• supporting creativity in the classroom and beyond •

• supporting creativity in the classroom and beyond •

Sunday, January 25, 2009

playing with patterns

The purpose of this Kindergarten lesson was facilitate students' observations of details in everyday and/or natural objects, and to have them draw patterns they observed in these objects. The original plan was to have them go for a walk outdoors, looking for patterns in and on the buildings, fences, and landscape at the school. To be safe, though, I brought in a couple of dozen pictures of animals, flowers, buildings, fences, etc. that showed a variety of patterns created with dots, lines, and shapes. As it turned out, time and weather directed the use of the pictures rather than the outdoor walk. In the end, I think that was a good thing.

To begin, I had students name things that artists do. Along with the standard "paint" and "draw" there were a few students who named things like "work hard" and "think about what they want to do" and "look." One student won my heart when she said that artists "look back at their work and do it again." But it was the word "look" that I was after. I explained that artists do a lot of looking, and that we'd be doing more looking than anything else with this lesson.

I wanted students to focus their observations on details and patterns rather than contours and objects, so we made viewfinders, but not the traditional "square hole in a piece of cardboard" kind. These viewfinders were simply 9x12 sheets of construction paper rolled into a tube and taped together.

Then we looked. I held up about half a dozen pictures one at a time, had them look at the patterns through their viewfinders, and asked what they could see. I asked about colors, lines, dots, and shapes. I asked how they could draw each one, and demonstrated a few possibilities on the board. Then I sent them off to work. Their job was to draw patterns on a white piece of paper, taking their inspiration from the pictures I had posted all along the white board tray. They could bring pictures to their tables for a closer look, but I encouraged them to sit on the floor and look through their viewfinders to help them look very closely and decide what colors they should use, and to think about how to draw the patterns.

When art-making time was over, we looked at each student's work, comparing the original photographs with the students' treatments of the patterns.

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