Saturday, November 21, 2015

Clay Scarab Beetles

My kindergartner are in the middle of creating these adorable Ancient Egyptian Scarab Beetles. So far they are sculpted by not painted. Here's the process we used.

I chose to use air dry clay for this project because I wanted the kids to be able to press the legs and eyes into the clay. I have a bunch of old Model Magic at my other school, so I am using that there but it's a little more limiting. It is already in colors, so there goes the painting step and the white doesn't take paint as well as clay either. Although, air dry doesn't take watercolor as nicely as bisque ware does either. I used my earthenware wire cutter to cut the clay into small pieces for each kid. 

Here are the supplies we used. I got these great cardboard trays from the cafeteria ladies. They have "Yogurt Parfaits" once a month and the yogurt containers come on these trays, which they save for me. I made a tray of eyes and a tray of legs for each table. I also got these odd cardboard things donated (pictured below) and cut them in half so each kid got one half. 

Their first step was to roll the clay into a ball. We discussed the shape of a beetle's body and that they are more oval than circle and I showed them how to use a little bit of water to smooth out the clay. They then used the cardboard to press the lines of the beetle into the clay. Finally, they pressed the eyes in and six legs. 

Here's what they look like right now, as they are drying. 

I picked up some bottles of Crayola mediums-some pearl for this project and the other texture for our third grade clay project (post to come). Next art class, we will first paint the watercolor on the beetles and then start a new project. While painting my samples, I discovered how slowly the paint dries on air dry clay compared to bisque fired clay. We will definitely need time for them to dry before adding the pearl medium. 

Friday, November 13, 2015

Anansi the Spider; An Ashanti Folktale

My kindergartners just finished painting these cute Anansi spiders. Anansi is the an Ashanti folkstory from Ghana, Africa. I began this lesson by reading the book to the kids. Anansi has six sons, who each have a special talent. There is See Trouble, Road Builder, River Drinker, Game Skinner, Stone Thrower, and Cushion. Each son has a different shape on his body to show his talent. When Anansi gets into trouble the sons use their talents to save his life. 

After reading the story, students were given pencils and white paper. I used guided drawing on the SmartBoard to show them how to draw a triangle (they insisted it's upside down) with an oval on top for the head. I asked them to show me on their fingers how many legs a spider has. They all showed me five on one hand and three on the other so I asked them to add one to the three and subtract the thumb on the hand with five. I showed them with my hands that I now had four fingers up on both hands and that's how a spider's legs are arranged on their body. I showed them how Anansi's legs overlap and asked them to draw four legs on each side. 
While they were finishing up their drawings I passed out pallets of black paint, but no brushes yet. I then demonstrated how to use the edge of a flat brush to make a smooth line around the shape before filling in the insides. They had the option of using the same flat brush for the legs or using a detail brush. I showed them tricks for both brushes. Finally, I gave them brushes and asked them to paint in their drawings. 

The next class period we looked at a picture of Anansi on the SmartBoard and talked about the web behind him. It is created with pattern instead of traditional spiderwebs. I showed them how to make both a patterned web like the book or a traditional web and let them decide how to fill in the background with marker. Finally, I gave them pallets with red, orange, yellow, blue, and purple and used my document camera to walk them through painting the face and other details on their spider. We started with orange and painted a V for the lower lip and a triangle like the body for the top lip. Then it was a T for the nose and bottom of the headband with a strip a little above it. Next, we skipped to blue and painted the triangles above the eyes and the nostrils. Yellow was next for the eyes and then a red stripe on the headband. Last, we talked about and looked at the images of the six sons and noticed the different shapes on the bodies. They used purple to add any shape on their spider's body. 

Desert Landscapes

True confessions here, this project did not go completely as planned. However, it's the process not the product-right?! 

If that's the standard, this project was a complete success. And some of them did turn out super cute. We started by learning a bit about the Sahara Desert and focusing on foreground, middle ground, and background. The kids then created a template of sand dunes out of construction paper and used chalk to create the dunes. This turned out to be much more challenging for them than I expected. Some of them kept cutting the dune apart instead of ending up with one template 6" X 12" they ended up with a bunch of triangles. I asked them to start at the top of the page with their medium brown and mix it with a light brown to get a light color for the foreground. The concept of starting a project upside down was just too much for many of them and I walked around flipping the pages around as they got started. The middle ground was created with just the medium brown, and they added a darker brown for the last row of sand dunes. I showed them how to blend one color into the color next to it instead of rubbing the whole sky together to get mush and most of the skys turned out pretty vibrant. 

Now we moved on to the printmaking portion of our story...Yikes.
In my mind, I was thinking camels are pretty hard to draw and some kids won't be able to do it, but some will want them. I gave them the choice between camels, cacti, and pyramids. They could do the same or different items in their deserts. We used foam to create our prints and they were asked to print the largest item in the foreground, the medium item in the middle ground, and the smallest item in the background. I made stations for them to go to for printing and it worked pretty smoothly. Finally they did an assessment. The one I previously blogged about didn't work well with my third graders so I didn't try it with these kids. Instead, I created a color sheet of a desert and asked them to color the foreground brown, the middle ground green, and the background blue. Most of them got 3/3 on the assessment, which validated the project for me a bit. At least they learned! They also got to use chalk (which I don't pull out very often) and printmaking. 

Outside My Classroom

I forgot that one of my classes was scheduled for a field trip today. So I had an unexpected 45 minutes to do anything I needed to get done. I decided to get some stuff done in the hallway that I keep putting of for more pressing things. 

First, I painted my window of my door. We are asked to cover the window in case of a lockdown situation. I choose to paint it instead, it provides a bit of a stained glass appearance and I'm able to do it quickly and change it annually to go with the continent we are studying. I added "Karibu Wasanii," which is Swahili for "Welcome Artists."

I had this idea last spring and put a call out to families to bring in old unneeded frames without the glass. I didn't want to ask the custodians to make holes for the frames as it's a concrete wall and they'd have a TON of work to get them in. I got some of the 3M Command picture hanging velcro for the larger/heavier frames and used poster putty for the lighter ones. I plan on putting artwork of students and professionals in the frames. 

This has actually been up for a while, but this is my wall for awards that students have earned on Artsonia. It's above the area where they line up before and after class so they can see which of their friends have earned the awards while waiting for their classroom teacher to arrive. It has brought a lot of attention to my Artsonia program. I took a closer picture, but the kids' first and last names are on the awards so I decided it shouldn't get posted here. 

Friday, October 23, 2015

Egyptian Sneak Peek!

I've been working on samples for my Egyptian lessons and am very excited to get started! Here is a sneak peek, we are currently flying to Egypt, learning about the country and designing the concepts for the projects. 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Warm & Cool Zebras

I'm a little in love with how this project turned out. There are a few that look a bit...well, Picasso-y, but many are completely adorable! It also has a lot of content! Here's what we did...

First, I told them that I was going to teach them about a very important tool that artists use called a color wheel. I put an image of a color wheel on the SmartBoard and explained that artists use the color wheel to choose which colors will work best in their work of art. I drew a line between warm and cool colors and then explained the two color groups. We then played a game. I would say a color and if they thought is was a warm color they'd fan their faces. If they thought it was a cool color they'd wrap their arms around themselves like they were shivering. They had a lot of fun with the game, and I was able to see how they were understanding. Of course, many watched their friends but it still helped them to get which colors were in each group so I'm fine with that. 

After our warm/cool game I demonstrated how to glue strips neatly, using tiny dots of glue. I cut paper into half inch strips and put them into trays of warm and cool. I asked them to choose from one tray of colors for all of the stripes. 

After these were dry I drew on the back to ensure students would get all of the zebra body parts out of the page. I drew a straight line about the middle of the page vertically. A little above the halfway mark on the right I created a rectangle and added stripes below it for the neck and four legs. When the students arrived for the next class I had them draw a large oval in the biggest portion of paper and a medium oval in the other square. I showed them how to cut all those pieces out as well as create ears from the corners and place it into a zebra. When their pieces were cut out they were instructed to choose either white or black for the back and a color the opposite color group from their stripes. They glued the color to the black or white and then glued down the zebra. I was sure to tell them to glue the body and head only in the middle so they'd be able to lift the edges for the mane and tail next class. 

For the final class, I created a tray of black strips of paper and white squares and another tray with pieces of black yarn for each table. I showed the kids how to create a fringe on the black strip and how to measure how long they'd need to be along the neck of the zebra. I encouraged them to add some between the ears too. The white square was for them to draw and cut a circle to create an eye. They were allowed Sharpies to add the pupil, a nostril, and hooves if they wanted them. Finally, they made a large puddle of glue under the back of the body, folded a few pieces of yarn in half and glued the tail down. 

When the projects were complete, students were asked to fill in the assessment pictured below. Most of these kiddos can't read yet, so I put images of fire and ice to help them know what colors I was looking for on each side. For the full assessment, click here. 

Friday, October 16, 2015

Moroccan Khamsas

Second graders are finishing up their Moroccan Khamsas. Students learned about Morocco and we talked about their largest religion, Islam. The Khamsa, or Hand of Fatima is a symbol of protection in their religion. Students then learned how to use a ruler to create an even border by matching it with the edge of the paper and drawing on the other side of the ruler. They traced their thumb, index, middle, and ring fingers of one hand and then worked with a partner to trace their thumb of their other hand to create a full Khamsa shape. 

Next, students learned about the Element of Art: Color by focusing on warm and cool colors. We played a game to measure understanding. I called out a color and if they thought it was a cool color they would wrap their arms around themselves like they were shivering. If they thought it was a warm color they would fan themselves. It worked really well! They chose warm or cool colors for the hand and border and the opposite color group for around the hand. 

When they were done painting they used any extra time to practice some patterns in their sketchbooks. The next class period they used those patterns to finish up the project. They were asked to draw an eye on the hand and fill the hand, the space around the hand, and the border with patterns. 

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Moroccan Tiles

My fourth graders started our African studies in Morocco. They learned about radial symmetry that is found in Moroccan tiles and then created their own radial design using a design sheet. 

Once they were happy with their designs, they were asked to go over their lines again, as dark as they could. 

Their dark designs were then taped to their tile with the pencil side facing the tile. They scribbled on the back of the paper as hard as they could to transfer the image onto the tile. Next, they used Sharpies to color their design.

To finish the tiles, they glued a piece of felt to the bottom of the tile and I sprayed them with spray Mod Podge. I had to be very careful to spray a tiny layer first and let it dry before spraying 2-3 more thin layers. If the layer got too thick, the Sharpie would bleed. 

Moroccan Mosaics

My third graders just completed these Moroccan Mosaics. We looked at an example on the SmartBoard and I drew lines of symmetry to show how the pattern rotates. Next, each student got a precut and primed piece of cardboard-I just cut up cereal boxes and was able to get four from each box (two from each large panel). I showed them how to lightly draw lines of symmetry and glue one precut foamie in the first quadrant. I asked them to rotate the cardboard and put the next foamie in the exact same spot. After repeating that with the final quadrants they could move on to the next color, leaving a tiny bit of the white showing to represent the grout lines. I asked the kids to stick to squares or triangles and showed them how to create a triangle by cutting the square from corner to corner. Many of the results are stunning!

I actually did a similar project many years ago, as a new teacher. Instead of using Moroccan Mosaics as inspiration they just did a flower and we used unprimed cardboard. They used small bottles of puffy paint between the foamies to represent the grout. I liked the results of that, but it took about three times as much puffy paint as I thought it would. It became a pain to run to the store almost nightly for more white puffy paint!