Friday, February 23, 2018

4th Grade Clay Boys

This year my grade school chose a theme of "Oh the Places You'll Go". For Family Literacy Night in the fall, each grade had a different country to learn about- the students gave reports, performed dances, and just generally showed what they knew in a fun way. 4th grade chose Russia so I set about trying to design a lesson connected to Russia. I was first researching Russian art and getting a lot of depressing works but then a friend reminded me that she always looks at children's books- duh! I was able to request a few folktales from our library network and the one that gave me the best idea was Clay Boy, a folk tale retold by Mirra Ginsburg.
In the story, an old couple fashion themselves a little boy out of clay and he comes to life!- this reminded us of the Little Gingerbread Man. The big difference is that the clay boy eats EVERYTHING and everyone with a goat saving the day at the end.

I recently posted the lesson on the smARTteacher so feel free to check it out!

2 sessions; 40 minutes per session

1. SWBAT understand what a folktale is.
2. SWBAT create a simple figure out of clay
3. SWBAT add details to their projects to personalize

1. red earthenware clay
2. clay tools
3. fabric scraps
4. scissors
5. glue (students used elmer's and I used hot glue when needed)
6. yarn

Need these materials? Visit Blick!

1. Introduction
-The teacher will explain that folktales are stories passed down through generations
-Clay Boy is based off of a Russian folktale
2. Read Clay Boy or show video
-discuss: does the story remind you of anything else? Some will say it reminds them of the little gingerbread man
3. Work with clay
-demonstrate forming clay into a figure starting with a fat cylinder or rectangular shape
-cut clit to free legs and arms
-pinch to form appendages and shape head
-pose figure into sitting or standing
4. Let clay dry and fire in kiln
5. Finish sculptures
-students cut fabric scraps and form into clothing
-glue in place

1. Clay Boy by Mirra Ginsburg
2. Youtube video of Clay Boy reading


Visual Arts Standard 1:
Understanding and applying media, techniques, and processes

[K-4] Students use different media, techniques, and processes to communicate ideas, experiences, and stories
[K-4] Students use art materials and tools in a safe and responsible manner
[K-4] Students know the differences between materials, techniques, and processes

Visual Arts Standard 2:
Using knowledge of structures and functions

[K-4] Students know the differences among visual characteristics and purposes of art in order to convey ideas

Visual Arts Standard 6:
Making connections between visual arts and other disciplines

[K-4] Students identify connections between the visual arts and other disciplines in the curriculum

Form, Texture


Multicultural Studies

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Back to the Future Prom

When I interviewed for my current position, the principal asked if I would be interested in sponsoring Student Council and Prom since the previous art teacher held those roles. I said I would and I have really enjoyed both! I wanted to share some pictures from our DIY proms the last two years in case someone else ever needs inspiration for the same theme!

The first year I was really excited when students suggested Back to the Future for a prom theme. I had never heard of it as a theme before but I said we could absolutely make it happen! The first step was to start collecting inspiration which I collected on a Pinterest board.

We decided to reference as many parts of the movie as we could in different areas of our prom set up. We are a small school (about 130 high school students) so prom is definitely an all hands on deck kind of event as we transform our gym into a festive space. To make set up easier, we made as much ahead of time as possible.
 My favorite section was the Enchantment Under the Sea based off of the dance toward the end of the movie.
We already had some display boards for artwork that are two 4x8 frames hinged together. The woods classes built a few more for us and they work really well to divide the space and hold decorations after we cover them with SmartFab, which you can conveniently buy in 4 ft wide rolls. We cut starfish out of cardboard and painted, threw a decorative net on top of the divider, and made reef out of spray foam insulation. 
Smart-Fab also covered the front of the stage, lit from behind, with more spray foam reef on the front. We used fishing line and a needle to secure them in place on the fabric.

 Of course you can't have a Back to the Future anything without the DeLorean. I used the projector to trace the main shapes onto a piece of giant poster board. I painted and cut out the "Roads? Where we're going we don't need roads!" quote to stick up around the car along with a Speed Limit 88 MPH sign. We used red cellophane and red rope lights purchased on sale after Christmas to make the tire tracks.

My school has a tradition of having a program during the prom dinner so we added instruments to reference the dance on the corner of the stage. We borrowed the pep band's drum set and just taped in a poster board circle with the Marvin Berry and the Starlighters sign. Another student brought in a guitar to display.

I was trying to think of one more area of decoration and asked my mom if she still had the vintage dinette set we fixed up for my first apartment. Luckily she did so it turned into Lou's Cafe and held bottles of water for the dance.

 We decided the photo backdrop should be the town hall with the clock tower on top. This was painted on 2 full sheets of plywood with another piece to be the triangular section on top. You can kind of see the photo backdrop on the right side of the photo above. Another thing you'll see are the giant canvases. These are who knows how many years old (lots and lots and lots of layers of paint) but they're still going strong. They are 4x12 ft frames covered in canvas that we repaint yearly to decorate for the new theme.
The chandeliers hanging from the rafters were created the year before I started with tomato cage bases and circles of wax paper sewed together. They were so pretty and so much work for my predecessor that we wanted to get one more year of use out of them! Gossamer radiates from the center and we hung strings of small clear balloons that were supposed to look like bubbles for the under the sea element.
I wish I had a better picture of the Marty and Doc I painted along with #GreatScott for the last display!
For the centerpieces, my dad built boxes that were 4x6x4 inches with a hole drilled in the top center for a base. I printed a bunch of 4x6 photos of the Back to the Future logo with Prom 2016 text added on which we attached with spray adhesive. We printed and cut out a bunch of clocks on card stock and I used my Silhouette cameo to cut lightning bolts out of silver glitter paper. We sandwiched a plastic rod between the clock/lightning bolt combo and stuck them in the hole. We ran a roll of 19" silver gossamer down the center of the black clothed tables. For dessert, I ordered personalized sugar cookies that were decorated with all sorts of fun designs from our theme made by J's Delightful Desserts.

Enjoy a time lapse video of our set up!

I made quite a few changes the first year I was prom sponsor, and met a lot of resistance from seniors who heard it was going to be different... until they saw that we really did have a good plan and everything came out ok! Soon, I will share pictures from last year's Mardi Gras prom and in a couple months I'll be able to share what we've been planning for prom 2018!

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Documenting the Artistic Process

One of the National Arts Standards that I really like refers to documenting the artistic process. My "I Can" statement for the standard is:
VA:Cn:10.1.HS1- I can document the process of developing ideas from early stages to fully ready ideas.
I ask my intro high school students to document the process of their first theme-based assignment. After we've spent most of the 1st semester in bootcamps introducing techniques, media, and vocabulary, the students can apply what they've learned in assignments with much more choice 2nd semester.
When the students document their process from beginning to end they can reflect on all the little decisions they had to make along the way. 
The students can choose how to document their process but a favorite way is with the free app Stop Motion Studio. Most students have smart phones and this is an acceptable use of technology in my classroom. Some students take photos and put in a slides presentation or google doc, others take notes daily on their process. Either way, we emphasize that documentation is as you go rather than reflecting at the end.
Using stop motion yields short videos, usually only a few seconds long. I will post several examples below.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Theme: Nature/Science

Last year I debated between choosing nature or science as a theme in my intro high school class. There was so much overlap that I put them together. I showed students how a bunch of different artists have approached the theme as a way to get them thinking about different possibilities. As I talked to students about their ideas, I showed some new techniques we hadn't covered yet that might be of interest. There was a ton of variety in the students' work and this was a good early theme- broad enough that it could go in many different directions but safe enough that it helped students get used to more freedom. It will be the first theme for this year's intro classes because it was so successful last year.

Wheel thrown and hand built teapot

 I did a needle felting demo and several students played with the technique
 The Northern Lights
Weaving that incorporated sticks
 Lidded vase

Illustrations of animals were a popular choice
This student made her own embroidery pattern 
 This is a drawing of neurons.
 This drawing went on to earn 1st place in the Kansas division of the State Fish Art Contest!
 Right across the hallway is the biology room with lots of live animals. This student photographed a salamander (I think) and then drew it.
 This student brought in her rock collection and explored with wet on wet watercolor techniques to illustrate a few.
This was an 11x14 inch stippling made with different colors of sharpie based off of a photo of soap film seen through a microscope. It took a long time but she never got in a hurry and somehow kept her patience!