Thursday, October 27, 2011

2nd Grade Kalahari Animal Silhouettes

 This is the lesson my 2nd graders completed for the African Art themed project the Art teachers in my district were doing K-12.  I found another artist whose work I really enjoy and the students respond to on the Art of Africa.  The painting (image from Pinterest below) is called "Crocodile and Elephant" and was created by Andry Kashivi, an artist from Southern Africa.

This lesson ended up taking three 40-minute class periods.
Day 1: Introduction.  View and discuss the artwork with lots of emphasis on description and breaking the painting down to elements.  After the students identified the animals, they learned the word silhouette (ok, some learned it) and identified the shapes in the background as organic.  I told them that they would be creating artwork inspired by Kashivi's paintings with brightly colored organic shapes in the background and the silhouette of Kalahari Desert animals on top.  After the first class, I realized that I would need to guide the students through drawing their organic shapes or they would never, ever finish painting. I asked them to draw two lines from side to side and one line from top to bottom that were a "medium amount of curvy".  I had to get kind of specific or some went crazy with lots of loops and I knew it would take too long to paint.  I did tell the students that their shapes did not have to look exactly like mine, they just needed to use the right kind of lines to get a good amount of shapes.  Most classes had enough time to begin painting at the end of the first class.

Day 2: Finish painting! I put trays of tempera paint in bright yellow, orange, magenta, and green at each table.  Students who painted fast added a second coat of paint.  We all really enjoyed the bright colors.

Day 3: I showed the students images of Kalahari Desert animals and put black and white copies at their tables.  The students were given a half sheet of black construction paper on which to draw their animals.  Originally I was going to have the students paint the silhouettes but they acted freaked out and said they would rather cut.  I'm undecided on if this was a good move or not.  In my demonstration I showed the students how to just draw the outline of the animals, not all the details on the body.  I spent a few minutes modeling cutting the shapes and showed them my tricks for tricky areas.  I also asked them to flip the animals over when they glued so that no pencil marks would show.  Some remembered, some didn't. In the last few minutes of work time, I showed the students how they could use the end of their paintbrushes to make dots for eyes with white and red paint.  You can see in the picture below that some went a little crazy with the dots!

The next picture is a comparison of 2nd grade cutting skills. The student on the left was really careful and didn't chop off any limbs. (I did show students who accidentally cut off legs how to glue both pieces on their paintings so that they touched "like puzzle pieces".) The student on the right... well, I'm not sure what kind of animal it was supposed to be.  Even though some students struggled with cutting, most were trying hard.  Some just cut out blobs of shapes and didn't cut in between legs, for example, until I asked them about it.  Then they acted confused!

I think if I were to teach this lesson again, it would be with older students.  These examples are probably the best results from the grade.  I think it was just a bit too tricky for most of my 2nd graders to translate the shape of animals, and not so familiar animals at that, into silhouettes.  I think the silhouettes would have been easier to see if they were painted instead of cut out but then the drawing would have been a problem.  But, we reviewed shapes, learned about some new animals, and had fun making some colorful artwork so in that way, it was a success. You can see the rest of the student artwork in our Artsonia gallery.

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