• supporting creativity in the classroom and beyond •

• supporting creativity in the classroom and beyond •

Monday, November 30, 2009


Who doesn't love Elmer?

After a lesson on looking carefully at patterns which included drawing random patterns all over a large sheet of drawing paper, My Kindergarten students did an Elmer drawing. First I read the story and then I went through the book again with a picture walk. We talked about the patterns in Elmer's friends, and also discussed the interesting scenery in the story. This was followed by a kind of "direct drawing" activity, in which I had students follow along with my directions:

- Draw a large oval for the body.
- Add a circle for the head.
- Put on a trunk. See how it looks like a J?
- We'll need some legs. How many? What shape? How big?
- Let's add an ear and an eye and a mouth.

This drawing was done with pencil. After the drawing was complete, students were asked to trace over their lines with a dark colored marker or crayon, and then to fill Elmer's friend with a colorful pattern. Some students had time to add trees or other fanciful backgrounds.

For display, I lined them up above the white board.

The students loved this activity, and even though it was a direct draw, every drawing had its own personality. Students had to think about and draw shapes, and also to work with patterns, all of which is in both their Art and Math standards. Two birds with one stone!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

harold and the purple crayon, revisited

Last year, I had my Kindergarten students draw "purple pictures" after reading aloud Harold and the Purple Crayon. It was fun, but this year I decided to focus more on imagination and have the students do purple collages. I started by asking students if anyone knew what it meant to use your imagination. A few students had ideas like having an imaginary friend, or pretending. I then asked a second question: If I asked you to use your imagination, what part of your body would you use? Most students pointed to their heads, which told me that they knew what it meant to use their imaginations although most were unable to articulate what it meant. So far so good. After this little introduction, I read the story aloud, letting the students make comments about Harold's use of his imagination on his little purple excursion.

After the story, I explained to students that they were going to use their imaginations to create purple collages. I demonstrated cutting long strips from a 6x9 piece of purple construction paper, which I placed onto a piece of drawing paper taped to the white board. (The students were intrigued by the fact that my pieces of paper were sticking to this paper, so I explained that I had made it sticky with some spray glue.) I showed students that there were cardboard squares, rectangles, triangles, and circles out on the tables, and modeled tracing a circle on the corner of the purple paper. I put all the cut pieces on the sticky paper and proceeded to move them around, letting students comment on what they thought my pictures looked like.

Students were able to choose either regular purple or magenta for their collages, and white or black paper for the background. I asked them to cut some long skinny purple lines first, then to trace and cut some purple shapes. I encouraged them to place all their pieces on the background and move them around to see what they could make before doing any gluing. As students finished their collages, I had them get white drawing paper and a purple crayon and asked them to draw the pictures they had just made.

For discussion and sharing, I held up the collages one at a time and had each student tell, in a complete sentence, what he or she had made. This gave me the opportunity to introduce the word "design" for those who had not attempted to create a picture of an object. Some students had very simple responses, like "I made a house," or "I made a bird," while others included many details in their sentences: "I made a person in a sleeping bag, camping." Whether their collages showed objects they could name or designs with no subject matter, I congratulated them for using their imaginations... just like Harold.