I've been trying to get caught up on my high school posts lately and haven't written much about working with my younger students. So, we're gonna jump all the way to the other end of the spectrum and talk PreK today! Most of the PreK Arts Standards are about playing with materials, sharing materials and tools, and engaging in self-directed art making. I saw my PreK classes for 40 minutes every other week. I usually showed something new for them to try like cutting papers for collage, mixing paint to create new colors, wax-resist, etc., for the first half of class and for the second half (most of them aren't developmentally ready to focus on one task for a full 40 minutes) I let them choose to draw or play with the blocks and toy animals I have in the room. (Here is another post about PreK art)
One of the lessons I taught that had a teacher-directed theme was self-portraits. We used 11x17 inch card stock for this project. In the first day we talked about what portraits are and that a self-portrait is a picture you make of yourself. We talked about the ways we all looked alike and different- we all have eyes, a nose, a mouth but some of us have glasses, freckles, different hair, different colored skin. I pointed out that the things that are different are really cool because they make us look like "us!" Our school district is not very diverse but there were actually some PreK students of different ethnicities so I wanted to start talking about it in a positive way.
I asked the students how they thought we could mix color that would look like skin. The students guessed some colors and then I showed them how I usually start with brown, white, yellow, and red but use different amounts of each based on who I'm painting. I squirted the colors out on trays and students worked together to mix a color that they thought would match each students' skin. Next, we talked about how to take good care of our paint brushes and about what shapes they might use to paint a head and neck. After the students painted their heads and necks, we put the papers up to dry.
In the next class period, I had a bunch of different supplies that students could use to add features to their self-portraits. Students were most excited about crayons and collage. My preschoolers LOVE collage. I love how the students all finished their portraits differently and how their personalities and understanding of self is communicated.