Wednesday, April 27, 2011

3rd Grade Architecture 2 Ways

One of the Visual Arts standards in Kansas addresses trying out a variety of media and comparing and contrasting media.  (I don't have the exact wording with me.)  I thought it would be interesting to have students use the same image in two different ways.  Last fall one of my 3rd graders asked if they could draw imaginative buildings and I thought it was a great idea so I made sure to write it down!

On the first day of the project, the students worked on black scratch art paper.  I have a bunch left from the previous art teacher and I'm not super impressed with it.  Some of the students have a really hard time getting the lines started.  I tried sharpening the wooden styluses (is that the right plural form?) because some were getting dull and it didn't make much of a difference.  I just told them to do their best and keep trying until they found the right angle to hold it or a way that worked for them.  I introduced the concept of architecture to the students and only one out of over 100 knew what an architect was since he aspires to be one!  I read somewhere that telling people to "be creative" can actually inhibit creativity and that asking them to make something only they would think of is a better approach.  I kept that in mind and asked the students to draw a building only they would design.  I encouraged special features- we had flying buildings, buildings that looked like cookies (fun fact, a building that is shaped like something is called a duck!), buildings with simple machines, special entrances, and security features incorporated.  I always have students check with me when they think they are done.  I asked the students to tell me what was special about their building and encouraged a few to add more design elements if the building was on the plain side.  The majority of my students were really in to this project.  Some students who had never really talked to me besides to answer a quick question went on and on describing their buildings.

Each student was given a half sheet of scratch art paper.  When they were finished, I gave them a 9x12 inch piece of white drawing paper which they folded "hamburger style".  The scratch art paper was glued to one half of the drawing paper and then the students were to draw the exact same image from the scratch paper on the other half of the drawing paper.  The students drew in pencil then traced with sharpie and colored with crayons.  I reserved the last 10 minutes of work time for writing.  I asked the students to compare and contrast the two drawings in whichever way made sense to them (Venn diagram, list, sentences, etc.) and describe the special features of their building.  I mentioned "pretend you are trying to sell your building so you want to tell the buyer all the cool things you made" just to try to get them to be descriptive.  Some students took it literally and wrote an ad for their buildings, I really LOVE that idea!  All in all, I think this project turned out pretty good and would be worth doing again.  I always like to incorporate writing and only had to send a few back to the classroom for students to finish since they tried to get away with not doing it in Art class!

Writing from the back of a project
The writing below goes with this drawing

The writing below goes with this drawing
 This drawing is by the student who wants to be an architect.  I was super impressed for two reasons.  1- I have never covered perspective* so this was intuitive! 2- For some reason this student does not use the pincer hold for his pencil and holds it in his fist.  Somehow he makes it work!

*I haven't covered perspective yet partly because I am not super comfortable with perspective using rulers and partly because I don't know when, meaning at what grade level, it should be introduced!


  1. I LOVE that you so successfully incorporated writing into this assignment, it really drives home the compare/contrast aspect of your state standard! I am still trying to find a way to follow through with an end-project writing/assessement activity...I find it especially challenging since everyone finishes at a different pace but the early finishers are really impatient to start the next project and I start having lots of behavior issues:( thanks for sharing your positive experience, i'll keep trying!

  2. I have found the trouble with the scratch board arises from the oil in their fingers. I demonstrate this to the students by rubbing my fingers on a scrap bit and trying to etch. Not much happens. Then I demo holding the scratch board by the edges and holding it still with a small piece of paper towel....much better! Just give your students a paper towel to handle the scratch board and it will be much easier. Best of Luck!