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Saturday, August 4, 2012

Integrating Music & Art

It began with a single teach the art of Romare Bearden to my fourth graders.  As I researched Romare's life, a major theme began to emerge, his love of jazz music and how it influenced his art.  I realized I could not teach about his art without teaching about the music and the exciting time in our history known as the Harlem Renaissance.  But, anyone that knows really me knows that I am not musical.  I love music, and I love to sing, and I appreciate almost all genres of music.  But, I am NOT musical.  So, I decided to ask the music teacher if she could teach our students about Jazz, to set the stage for the art.  She agreed, enthusiastically, and our integrated lessons began to form.  Then I thought, there are SO many wonderful books on the subject of jazz musicians and African American artists form that period in history, that maybe the librarian wouldn't mind reading the students books on the subject.  She decided to read books to the lower grades, and let the upper grades do research and write about a favorite artist or musician.  The computer teachers had the upper grades do Power Points on jazz, choosing their favorite jazz instrument, musician and artist, writing about the Harlem Renaissance,  and setting it all to music.
The lessons in art were as follows:
Kindergarten; Jazz Cat Collages
1st grade: Mardis Gras masks and necklaces
2nd grade: Jazz Instrument relief prints
3rd grade: Jazz Instrument Paper collage
4th grade: Romare Bearden Inspired mixed media collage
5th grade: Paper Mache Jazz instruments
There is so much I could say on the subject, and looking back on my blog sometimes I feel as if I write too much about a subject.  So I will end with a few student comments about the integrated curriculum, and ask you to message me if you would like additional information about any of the lessons or how we went about doing this in our school.
"I learned more about the saxophone by making one that I would have by reading words".
"Now when I spend the weekend with my grandma and we listen to jazz on the radio, I can tell her what kind of jazz it is and I know some of the artists.  That makes her smile really big".
"I learned about jazz and art better because I had it in all my classes".
When we asked the kids if they got tired about hearing about the same subject in all their classes, they all said "No way!  It was fun!  We wish we didn't have to stop!"

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Art is Cooler than TV

Art is...Cooler than TV

In my art room I hung two large sheets of butcher paper on my walls below my windows.  One says "Art Is..." and the other says "Today in Art I Learned...".  When my students are finished early with their projects, one of the things they can do is write on the posters.  There are rules (and yes, I have had a couple students break them).  The rules are...write only school appropriate statements on the posters.  Try to think of something more meaningful to say than art is fun or cool (it is both of those things, but we have A LOT of that on the posters...think of something more original to say).  It is not to just write your name must SAY something.  No inappropriate drawings.  The students have completely filled the papers up and I will be replacing them with fresh papers in the new year.  It has touched me, made me smile and laugh and made me realize the impact that art and my class have made on my students.  Writing and fine arts go hand in hand...they are the best ways to express ourselves.  What words can't say the fine arts can...but, words are powerful.  (I have typed out what my students wrote below each picture to make it easier to read, some with their misspellings, some corrected if I thought you just wouldn't be able to tell what it said. :) 
Art is My Life, My Soul, My Generation. Art is Me!
In art I learned that you still can be smart if you mess up.

(Art) helps me learn new things.

I love art because it expresses me.

Art is to show your feeling.
Art is a way to have fun.

Art is...Sweet, Awesume, Cool, Fun, Wonderful.  :)

Art is what you need.

(I learned how to draw a bird. I like birds. I believe that I did a beautiful bird.  I love art!)

That art is for you to express yourself.

(Today in Art I learned) that I am a very good at art.

(Today in Art I Learned) how to draw a blue dog.

(Today in Art I Learned) how to make a fish.  How to do step by step.

(Today in Art I Learned) I love art and myself.

(Today in Art I Learned) Keep Trying.

Art is a way to have fun.

Today I learned how to draw a bird.
Art come from the heart.

Art smart class is cool.

Art is...Radical.
Art is a thing I am addicted to.
I love Art. It is so amaving, asowome, cool for everyone.
Art is cool.

Art is...Creative.

Art you show your felling that come from your heart.
Art is Fun.

Today in Art I Learned...(I learn to draw a bird).

Art fill my heart with joy and Ms. Gallow is the best art teacher.  (Vernecya, you fill MY heart with joy!)

I learn how to make a bird and I like birds.  Mrs. Gallow show us her picture when she was 6 and her picture was beautiful.  (I framed the first drawing I remember making...a bird that I rubbed with a crayon when I was 6 years old.  My mother freaked out when I showed her and said it was the best bird she had ever seen.  She gave me a photo album to put my artwork in and I have had that drawing ever since.  I decided to put it in a frame and bring it into my art room.  My students are always asking me, when did you first start doing art?  What was the first thing you ever drew?  Did you like to draw when you were little?  So, I brought in my bird to show them.  They were just as encouraging as my mother...they all told me how beautiful my bird was.  That's all any of us need is a little encouragement, a little affirmation that what comes from us is good and beautiful, because maybe that means that we are, too.  I'm drawn to art because it brings me joy, and I hope that I can instill that same sense of joy in my students, no matter what they're interested in.  

I love art and I learned how to draw a blue dog and I learned about the artist George Rodrigue.

Art is my way to express myself.  I love Art.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Homemade Crayons

If you're like me, there's about a hundred million broken crayons in all types of containers here and there around your art room or your house.  You can't bear to throw them out, because you think one day you'll get around to making something with them.  Well, today's the day!  Here is everything you ever wanted to know about making crayons, but were afraid to ask;

1. Put the broken crayons in a tub or sink.

2. Fill with warm water.

3. After a short period of time, maybe about 15 minutes, the crayon wrappers will come right off.
4. Save the wrappers and dry them for use in collage, or make paper pulp with them. 

5.  You could actually skip this step, but I like to sort my broken crayons in an egg carton before I put them in the baking tray.  This is just to get a supply started that I can keep adding to as the crayons are melting in the oven.  That way, I am ready with more broken crayons already sorted for the next round. Plus, I just like to sort.  :)  The thing I love the most about these crayons are that they are diversity in a square!  Color families live harmoniously together in one square block.  Regular crayons, metallic, construction, glitter, different tints and shades, melting and molding together to make one beautiful crayon.  They are actually a feast for the eyes; to behold a box of them makes my students gasp.  They all say they look good enough to eat, and they do, but I don't recommend it.  :)

6.  To make these cool square crayons, use a silicone brownie bite pan, found in any craft store's cake decorating section.  And yes, you can use any silicone tray with fun shapes for a different type.  The square ones are perfect for the art classroom, because they have several applications; rubbing for textures, filling in large spaces, rubbing out shapes of things and then going over with paint or watercolor markers, and using the corners for making thinner lines.  Spray the pan with baking spray (if you skip this step, it's okay, you'll still be able to get them out of the pan).
7.  Bake at 250 degrees for about 30 minutes.  I like to put mine on an old baking sheet so that it makes it easier taking the molten squares out of the oven. Let cool and harden.

8.  Pop out of pan and behold your little masterpieces!

9.  Hold so that the wide flat edge of the crayon sits flat on the paper and rub.  Give as gifts and they're great for student incentives.  If you have any other tips or tricks with making crayons, please let me know!  I would love to hear your ideas.  And the next time you feel like having a meltdown, grab some broken crayons and make it a productive one!  :)

* I would like to thank my fellow art teachers in Humble I.S.D. for sharing this *recipe* with me.