• supporting creativity in the classroom and beyond •

• supporting creativity in the classroom and beyond •

Friday, January 31, 2014

what can you do with a heart?

What can you do with any shape, really? One would think it's pretty easy to just decorate a shape... any shape... with lines, patterns, color.... but what I've found lately when substituting is that kids seem to be getting less and less creative at a frighteningly increasing pace. Giving them free reign with a blank piece of paper seems like such a good idea on paper, but I've found that many need a little push of some sort... some examples, some modeling, sometimes even a whole lesson, or at least a mini-lesson, on drawing patterns or borders.

One day in a second grade class, with a little free time to kill, I just thought I'd have students draw a large heart and make it beautiful. The word "decorate" just didn't seem right to me, but it was precisely that word that finally made the difference. I did do a little modeling to begin with, just to give them some ideas, and invited them to use as many colors as they wanted, as many designs as they wanted, and to fill the paper completely.

One of the only requirements was that they had to draw the heart freehand, so we would have a variety of heart shapes, not a set of cookie cutter hearts all the same. I wandered around as they were working, suggesting that they think of patterns they could use, and giving a hint now and then about using bolder colors or perhaps outlining the heart for emphasis.

It was interesting watching them work. While most of the students really got into it and showed some thought in their designs, a few seemed at a complete loss as to what they could do with their heart. When I teach art lessons to kids, I always emphasize how artists usually create a plan, think about what they want to do and choose colors carefully. There are so many times that I see students just slap something together, or don't really look at the space they have to work with. It's very intriguing.

In the end, the results of this activity were interesting. We only worked with crayon on this particular day, but if I had planned it out beforehand I might have had some watercolors available, or some scraps of paper, especially decorative paper, for them to use to enhance their hearts even more. I might have done more modeling (as much as I hate to!) or a short lesson on patterning, or bordering, or ways to combine different types of lines. I guess I just really believed they would do all that all by themselves. They did produce some fun designs, and they had a good time, and maybe that's the best thing.

The most interesting thing of all to me in this whole lesson is that this is the same class that created some beautiful Zentangles just a few weeks before. I fully expected that would carry over to this activity, and it did not, but maybe that's ok too!