• supporting creativity in the classroom and beyond •

• supporting creativity in the classroom and beyond •

Monday, October 20, 2008

not quite mondrians

I wanted my second grade students to play around with lines. Even though I had some ideas, I explored some art lesson websites and came across an activity that looked colorful and easy to do. I decided to try it after altering it a bit. The originals had all the spaces filled with vibrant colors, which was very dramatic, but I am working with a schedule in which I need to make sure that all students can finish in an hour, and I didn't think they could get the whole paper colored in during such a short time and I wanted them to be able to work carefully and mindfully. So I simplified. Simplifying is always good in the art world. Of course, that's my opinion, since I am a kind of minimalist.

For this activity, all students needed to do was use a ruler to divide the paper into sections (easier said than done), then fill each section with lines, using bold colors (also easier said than done), and finally cut black construction paper lines to glue over the pencil lines.

Before starting, I had the students tell me what they knew about lines, and I drew different kinds of lines on the white board to show different ways to fill the spaces. I thought these were going to be a real piece of cake, but some students had a bit of trouble only making five pencil lines to start with. If they hadn't gone too overboard, we just left it. If they had a dozen lines, they got a new piece of paper and some clearer directions. In the long run, it wouldn't have made any difference, but I knew that the line cutting at the end was going to take a bit of time and the thought of somebody needing to cut about sixteen lines when everyone else only needed five was a concern. So, they got a new paper and were asked to make less lines. This was only an issue because they only have one hour with me. If I were in a self-contained classroom, I would just let it be and give them extra time to finish up. Without the luxury of time, there are some adjustments that need to be made.

As they started filling the spaces with colorful lines, I encouraged them to use dark lines, bright colors, and to work on and finish one space before going on to another. It was interesting to see so many students using the crayons with such a light touch. Occasionally, I held up a student's work to show an example of bright, bold colors with lines clearly drawn. When there were twenty minutes left in their hour, I had them finish up wherever they were and cut and glue their lines.

Some students had a very hard time getting out of the "straight line" box, but a few managed some diagonals, and these were especially interesting. If I do these again, I will make sure that students know they will only have time to fill in a few spaces and encourage them to fill spaces that are not adjacent. During discussion, students found line treatments that they liked in other students' work, and were encouraged to use appropriate art vocabulary to identify and discuss the works of others. Overall, these were quick and very successful!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

bubble people

I have a pet peeve: stick people. So I thought... well... might as well start at the beginning. I came across a people drawing lesson in "Talking, Drawing,Writing" by Martha Horn and Mary Ellen Giacobbe, a book about art and writing that starts with using ovals for every body part. My first idea was to do this lesson with all the students and then have the Kindergartners draw clothes on them, the first graders fill the ovals with patterns, and the second graders do elaborate warm/cool compositions by filling the people ovals with warm or cool parallel lines and then doing a background in the opposite color. Heh. I was a little overambitious on the second grade idea. We were lucky to get the person filled with lines, although a few students did manage to go on to a second bubble person, as they came to be known.

This lesson, for all three grade levels, started with a "loosening up" exercise with a large sheet of white paper on which they practiced drawing dots, circles, ovals of different sizes and shapes, and assorted lines. Then Kindergartners had a read aloud - "From Head to Toe" by Eric Carle (which included much wiggling, clapping, stomping, and kicking) - and everyone learned how to use ovals of different sizes, shapes, and lengths for all the main body parts. Kindergartners were asked to color their bubble people any way they wanted, and as they finished, to draw more on their practice paper. First graders filled theirs with dots and lines, using two primary colors, and those who had time were able to mount them on the third primary color. One creative first grader decided to mount his standing on one hand, and was careful to remind me that it goes "this way." :-) Second graders drew a contour line around their bubble person to define the shape. They then filled the complete shape with warm or cool colored parallel lines. If they finished one, they were asked to draw another on the same paper and to fill it with lines using the same colors.

Everyone did a great job! During sharing we looked at how different they all were, and students were able to talk about what was hard to do, what they liked about their bubble people.

Now... if it will just stick, there will be less stick people in the world! :-)

Friday, October 3, 2008

stars and stripes collages

To launch my new school year and celebrate Constitution Day, i had all my students do red, white, and blue (and yellow!) collages. Kindergarten and first graders did torn paper, second graders got to use scissors. I read the book, "I Pledge Allegiance" by Bill Martin, Jr. to launch the lesson, pointing out the students the torn paper illustrations. I also showed them Jasper Johns' "Three Flags" and Alexander Calder's "Stars and Stripes" so they could see how two famous artists used the flag images and colors in their art work.

I demonstrated tearing the paper for the Kinders and first graders, and taught the second graders how to cut out a "dancing star" by starting with a circle with five dots around the circumference, then cutting rays from the edge of the paper to the dots, like doing a dot-to-dot picture. Some students had trouble *not* making a replica of an American flag, but they were stymied by my directions that they couldn't use a blue rectangle.

Over four hundred fifty students, and every single collage was successful! What a great start to my year!

I have two versions of this lesson available in my TeachersPayTeachers store:

Patriotic Colors Torn Paper Abstract Collage is for lower elementary grades.
Patriotic Colors Cut Paper Abstract Collage is for upper elementary grades.


into the classroom

Lucky me! I got a teaching job making art with little kids! I've been in the classroom for twenty years, first as a full time classroom teacher, then working part time with at-risk students, ELL students, GATE students, and Kindergarten students. And now I get to teach art to Kindergarten, first, and second grade students at three different schools, What a great way to spend three days a week!