• 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!

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