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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

iPad Tray African Masks

When our school received 30 iPads they had recently purchased, I found the computer teacher unpacking the boxes.  As he pulled each one from it's sleeve, they were resting in a black cardboard tray that immediately caught my eye.  I asked if I could have them, and of course my wish was granted.  I instantly saw African masks in these trays, and an art project was born.  
Using donated mat board scraps, metallic markers, white prismacolor pencils, feathers and glue, we transformed these trays into fantastic tribal art.  I showed the students a PPT on African Masks I created, and we discussed this ancient art form and saw many visual examples before we began.  I explained that their masks needed to have symmetry, using geometric shapes and lines as much as possible, and since giving students a starting point is usually good idea, I suggested they begin with the eyes.  We talked about the different shapes of eyes they could make, then moved on down to the nose and mouth.  Once they had the basic features in place on the mask, they could add all the fun details.  
The students really got into decorating their masks.  Other decorations that could be used would be; assorted colored beans, beads, sticks, raffia, and any nature findings that would work in the design of the mask.  I only wish we had received more than 30 iPads so that more classes could have made these!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Good Luck Dragons

3rd Grade students made good luck dragons in honor of Chinese New Year.  Using recycled items; egg cartons, paper towel tubes and paper cups, students created an armature for their dragons.
Foil was fashioned into a tail and eyes were made from recycled paper that was balled up and taped on the head.  The next step was to paper mache the dragons' body- I gave the students a choice of red, yellow or green, but any colors would do.  Once the paper mache was dry, it was time to decorate.  This part was so much fun!  The students used metallic markers to draw the scales on the body, tissue paper fire was placed in the dragon's mouth, eyes and nostrils were painted on, and horns were made from pipe cleaners.  The wings were made from gold metallic scrapbooking paper I purchased.  The students were shown how to fan fold their triangles to create the wings, then we put glue along the top edge of the wings and dipped them into glitter, to give it an extra magical touch.  Claws were made from scraps of black construction paper.  
The students enjoyed the PowerPoint on Chinese Dragons, learned a little bit about another cultures' traditions, and had a blast creating their sculptures.  This project required three art classes, that would normally last 50 minutes, but since I don't have a class that comes in right after this one, the three classes were all extended ones.  Otherwise, this project probably would have taken about 4-5 classes to complete.  For this reason, after the second class I made these with, I saw the writing on the wall and decided to do oil pastel drawings of dragons with the rest of the third grade classes.  I'll do a post on that project soon.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Arts Education Facts

quick facts

Did You Know?
Young people who participate in the arts for at least three hours on three days each week through at least one full year are:
  • 4 times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement
  • 3 times more likely to be elected to class office within their schools
  • 4 times more likely to participate in a math and science fair
  • 3 times more likely to win an award for school attendance
  • 4 times more likely to win an award for writing an essay or poem
Young artists, as compared with their peers, are likely to:
  • Attend music, art, and dance classes nearly three times as frequently
  • Participate in youth groups nearly four times as frequently
  • Read for pleasure nearly twice as often
  • Perform community service more than four times as often

    ("Living the Arts through Language + Learning: A Report on Community-based Youth Organizations," Shirley Brice Heath, Stanford University and Carnegie Foundation For the Advancement of Teaching, Americans for the ArtsMonograph, November 1998)
The facts are that arts education...
  • makes a tremendous impact on the developmental growth of every child and has been proven to help level the "learning field" across socio-economic boundaries
    (Involvement in the Arts and Success in Secondary School, James S. Catterall, The UCLA Imagination Project, Graduate School of Education & Information Studies, UCLA, Americans for the Arts Monograph, January 1998)
  • has a measurable impact on at-risk youth in deterring delinquent behavior and truancy problems while also increasing overall academic performance among those youth engaged in afterschool and summer arts programs targeted toward delinquency prevention

    (YouthARTS Development Project, 1996, U.S. Department of Justice, National Endowment for the Arts, and Americans for the Arts)
Businesses understand that arts education...
  • builds a school climate of high expectation, discipline, and academic rigor that attracts businesses relocating to your community
  • strengthens student problem-solving and critical thinking skills, adding to overall academic achievement and school success
  • helps students develop a sense of craftsmanship, quality task performance, and goal-setting—skills needed to succeed in the classroom and beyond
  • can help troubled youth, providing an alternative to destructive behavior and another way for students to approach learning
  • provides another opportunity for parental, community, and business involvement with schools, including arts and humanities organizations
  • helps all students develop more appreciation and understanding of the world around them
  • helps students develop a positive work ethic and pride in a job well done

    (Business Circle for Arts Education in Oklahoma, "Arts at the Core of Learning 1999 Initiative")

    Saturday, February 12, 2011

    Cityscape Collages

      5th grade students made these striking neutral collages of cityscapes as their first art project of the year.  I found it was a great way to begin the year in art, because it wasn't as intimidating as drawing is to some students, and each student could be successful with this project.  We first looked at a PPT presentation I created on  "The City in Art".  We discussed paintings of the city by various artists, what a skyline is, what makes a skyline interesting to look at besides the sheer size of the skyscrapers (the variety in the skylines' rooftops, sizes of the buildings- some tall, some shorter, the colors of the buildings), and we looked at our own Houston skyline.  I asked the students what they noticed about our citys' skyline on their trips into the city with their families, what their favorite building was and why, how tall they thought the skyscrapers were and how many windows they had, and what happens in the everyday hustle and bustle of the city (transportation, people moving from here to there, where are they going, what are they doing).
        Last, I showed them a photo taken of three buildings with different styles of architecture in Houston; the photo was of one building in front of the other, the shortest one in front, then the medium sized one in the middle and the tallest at the back.  It showed how the buildings overlap one another.  It also showed three distinct styles of architecture in our citys' history; one from the 1970's, one from the 1980's and one from the 1990's.
        Before teaching this project, I tore the cardboard layer off of sheets of cardboard scraps to reveal the corrugation.  I cut them into various sizes of rectangles.  I cut newspaper clippings into various sizes of rectangles, as well, being careful to weed out any inappropriate ads or pictures or text.  I also cut black, gray, and brown papers for buildings.  Included in our supplies were; glue, black sharpie markers, white prismacolor pencils, and scissors.
        I handed the students a brown piece of paper as their background, a gray piece of paper to tear for their road, and piled a variety of materials for their buildings in the center of their tables.  They were free to choose the papers in the sizes and colors they wanted.  I instructed the students to make interesting rooflines, overlap buildings, fill their papers up with them and most of all, make sure there was a lot of variety in their building sizes and rooflines.  I demonstrated different ways they could cut or add to their papers to create them, and told them not to be concerned with the finer details of their buildings in the beginning, that would come last.  Right now they were "building" their citys.
        Once the students had glued the buildings to their papers, it was time to add those details; windows, street scenes, billboards and signs, newspaper clouds in the sky, were some of the suggestions.  As usual, they totally blew me away with their creativity and imaginations!  This project allowed them the freedom to express their own ideas of the city and what they know and feel about it.  The wheels were spinning in their heads as they were deciding on what papers to use, what buildings they could have in their artwork, how they were going to make all the windows on their skyscrapers and what types of details they wanted to add.  I reminded them about the scale in their project; making sure they didn't make their doors or windows too large, or a sign or a person the size of a skyscraper, that they would be tiny in comparison.
        They all loved working on this project.  Not a student in the class didn't know what they wanted to do.  It was great to witness them so engaged and working with their hands and their minds to problem solve and make choices and decisions.  They also found it interesting to work with the cardboard and the newspaper, commenting they didn't know they could make art with those materials.  The recyclable aspect of the project was appealing to everyone.
        This project took about three art classes to complete.  When they were done, we had cityscapes galore and an entire school ooohing and ahhhhing over them.  They were amazed at how creative the students were and how beautiful their art was.  Since the project was such a hit, I decided to expand on this architecture theme in art and have them create 3D buildings using paper folded into right angles to make the structures of the buildings... more on this project to come.  We had to put it on hold, since I teach 9 weeks at a time at each of my two campuses.  It was time for me to go to my other campus, so we put away our buildings until I return... that's life in the big city!

    Sunday, February 6, 2011

    Bodies in Motion!

        1st Graders learned in art class about how their bodies move, with the joints that bend us and allow us to redirect ourselves in a myriad of ways.  We looked at art work by Edgar Degas (his ballerinas), Keith Harrings' wonderful street art of simplified figures moving and dancing, and African American Folk artist Jacob Lawrence, who did many paintings depicting the expression and emotion of the human body.  I asked the students what they noticed about the way the people in the paintings were positioned, and how it made them feel to look them.  What did they think the people in the paintings were feeling?  They said, "Excited!", "Happy!", and one student said,"Tired" when they looked at Degas ballerinas.  I imagine those ballerinas were tired.  I asked them if they thought the artists asked the people they painted to lay down on a canvas so they could trace them.  They all knew that an artist wouldn't do that.  Because an artist that paints people and animals needs to understand the way our bodies move, how our joints bend, and what positions we can get into and which ones we can't.  We talked about the fact that our elbows and knees can only bend one way, and we all got out of our seats to try to bend our limbs as many ways as we could!  We found that we could bend backwards and forwards, from side to side, our head, feet and hands could bend the same.  
        So, after we made some funny looking poses, I showed the students how they could make a foil figure that they could bend like a real person.  This was a trick I learned at a summer art conference at the museum.  First, take a piece of foil (about 4" x 6") and make two tears, about 2" long, evenly space apart at the top of the piece as it stands vertically long.  Then make one tear up the center, about 2", so that there is foil in the center that is not torn (this will be the torso).  Next, scrunch up (I know, this is highly technical terminology) the foil at the top into three sections, being careful to keep their length (in other words, don't fold it over or ball it up).  The center piece of foil will be the head (this can be balled up slightly to make it look like a head shape).  The two bottom pieces are scrunched up next to make the legs, then finally, the center is scrunched together to make the torso.  I told the students that they couldn't trace their foil figures-remember, a REAL artist would NEVER do that!  I demonstrated how they could bend it in as many ways as they wanted (being careful not to bend it unrealistically), and look at their figure, studying the lines that it made in order to make a contour drawing of it.  And by George, they got it!  I couldn't believe my own eyes!  1st graders making wonderful contour drawings of the body in motion!  They made them standing on their heads, doing back flips, the splits, jumping in the air- they told me what their figures were feeling- "Mrs. Gallow, my person is so happy because they got an A on their schoolwork!"  They absolutely LOVED their foil people and wanted to take them home.  This was a two part project, so we needed to keep them to help us with completing our art the second class.  I paper clipped them to their work as I put it up.  But, I told them, ask your mom or dad for a piece of foil from the kitchen and show them what you can do.  Make one at home and practice your drawings of people moving.  They will be amazed! The second art class they could take them home.
        Finally, after their contour drawings were done in pencil, I had the students trace them with a sharpie and color them in with colored markers.  I encouraged them to make more concentric lines going around their contour figures and to get creative with what types of lines and designs they could add to their artwork.  The drawings are electric with energy and so much fun!  I think that my art students, in first grade, are well on their way to understanding how to draw a person in motion... I can only imagine what their going to be able to do by 5th grade!


    Saturday, February 5, 2011

    Torn Paper Animals

        While the original idea for this project (Torn Paper Zebras) was found on the wonderful Deep Space Sparkle Website, I decided that since I have (6) 2nd grade classes, that would be waaayyy too many zebras hanging around this art room!  So, I decided to make this a unit on wild animals, making a Power Point Presentation for each class on a different wild animal to introduce our animal and our art project.  So far, we've learned about zebras, lions, tigers (2 classes made tigers) and owls.  Still to come are giraffes.  2nd grade students love to learn and talk about wild animals... really, who doesn't?  They're endlessly fascinating.  We not only learned about the animals and their habitats, but also about different types of animal art, how the animals are the subjects of sculptures, paintings, drawings, graphic design, and more.  
        First, the outline of our animals was drawn using an oil pastel, then we tore and pasted stripes, manes and feathers on.  Next, the students cut their animals out and glued them to another sheet of paper that would become their animals habitat.  Students got creative, making rainbows, suns, clouds (even rain clouds with raindrops falling from them!), grass, water, rocks, trees, flowers, moons and stars.  They really enjoyed this project from start to finish and so did I... we learned a little about our animals and a lot about how to take what we learned and create a wonderful work of art from it!

    Tuesday, February 1, 2011

    String Prints on Painted Paper

        3rd Grade students created these sophisticated prints on painted paper.  Wanting to introduce printmaking to them, I thought an easy way would be by making relief prints from plate cards made with foam core and string glued on top in an abstract, linear design.  I love the look of prints made on painted paper, so I first had the students created their papers.  We began with primary colors, as I showed the students how to mix them to create secondary colors, then choose which colors they would like to paint on their papers.  I discouraged them from mixing their colors on their paper (so as to avoid muddy results), but instead, beginning with their lightest color and creating an interesting shape or stroke of the paint they liked, then laying a new shape or stroke with the next darkest color next to it, and building their painting in that way.
        Once their paintings were complete, I showed them how to create a simple, abstract line drawing on a 6" square piece of paper.  Their only instructions were to use their space in an interesting way (i.e.; not leaving one side of the square blank and not making too small of shapes), and to not draw too much detail, as this would be difficult for them to cover exactly with yarn.  After they made drawings that were satisfactory to them, they transferred them onto a 6" square piece of foam core.  Using glue to trace over the lines and yarn to lay down on top of their glue, they created their string printing plate cards.
        During the next art class, after their papers and plates had plenty of time to dry, the students were ready to create their prints.  The idea was to make multiple prints on  their 9" x 12" paper.  They chose either white or black ink to make their print with, rolled onto their plate with their brayers, then placed them first in the corner of their papers, rubbed them well, and made their first print.  The following prints just lined up on the paper one right after the other until the entire surface was covered.
        The students enjoyed the printmaking process very much and have asked me when they can make more prints.  Ahhh, there are always too many things to create and too little time!