Sunday, January 30, 2011

Coiled Bee Hives Age 6

This clay lesson is a fun way to introduce the coiling technique while making something other than the usual pot or bowl. The project starts with a longer coil and the coils get shorter as you build up and close off the hive. Then bees are made from the clay and slipped and scored before they are attached. Yet again, because I did this project at camp and did not have use of a kiln, I used Crayola Air-Dry clay. I still recommend regular firing clay if it is available. The dried pieces were then painted with tempera and glazed with acrylic gloss medium. Overall I think they came out pretty cute. This would be a fun lesson to tie into a science unit about pollination, honey production and bee colonies!

Some students liked yellow hives and some liked brown, here is one of each:

Overlapping Objects Age 8

So this was a challenging art problem for some of my summer camp students. I asked them to choose an art supply to trace over and over again making overlapping designs. Then they were asked to use only a few colors to fill in the outlined designs. The complex part was that where the parts overlapped they should have chosen a new color. Most of the students stuck to a particular color family, for example, using only cool (blues & greens) colors. I allowed them to use either markers or watercolors. Rethinking this project, I would 1.) use smaller paper and fewer objects, 2.) use different media and 3.) insist on a black outline in Sharpie so that the overlapping areas stand out more.

Nonetheless, here are some of the better samples of student work from this project experiment:

Friday, January 28, 2011

Mr. Roboto Ages 6 & 7

This lesson is very fun because it uses recycling, painting, assemblage, and glow-in-the-dark wiggle eyes!

Step one: Make hand-painted paper using various metallic paints. I pre-cut the papers to half-sheets (6x9) and let the students paint four sheets each. At least have to use more than one metallic color, maybe striped or using some other pattern. The other two sheets can be one solid color each. The papers need time to dry, so it is best to paint when finishing up another lesson or before starting a mini-lesson.

If you plan to do a lot of work with painted papers, it might be a good idea to have a paper painting day. Paint lots of 6 x 9 papers, metallic and others, to suit whatever painted paper lessons you have planned for the year or the next few weeks. They make great collage papers, background papers, etc., and the scraps work well towards the end of the year when you have limited supplies to work with. After the papers dry, give each student a "folder" to keep their papers in so that they will have them available for future projects.

Step two: Either bring in or have students bring in small boxes, like those from jello, powdered water flavorings, toothpaste, etc. These boxes are perfect for making small robots.

Step three: Use the boxes to trace onto the painted paper (unpainted side). Trace around the boxes, using all sides. The traced shapes get cut out and glued onto the box sides to make the robot metallic. As an extra step, smaller pieces of paper can be cut to put on the edges of the box seams. Also cut smaller pieces in different colors to make eyebrows, control panels, etc. Glue all the detail pieces onto the robot. Remind students that this is a 3D object, so they should add details to all sides!

Step four:
Use metallic markers to add dials, buttons, rivets, etc.

Step five: Twist metallic pipe cleaners around pencils to get spring legs and arms, or even antennae.

Step six: Glue on the pipe cleaners (with hot glue) and glue on the wiggle eyes (with either Elmer's or hot glue).

Here are some student robots:

Design a Postage Stamp Ages 7 & 8

This was another summer camp lesson, so the theme was kept very open to interpretation and imagination. The students were asked to design stamps of fantasy places using markers and colored pencils. I pre-cut the paper to squares and made the stamp edge with decorative edging scissors. First, the students made sketches of their ideas, then they transferred these ideas onto the final papers and added color. Everything from the name of the place to the monetary-value of the stamp had to relate to the idea they came up with. For example, the stamp I made to show them was for a place called "Bunnytopia" and the currency was "carrots."

I could easily see using this idea for a social studies integration for students learning about the U.S. states or even other countries. The stamps would have to have imagery that represented that state. When I was in fifth grade we learned about states and I was assigned Wisconsin. I know more about Wisconsin than any other state, including the one I live in! So my state stamp would have had a badger, a violet, a Holstein dairy cow, or something else representing the "Grand Ole Badger State."

This lesson could be extended to include "Design a Postcard," "Design Currency," or "Design a Travel Brochure."

Here are some fantasy place stamps designed by my students:





Update : Color Block Quilts Grade 4

So, I was substituting today and got to see that the project that I started with the fourth graders was completed and put on display. It looks pretty awesome in person. The regular art teacher had them just make paper snowflakes instead of the felt ones that I envisioned, but it still looks like I imagined it would. I was so excited to see it up on display in the hallway, so I snapped a picture with my cell phone and here it is:

Here is a shortcut link to the original post of the lesson:
Learn to Teach.Teach to Learn.: Color Block Quilts Grade 4: "This lesson is one that I developed by borrowing ideas from lots of different sources. It is a great lesson because it teaches students abou..."

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Teacup Animals Ages 4 - 6

So this is another project that was made with the Crayola air-dry clay, which I don't like to use, especially in warmer months. If I did this again and had a kiln, I would definitely use firing clay instead.

The form starts out as a simple pinch pot. The students rolled their clay into a ball first (we sang "roll, roll, roll. your clay" to the tune of "row, row, row your boat"); then they pinched into the middle with their thumbs; next the cup is shaped; finally details are added on using slipping and scoring. Elephants, bunnies, kitties, and puppies were popular animal choices. The tail for most animals became the handle of the teacup. For the elephant it was the trunk.

The dried clay was painted with tempera paints. I would probably still paint the fired clay, only I would use watercolors like a stain instead.

Here is the teacup menagerie:

Cave Art Mini-Lesson Age 7

If you happen to have sandpaper available that works best, but you can substitute sandpaper with brown paper grocery bags cut to size if you need to. You can also alter this lesson to work much larger and make a mural with tempera paints and chalks. But the artwork seen here was made with low-grit sandpaper cut into strips and cray-pas oil pastels.

I showed the students lots of images of Lascaux cave paintings so they had a feel for what colors were like natural pigments and what images were typical -- animals and hunting. This would be a good lesson to leave for a substitute teacher if using cray-pas, but not if you want to make a mural.

And finally, a little
Mammoth Love!

African Masks - 2 Versions

The first time I taught a lesson on African masks was at summer camp when I had two different age groups to work with. I taught the lesson in much the same way, introducing the art and culture through books and visuals, as well as an example of the project that would be made. The concepts were very similar -- students were to use additive techniques, paint with attention to pattern, line and symmetry. Really only the materials varied. The younger students (aged four to six) used paper plates that they painted with tempera paints and embellished with yarn or other materials that were handy. The older students (aged seven and eight) used more complex materials, like cardboard, plaster strips, and acrylic paints. I really like teaching sculptural mask lessons like this one because students gain knowledge of other cultures while creating really unique works of art.

Here are examples of the younger students' projects:

Here are examples of the older students' projects:

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Tropical Frogs Ages 7 & 8

This is another project from summer camp. I used Crayola air-dry clay, which I don't recommend for longevity because the clay took a long time to dry in the humidity of summer and when it finally did it was still softer and more fragile than I would have liked. If you have a kiln, by all means use firing clay instead.

The eventually dried frogs were then painted with acrylic and glazed with acrylic gloss medium to get a nice seal and sheen. The kids had lots of reference images of tropical rain forest frogs to look at when sculpting their own frogs. Overall the results were adorable!

Here are some fabulous frogs:

This lesson would integrate well with a science rain forest unit. You could also introduce patterns if you wanted to. And if clay isn't in your budget, you could easily make these from paper-mache.

Textured Paint Bird Mobiles Ages 4 - 6

A very cute lesson to do in spring especially is to make bird themed mobiles using natural tree branches (hopefully ones found on the ground and not chopped from the trees). I did this lesson with a group of students aged four to six and it was so much fun.

To begin I distribute six pieces of heavy weight paper that is already cut to 4 x 6 size. Then I distribute small cups of tempera paints in six colors. The papers are painted with one color on one side (say red) and are given texture by either running a fork through the wet paint, painting with sponges, painting with cotton swabs or painting with rags. On the opposite side of the paper once the first color is dry, the opposite color gets painted/textured (for this example that would be green). This is repeated for all six colors on the color wheel so that you end up with six papers painted red/green, orange/blue, and yellow/purple, each side using a different texture techniques as well. Painting the papers usually takes about forty minutes.

On the second day/class, the students use bird shape tracers to trace and cut birds from their hand-painted papers. Then they glue on feathers and wiggle eyes. Holes are punched into the top of each bird so that fishing line can be strung. Then the teacher (me), attaches the birds to the branches to make the mobiles.

Here are some close-ups of the flock that was created:

Students learn about color theory (a good follow up to a lesson on primary and secondary colors), texture and kinetics.

Emotion Paintings Ages 7 & 8

So I've decided to go through some of my images from past lessons that were never posted to the blog.

First up is a lesson I taught on abstract expressionism using emotive colors and mark-making. These paintings were done in acrylic on pieces of canvas paper that I happened to have available. The students were asked to visualize emotions and describe them using artistic elements like color, line, and mark-making.

Many students interpreted excited or happy to have erratic marks (like Pollock). Others related more to colors by mixing muddied colors to express sadness or just using colors that they felt represented happiness.

Here are some examples that the students created:

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Beautiful Gift!

Since this blog contains the sub-heading "What I teach. What I make. And what makes me", I thought it was high time I offered up some of the latter portion of this triad. So, here is a photo of a beautiful hand-crafted gift that I received from a very special friend of mine. My friends are, after all, part of what makes me.