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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Four Seasons Prints and Collages

    This was a lesson that could be done with many different themes, but for second graders that were learning about the seasons, it not only helped reinforce what they were learning in science and writing, but, it helped them to think about color (warm and cool families), taught them about the printmaking process, and showed them how they could add dimensionality to their art with collage.  
    To begin, I read them a book about the seasons and we discussed the adjectives that described each one.  What did each season make us think of?  How does each one feel?  Look? What colors do we see?  Then we talked about a tree, and how a tree looks different in each season.  We discussed how to draw a tree with bare branches and what lines we would use.  The students practiced drawing a tree on scrap paper first, because I explained that once they pressed their pencils into the foam board, their drawing could not be erased.  Each mark would show up in their print.  
    After doing a quick practice sketch, I gave each student a 4" x 6" piece of foam board and instructed them to draw their tree in the middle, being sure to use their space wisely, not drawing it too small.  I told them to add a horizon line to their drawing, as well.  Once they had made their tree drawing, it was time to print them on their paper.  For each second grade class, we tried printing different colored inks on different colors of construction paper, so that we wouldn't have 5 classes with the same exact looking project.  I set up a printing station in each classroom (this is the school where I teach art from a cart), and I called the students up by tables.  They would bring their colored construction paper with their name on the back, and their tree drawing.  I would ink their drawings, and they would roll the brayer over the back of the drawings to make the four prints.  I found this was the most efficient way of doing this part of the project, but it was very time consuming, taking the whole class period to finish.  
    Once the prints were complete, they were set aside to dry until the next art class.  During our next art class, the students were shown how to collage leaves and snow onto their trees and the ground areas of their pictures.  We tried different collage materials or media in each class to make our leaves and snow.  One class painted theirs on with q-tips dipped in tempera, two classes used felt, one class used small pieces of wadded up tissue paper and one used colored construction paper pieces.  Each had nice results, but I think the most visually interesting projects were done with either the tissue paper or the felt.  
    After the students completed the collage part of their project, they were instructed to write about the seasons using the adjectives that we had talked about.  They wrote around the perimeter of their picture quad in pencil, then they traced over their writing with fine point sharpie markers and erased the pencil underneath.  The bilingual classes wrote in Spanish and some students chose to write rhyming sentences that read like a poem.  The students were very proud of their work and received many compliments from admirers.  Their art was just gorgeous on display throughout the hall!

Paper Sculptures

    Kindergartners made these beautiful paper sculptures using construction paper scraps and a lot of creativity!  Learning about shapes is basic to art and to math, and is something that kindergarten students are very familiar with.  Even geometric shapes are being taught at this grade level- cubes, prisms, etc.  The students have seen the shapes and even held them in their hands with models in their classrooms, built with them, done puzzles with them, cut them out of handouts, but, most have not constructed them with their own hands.  The students absolutely loved making circles, ovals, spirals, squares, arches, zig zags, overlapping and interconnected shapes, and even shapes that have no name!  As they cut, twisted, folded and glued, you could just see the wheels spinning in their heads!  One student told his classroom teacher in a soft voice, "I'm so excited".  She asked, "About what?"  He pointed to his art work and said, "About this".  He perfectly described the feeling in the room... one of excitement and joy as each child was discovering what they could create with their minds and their hands.  He perfectly described in his quiet little way, why I do art and why I am an art teacher.  When I see what I can make with my mind and my hands, when I see what my students can make, I feel so excited... oh, the possibilities!  If I can do this, what more can I do?!!!  Let's find out together...

Character Puppets

 This project was a great way to incorporate writing with art!  3rd grade students designed puppets and wrote a short story about the characters they created.  Before we began, I read them a story with beautifully detailed pictures and descriptions of the main characters.  We talked about how the students could think about a character they would want to create- What would it look like?  Would it be an animal, a person, an alien, etc....?  Where would it live?  How old would it be?  Would it have a job?  What kind of adventure could they dream up for their character?
    After brainstorming ideas for our puppets, we began with creating the head of the puppet using about a golf ball size amount of Model Magic that we attached to the end of a handle we made by rolling up the long side of  a 9" x 12" piece of construction paper and gluing it closed.  I demonstrated ways the students could mold the clay to make the facial features and hair, by either pulling out the clay from the piece or adding to it.  Once they completed their heads, they were set aside to dry until the next art class, when they would paint them and add other details like google eyes if they liked.
While the heads were drying, the students could work on decorating a paper bag that would be their puppets' body.  We used metallic and Gel FX markers that showed up well on the brown paper bags.  In our next art class, the students added arms and legs using either construction paper or paper bag scraps.  We cut a hole in the top of the bag (which is actually the bottom of the bag) and inserted our handle with the head in the hole.  When the bag was opened up, the students could put their hands up inside of the bag and hold the handle to play with their puppets.  Once the puppets were assembled, the students wrote the short stories about their characters and pasted them on the back of the bags with a glue stick.  It was so much fun when the students shared their puppets and their stories with the class!  This was a project that really tapped into their creative thinking and it showed in the results- their puppets were fantastic to look at and their stories were imaginative and humorous.  Sharing their art work and their stories was also a part of our learning with this lesson- the students were reminded about how to be a good audience member and be respectful of each others feelings.  Only positive comments were allowed.    It was great to see how the students were so encouraging with one another and found ways to compliment each others work.  This project was definitely a big hit!