Friday, February 24, 2012

Kindergarten Patterned Owls

Kindergarten recently worked on patterns, and I thought that owls would be a cute project for them to use their patterns on. This started out as a guided drawing, but once every student had a basic owl shape, they got to draw whatever patterns they wanted. They used crayons first, and then watercolor on top. I love the look of watercolor resist, and it's fun for the kindergartners to learn that technique!

As an artist, the idea of a guided drawing sometimes really turns me off. Students should be free to be expressive and creative. Cookie cutter projects where every student's project is the same are crafts, not art, and my students do real art.

However, I have found that starting out with a guided drawing can be good for young students (K and 1st) as long as there is lots of freedom later on. First of all, it gives students who are good at following directions (but not necessarily artsy) a chance to shine and be proud of themselves. Secondly, you can't think outside of the box if you don't have a box to start with! Those are my main two reasons to justify a guided drawing. At the end of the lesson, I noticed that no two owls are even remotely similar, so I think this lesson was a success!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

6th Grade Op Art Paper Weaving

Several weeks ago I saw a wonderful lesson on weaving on the blog There's a Dragon in my Art Room. I really liked the project, and thought my 6th graders would be able to handle it. However, since my students have not done weaving in the past (unlike Phyl's students, who have done a weaving project every year, and are pros by the upper elementary years), jumping right into a complicated weaving project would be a challenge! So, I started with the easiest form of weaving: paper weaving! After looking at various works by Bridget Riley, my students created their own Op Art by cutting wavy, curved, or zig-zag slits in their paper. They colored their paper strips with analogous colors (had to throw some color theory in there!), and numbered them on the back before cutting so they could weave them in the right order. Some of these really turned out beautifully!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Special Needs

It always makes me proud when my students show maturity beyond their age. Often, it is hard for young children to understand how to treat someone who is different.

One of the 2nd grade classes at my school has a boy who has a severe case of ADHD. His attention span is very short, and he is very impatient. However, he gets along with others very well, and I have really enjoyed getting to know him. I don't know how much the other 2nd graders understand about ADHD, but they all are aware that he is very impatient and gets frustrated if something takes a long time.

This week, my K-2 classes are taking a break from my regular curriculum to do a coloring contest for a "Cash for College" contest. They have to color a piggy bank, and then answer some questions about saving money. My ADHD student (I'll call him Johnny) came in late because he had been spending time with his high school mentor.

"Is this a race?" he asked excitedly.

"No, it's a contest. A race means that whoever does it the fastest wins. A contest means that whoever does it the best wins," I said.

"Oh," Johnny said, and began scribbling wildly on his piggy bank, not even stopping to draw a side view of a president on the coin like many of the other students did.

"Done!" he announced shortly, and I told him where to put his picture. A few minutes later, I came back to his table, and Jonnny was hanging his head and wouldn't look at me.

"Is something the matter?" I asked, but he shook his head, still looking at the floor.

"He thinks he might not win the contest," one of the other students explained. Apparently Johnny had noticed the skill level of the other students at his table, who were carefully designing their piggy banks with stars or flowers.

"Johnny, would you like to start over? If you messed up on your  first one, I have a few extras," I told him.

He was very happy to start over, and finally made eye contact with me. As he began working on his second picture, his whole table was assisting him.

"Color slowly so you stay inside the lines," one little girl encouraged. "Yeah, like that. That's really good!"

"And don't forget to color his ears," another student at the table reminded Johnny.

Finally, Johnny was done. "Wow, I bet Johnny is going to win the whole contest," the little girl at his table said with a smile.

Johnny was very proud to go put his picture on the shelf, and when the 2nd grade teacher came to pick up the class, he was the first to tell her all about the contest. I was very proud of the support and encouragement Johnny received from his classmates.

Friday, February 10, 2012

4th Grade Tessellations

I had never thought about tackling tessellations with elementary students until I saw a creative idea on another education blog, Lines, Dots, and Doodles. I began the lesson by showing tessellations by M.C. Escher. The students really liked his artwork! Then, I gave them little rectangles of card stock. They had to cut a shape out of one side and tape it to the other side, and then cut a shape out of the top or bottom, and tape it on the opposite side. It is important to use a piece of tape on both the front and back of the piece since they connect edge-to-edge without any overlap. Many students made several pieces before they got one they liked. 

Then, they traced their piece over and over again to cover a piece of paper. I was worried that they would find tracing tedious, but they liked that after you traced your piece the first time, you never had more than 3 sides to trace since the rest were already drawn. After covering their page, the students got to decorate their design any way they wanted, as long as they drew the same design on each part. I had  them do all of their outlines and designs in crayon, and then they used watercolors to paint everything.