which includes a variety of supplies.  And, I don't think you can introduce choice without a strong skill set.  And, I do try to offer some choices within projects.  Not much cookie cutter art going on here.   However, my principal is supporting my goal to continue to add choice to my lessons.  My classroom is going to have a "demo" table next year, where 4-5 kids can sit and work with me as needed. 
2- Grouping.  Most of us have the tables broken up into groups of 6-8 kiddos.  I noticed this year, with an especially large 2nd grade, that while some kids loved being elbow to elbow with their besties, others needed space. ( I had one artist who would always come up and sit on the floor- he needed the space).  So, instead of making my tables into equal groupings, I'm going to explore some combinations in which some groups are not made up of as many tables.  so, one group may have 6, and another may be a single 2 seater table.  Still gotta look at lay out on that one.  
3- I have always had a "meeting spot", where my K and 1 meet up with me, and we intro before we hit the tables.  When I move to the new art room, I added bookshelves, and tried for a reading corner.  And, it's ok.  But, here's the dream- and if you can help, or you know someone who can, I'd love it. I put in my first ever Donor's Choose request.  My ultimate dream would be to have a large carpet, with a couple of bean bags and pillows, and a sturdy shelf to organize the books.  I envision a space where we can all meet, but more importantly, where students can generate ideas, read for enjoyment at the end of a project, meet with a small group, etc.  And, I think it's important to have it be a warm and inviting comfy place to sprawl.  Any donations made in the next 7 days, and using the code 100WOMEN at checkout will get their donation matched up to $100.  How cool is that! 

Anyway, those are my thoughts for next year.  If you are anything like me, you've got some of your own reflections- and I'd love to hear them. Until then, HAPPY SUMMER!

Monday, May 5, 2014

(Not So) Sweet Dream Pie

Introducing narrative art to the 1st grade crew is not always easy.  They tend to lean on words to tell their stories, and it's a struggle to get them to draw the action, and leave off the words and arrows (you know, the word tree pointing to the tree in the picture?).  I don't know what made me think of trying this method, but it worked very well, and it's going in the "Keeper" file.  I read the kids the book "Sweet Dream Pie"; a cute story about a group of neighbors who eat too much sweet pie- and their dreams are not so sweet.  We then made 3 lists - a list of characters, or creatures, a list of actions, and a list of places.  Students were to pick one from each list, and create a picture- perhaps a giraffe, jumping rope at a birthday party?  The crazier the better.  This method allowed students to have a concrete thing to draw, but also allowed great freedom of choice.  I did lead them in constructing a "pie".  It was a good review on cutting/basic craftsmanship and direction following, and it gave my more hesitant artists some comfort.


A Giraffe wearing a birthday hat at his party.


A cat, jumpng rope in outer space

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A Social Studies Tie In

I know many art teachers hesitate to tie their art projects to Social Studies or Science, lest we be asked to make paper mache' globes, or solar systems. I however have found a few projects over the years that are much richer in content and quality because I tie them to what the students are doing in their classroom. I don't do this all the time, because I have my own curriculum to cover. When contemplating whether or not a collaboration will work, I consider what materials and content my students are already going to be using in art, regardless of subject matter. I also consider time frame. In this instance, 4th grade students used famous Tennsesseans to create timelines in Social Studies.  They already had information, books and knowledge about their person. I was supposed to  cover printmaking anyway, so I had each student draw a portrait of their chosen TN personality.  We looked at the work of Andy Warhol and discussed his celebrity prints.  Each student created several prints (6''squares) from their printing plate (good ole styrofoam) and when dry, selected their best 4 prints, arranging them in a grid. It was a logical tie in, and because the classroom teacher had already assigned the students their person, and the librarian already had pulled the books, I didn't have to worry about having enough information, or settling arguments about subject matter. It worked well.



 
Oh, and do you use Artsonia?  I do.  And, I don't have a fancy iPad or such to use, so I take pictures with my camera, and upload the old fashioned way.  I find that the best, and quickest thing to do, is to lay every piece out, walk down the line and take all of the pictures, and walk down the line one more time (same order) to write names and take grades.  While the pictures are uploading, I load all the grades into the software program we use in MNPS.  So, I kill alotta birds with one stone, and it's not too time consuming this way.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

File Folder Neigborhoods

I am lucky, in that I see my kids every 3 days, for an hour at a time.  However, the flip side is that there is the potential to go through a lotta art supplies, especially with the Kindergarten crew, who tend to do shorter art projects to begin with.  So, how to keep their interest at the end of the school year, and not empty my supply cupboards?  File Folders.  Huh?  I had a bunch of leftovers, that the office was gonna ditch.  So, I wrote each student's name on one tab, and came up with this.  In MNPS curriculum, Kindergarten is to work on houses this 9 weeks.  They drew their own house, and we've been talking about how shapes work together to make things.  So, on the bottom of the inside, they used scraps, and created a neighborhood.  (3 houses was my requirement, some did more). At the end of art, it was a snap to clean up, and any necessary unglued parts could just be stored with their folder.  The next session, we did tissue collage on the top, to be the sky.  Then, they could continue working on the neighborhood.  Next session, we will finish the sky, by adding birds, bugs, hot air balloons, etc.  I am thinkging just having them draw contour line with sharpie.  And, my final plan is to have them create themself and their friends on the exterior of the folder.  So, there you have it.  Cheap, a great review, at least 4 artclasses of work (depending on how you stretch it) and fun, cause to the K's its kind of like a secret, with the picture being inside.  I'll let you know how it turns out, but so far, I think I love this idea.