Sunday, October 16, 2011

Cardboard Construction and Water Painting

I'm sure we've all read a lot about using stations or centers in the Art room.  I don't use them regularly, but I do utilize them at least a few times a year.  I used stations last week with some of my 3rd grade students.  I wanted the students to type artist statements for their first projects into Artsonia so while one student at a time was doing that, the others were rotating to different stations.  I wanted to come up with stations that did not involve drawing, just for something different.  One, geometric shape tile pictures, I had used before but I tried a couple new things.  I had 4 stations total and the groups rotated to each during the class period.  They ended up with about 6-7 minutes at each station.

1. Water painting on the chalkboard!  I read about letting Kinders paint with water on sidewalks at the beginning of the school year and that idea stuck with me. (I first read about it on B Art Z but I think the original idea came from Hands Head n Heart)  One day I was trying to explain to some students how to turn their brush to cover a wider area and it popped into my head to show them with water on the chalkboard.  I guess this is one time I prefer it to a whiteboard.  For this rotation, I just put styrofoam cups with a little bit of water in them and big brushes on the chalkboard tray and let the students paint lines with water.  I didn't tell them what to paint, just let them explore and be amazed at their temporary paintings.  It worked pretty well besides when a couple students decided to use the brushes to fling water instead of "painting" with it.  We just wiped with paper towels to speed dry time for the next group.

2. Building with recycled materials.  This was so obvious that I can't believe I never did it before!  I save all my paper towel tubes.  I like to use recycled materials for projects, I just have to have over 100 of anything before I have enough for each student to do a lesson.  I pulled out some paper towel tubes, cardboard pieces, plastic trays that someone gave me, and the little "ladders" I saved from old watercolor trays.  I told the students when they were at that table, they just had to build something from the materials working together with their group.  I did not set a specific challenge.  Some used it to create architectural designs, some decided to see how tall of a tower they could build.  I did put a stop to the tall tower thing temporarily when students started to climb on top of the tables to reach higher.  Honestly, they were being careful and I think it would have been pretty safe (my brother and I were always doing stuff like that when we were younger) but I figured since we were at school and I don't want to get in trouble, they could only build towers as tall as they could reach from the floor.  It was cool to see them learn about balance and figure out how to make the structures more sturdy.  The students asked when they could do it again!  There was definitely lots of critical thinking and problem solving happening!

I found a big tub of blocks so one other station was individual building.  This student wanted me to take a picture of her tower, too.

I have plans for other non-drawing (not that I don't love drawing) stations but I have yet to test them out.  I promise to share the results after I do test them with students.


  1. I love reading your blog! I especially love this one. I am currently student teaching and I have some questions about this lesson. 1. Was it in between units or did it go along with anything else? 2. Did the students pre-write their artist statements and how long were they? I would love to incorporate writing and process oriented lessons like this, but have yet to see it be done in my teaching program experience, so I love that reading your blogs gives me ideas about what will or will not work! Thanks!

  2. The stations were sort of in between regular lessons. At the end of a full project, I reserved a class period for writing artist statements. The stations were a good way to keep the students busy (only one was writing at a time since it was being done on my computer) doing some fun Art and problem solving activities. I did not have the students write anything this time until they were looking at their artwork on the screen. I didn't give them very much instruction since I wanted it to be kind of a pretest. Before they wrote artist statements about their second project, I modeled talking about my example and asked them to cover "what, how, and why" as well as a judgment sentence. So basically they told me what they made, how they made it, why they made it (what we were learning about), and how they think it turned out- if they think it's perfect or would do something differently, etc. I tried to give them more feedback but not really correct them at this point. We'll keep working on artist statements throughout the school year. I've also had students write statements when they finish early (on notebook paper or the back of their artwork) and that works pretty good except for the students who would work on their projects forever if you let them since they never have time!

    Here are a a few more writing activities/lessons I've tried: