Tuesday, July 31, 2012

1st Grade Art History Inspired Trees

For one of their last projects of the school year, my 1st graders made Art History inspired trees! The first half of the first class was spent viewing and discussing a PowerPoint I put together with an assortment of works from Art History depicting trees. I wanted to show a variety of trees for several reasons- I didn't want the students to feel like they should copy a famous painting and I think the students need to see that Art doesn't have to be totally realistic to be "good". When I set about making a presentation, I realized I could only think of a handful of paintings with trees in them. Then my world was changed when I discovered WikiPaintings.org. WikiPaintings allows you to search by artist or keyword. I searched for "tree" and got more results than I could possibly have shown. I went through and selected several. 

I don't think my presentation was chronologically organized, I'm pretty sure I just added slides in the order that I found them. I've embedded the document below so you can have a starting point if you want to make your own PPT.
I told the students they would be making trees but that the style and type of tree was totally up to them. Then there was an added challenge- the students were not allowed to use a paintbrush! I gave students the option of drawing their trees in black tempera paint using a popsicle stick or a twig. They were pretty excited about this! I did have a couple papers end up totally black, but I suppose that could have happened in 1st grade even with paintbrushes.
 In the second class period when the papers were good and dry, the students added color with crayon and tempera. They started with crayon- maybe rolling a crayon for sky and grass or adding more branches, then they were still not allowed to use paintbrushes for the tempera paint. Instead of a paintbrush, the students could use just one finger. Most did a really good job and probably got less messy when they were allowed to use one finger than when they paint normally. They were trying to be really careful.
Take a look at some of our very varied results below!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Kindergarten Sunflower Drawings

Whoops! This one got away from me. This lesson was from waaaay back in January. It seems so long ago now that teachers report back to school in a little over a week! Kansas Day is January 29th so I had planned a Kansas-themed project for each K-3rd grade in January. My plan for Kindergarten was to integrate some more Art History by making Kandinsky-inspired concentric circles to use as the center of drawn sunflowers. The concentric circles turned out too cool to cut, so I changed it into two lessons and. The students learned about Vincent van Gogh and his sunflower series, as well as how a sunflower grows. We even watched a time lapse video of some dwarf sunflowers growing, then because the students had lots of energy that day, each found his/her own spot on the floor and acted out a sunflower's life cycle from seed to wilting.
Source: youtube.com via Katie on Pinterest

My inside-the-classroom bulletin boards were full, and honestly, they're kind of hard for big groups to see, so I made a portable van Gogh display that I could hold while the students sat on the floor around me for our talk. I wrapped a skinny box I had saved in yellow butcher paper then just stapled in some of the van Gogh sunflower prints I had recently been given as well as some labels- his name and dates, the word "sunflowers" and the word "series" with the definition, "several works based on one idea".
The first class period was spent talking about sunflowers and Vincent van Gogh, and getting pencil drawings laid out on black construction paper. Some students finished drawing early and were excited to recognize one of the sunflower prints they had just learned about in a book.
The next class period was spent adding color to the drawings with construction paper crayons. Admittedly, it was a struggle to get the students to cover all the black paper. Most got the point where I decided it was as solid as it was gonna get. Now that I ordered some better tempera paint, I might try having the Kinders paint on black construction paper instead of coloring.
Yes, this is the same photo from above... I wanted a drawing to be the first photo that showed up but I also wanted you to see this drawing next to the other two. I was so impressed by this 6 year-old's drawing!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Sand Surrealism and Artist Statements

I wrote about my Surrealistic Sand lesson that I teach to 3rd grade last summer but I just had to share some results from this year. This project can be a challenge for students but it is such a different way of working than they are used to that I love teaching it. The students learn about Surrealism and Masson's Battle of Fishes then use the automatic process of drizzling glue and sprinkling sand on it as the stimulus for their idea.
This student remembered Dali's Swans Reflecting Elephants from my Surrealism PowerPoint and was so excited to show me that his project is a stingray from one direction and an elephant from the other.
Cygnes Refletant Des Elephants - Salvador Dali
Swans Reflecting Elephants via WikiPaintings
Here are a few others:

This year my SMART goal was focused on improving 3rd graders' ability to express ideas in Artist Statements. When my students write Artist Statements, I ask them to answer "What, How, Why, How"- What did you make? How did you make it? Why did you make it (what were we learning about)? and, How do you think it turned out? While I didn't meet my goal, I did see big improvements from the "pre-test" Artist Statements at the beginning of the year that were mostly something like "This is a fish. It's pretty."

I thought it was funny that this student made her project because "number one I did not want to get in trouble"

Pick and Draw- Cartoon Drawing Game

Have you heard of Pick and Draw? Pick and Draw is a cartoon drawing card game that was a big hit with my students. I won a copy of the game in a blog give away this spring and was excited to try it out. Here's a brief explanation of how the game works: the cards are sorted into the categories of Face, Nose, Eyes, Mouth, and Hair. You pick a card for one category at a time and everyone playing draws what's on the card. It may sound like everyone is drawing the same thing, but that's not the case! Well, you might be drawing the same lines and shapes, but the size, orientation, placement, etc. provide a lot of possibilities for creativity within the constraints of the game. There is even a card in the set that shows two different-looking faces that were drawn using the same lines to explain the concept. After the basics are drawn, you go back and add more details to develop the character.
If you visit the website, www.PickandDraw.com, you can spend a few minutes exploring, watch a video of the creator, Rich Davis teaching the game to students, and even try it out for yourself with some sample cards online.

I've only played this game with students once so far, a class of 1st graders on an "extra" class when the schedule was kind of weird. I'm excited to try it out with some older students this year. I used the website to introduce the game and used the paint program on my school laptop to demonstrate with the sample cards online. I think with older students, you could probably have each table draw a card for each category, but since I was working with 1st graders, the whole class used the same card. After the drawing was finished, I let the students vote on making another cartoon, or spending more time on their first cartoon. Almost all of them wanted to keep working on the first cartoon. They added more details and even wrote information about the character. You can see in the photo below, the students started making a list of gender, name, age, and likes. I think he ended up filling the rest of his page writing about the character. This game could be used even in the general ed classroom as a writing prompt.

My game showed up in the mail on a Friday and I was too anxious to wait for a chance to try it out at school. My 6 year old niece was in town so we tried it and she LOVED the game. The next couple times she saw me she asked to play it again. I'm going to order a copy for her birthday- they are only $10 on the Pick and Draw website!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

1st Grade "Value" Money Lesson

Last fall when our district Art department was learning about African cultures, a middle school teacher who had visited South Africa spoke to us about her trip. She shared a lot of interesting/inspiring information, but what stuck out most to me to inspire an Art lesson was a comment she made about their money. She showed a photo of bills from South Africa and said (I'm paraphrasing here) "We have dead presidents (and Ben Franklin) on our money, they put animals because that's what is valued." The idea of money not just being valued, but showing what is valued stuck with me. 
We spent time looking at money- REAL money when I passed out $1 bills for observation and images of currency from the US and other countries. We watched a video about how US bills are designed and printed (careers in Art, people!), compared US bills to South African bills, and came up with features that are common in most printed money before the students designed their own bills showcasing what they value
I've decided to embed the complete lesson and post some of the resources we used below, as well as student work.

Currency of the world
Source: google.com via Katie on Pinterest

The video above is Field Trip to the Money Factory- it was created by Kids.gov and shows interviews with a banknote designer (talks about symbolism) and a script engraver.
These were the required elements of the students' designs.
I think if I teach this again, I may try using colored permanent markers for the details instead of crayon. A lot of the first graders struggled with wax-resist. Some didn't press hard enough with the crayon and some scrubbed when painting and practically dissolved their paper. They were very proud of their money and couldn't wait to take them home to show their parents. I would also like to try this with older students sometime. I bet 5th and 6th graders could make some awesome designs.
I let the students pick whatever amount they wanted their bill to be worth. If I had realized sooner that 1st grade works on number recognition to 100, I would have asked that they choose a number 1-100 to integrate some of their math curriculum.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

2nd grade Painting with Scissors

 I like to use Matisse to teach 2nd graders about shape. The last 2 years we've spent time learning about Matisse and his artwork, then the students used construction paper to create their compositions. Some of the students did a nice job but most struggled with the idea of overlapping while maintaing some sort of balance. (Gluing so many layers that you can no longer see the cut shapes was common.) To try to remedy that we painted the background with paint and created the foreground by painting with scissors.
Source: youtube.com via Katie on Pinterest

The first class period was spent on introduction- we watched the video of Matisse painting with scissors, above, then a PPT presentation of his artwork- and creating the background. The students used rulers (if they wanted) to divide their 9x12 inch paper into geometric shapes. The students were given tempera paint in the primary colors to fill in their spaces. In the second class period, the students used construction paper scraps to make organic shapes. When we discussed Matisse's artwork, the students liked to point out "ish" shapes since we had recently read the book by Peter H. Reynolds. I asked that one of their organic shapes be an "ish" shape and some could just be free form. The students this year actually did a pretty good job controlling their glue but some still can not understand (or choose to ignore) the "just a dot, not a lot" reminder. :)
This student missed the first day so I asked her to start by selecting some large geometric shapes to glue down before moving on to organic shapes.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Laminate Scrap Monoprints

I love the laminator. It comes in so handy when preserving sample artwork, bulletin board elements, etc. for future use. But every time I laminated something, I found myself wishing there was a way to save those scraps of laminate from the trash can. I started stashing the bigger pieces until I could find a way to use them. It turns out that laminate scraps make a great matrix for monoprints!

My older students (4th grade) made monoprints in one class period. I explained that usually printmaking can yield several identical prints, a MONOprint means "one" print and. We rolled a piece of tape to hold the laminate down on the table to make painting and printing easier. We used tempera paint and it does dry rather quickly so painting fast enough was the biggest challenge for the students. To print, we flipped drawing paper over on top of the wet paint and rubbed gently with our fingers. I didn't have a template for making prints even since the laminate scraps were not all the same size, so we just chopped the dry prints on the paper cutter to even up the borders.

I gave my first class of 2nd grade students the chance to draw a plan on paper first, slide the paper underneath the laminate scrap for a guide, then paint. Problem: this confused the students and several painted on the paper instead of the laminate or printed on the ancient copy paper instead of the nicer drawing paper. After the first class, the students painted directly on the laminate scrap instead of drawing first. If the students messed up, they could wipe it off and start again. 

When I saw the dried monoprints made by 2nd grade students, some were, well, hard to define. To remedy this, students trimmed and mounted their monoprints on black construction paper, used color sticks to create lines, shapes, and patterns in the border, and then touched up their prints by filling in gaps with color.

When I was student teaching, my mentor teacher taught a lesson where students created pictures by fusing tissue paper pieces on top of laminate scraps with modpodge. The tissue paper peeled right off when finished and looked awesome hanging on windows. Do you have a clever way to reuse laminate scraps?