Saturday, January 28, 2012

Kindergarten Dancers

Katie Meets The ImpressionistsThis lesson started off with me just wanting to incorporate Dance with Visual Art. One of the KSDE Visual Arts standards is about students making connections between Visual Arts and other disciplines. I remembered that my mom had give me the book "Katie Meets the Impressionists" by James Mayhew, and when I reviewed it, I thought it might work well. It tells the story of a little girl who visits an Art museum with her grandmother and is able to climb through frames into the paintings and have little adventures with the people there. Toward the end of the book she ends up performing on a ballet stage with Degas' dancers before escaping through the frame back into the museum. *After reading to the first class, I skipped a few paintings from the book so the Kinders were more likely to still be interested when it got to the dance scene at the end.

We talked about dancing and watched some short video clips of ballet performances on YouTube. I actually found a ballet based on Degas' paintings but ended up focusing on a clip from Swan Lake since it showed the male dancer doing lots of lifts and I wanted to show that it's not just "girly". Everyone was impressed with the skill of the dancers. Next, we talked about our joints and how they let our body bend and move. We practiced moving our necks, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees, and ankles. I think this is important- the students are much more likely to try to draw what they see when they are reminded of this. Finally, the students took turns posing like dancers in the giant frame while their classmates made gestural (as gestural as Kinders get) drawings of them, trying to show movement.

In the next class, students who hadn't had a turn posing got their chance and the students either added costumes to their first drawings or made a new drawing of a dancer using oil pastels.  These were more about the process than being gallery-worthy finished pieces. I am still developing my philosophy of teaching and so far it's just been "a little bit of everything"- giving the students a little guidance but sometimes keeping my distance so they can discover and do things their own way. 
I'm guessing this is dancers doing a lift.
This is by one of my PreK students. :)
They all found their own ways to show movement.

This student actually sort of made a gestural drawing using crayon!


  1. These are all so charming!! I love the idea of the cardboard box frame -- I can see where that would have a LOT of great uses. Thanks for sharing!!

  2. What a lucky group of kids you have to teach :). Love the giant frame!
    Stay inspired!

  3. I envy your motivation!!! Great ideas!

  4. Love the TABLEAUX that they did in the frame! So cool!

  5. What a neat idea! I bet your students had a lot of fun with that. Only you would come up with something like that. :) Art teacher of the year?.....

  6. I love this! Thank you for sharing. I wish you would tellme what you did with the rest of the grades too. where you all studying Impressionism, or dance, or....

  7. If I remember right, at the time 3rd grade was working on Polar Bears (, 2nd grade was working on shaded snowpeople, and 1st grade was working on organic shape monsters ( I probably only have all grades working on the same theme a few times a year. I'm not quite that organized!

  8. Wow- I struggle teaching figure drawing to my high schoolers and you're doing it with Kinders! Respect!