Sunday, April 17, 2011


I know reproducing "Sunflowers" by van Gogh is a pretty standard lesson. I have only done it twice in the last four years though, and I could not resist reading another Laurence Anholt book to introduce my second graders to the artist.

  • first we read "Camille and the Sunflowers" then looked at van Gogh's "Sunflowers." we talked about what we saw in general, then narrowed it down to the elements of art. for the first class, we specifically paid attention to the shapes and lines.  one class thought some of the flowers looked like fuzzy donuts!
  • we drew with black crayon on 12x18 manila paper. something that I think helped with the composition was asking the kids to draw all the flowers above the vase first, even having some go off the paper, then adding the stems. for some reason, I think because of a lesson we did back in the fall, my second graders love using overlapping. so when it came time to add the stems, they knew some would overlap before making their way into the vase.
  • the second class we began by revisiting the painting and this time looking for as many colors as we could. the kids realized that the flowers were not painted with only yellow!
  • with oil pastels, we began to add color. I went from table to table, demonstrating how to layer the oil pastels, and how to add all the little lines and different colors we saw, especially in the fuzzy donut :)

some kids really got into this lesson. so much so that they needed an extra class. about every six weeks I have a "choice" day for second grade. its an earned treat for good behavior. so what I have done the last few choice days is have the students who need more time on an assignment finish first and then pick a choice...

choices are things like "free" draw, using my how to draw books, sometimes a little "special project" with me (watercolor, extra scratch art paper etc.) art games like cloodle or "the word game" (I have a deck of cards with adjectives, nouns, verbs and places. the kids pick one of each to make a silly sentence and have to illustrate it) pattern blocks, crystal climbers and if I am feeling particularly nice, legos... again, it has to be earned and we have a chart to keep track of our good listening and behaving day. having never taught as young as second grade, its been a learning experience, but rewarding. I would like to take the idea of the earned choice and use it next year with other grades.

back to Sunflowers.... it totally worked out that we did this the week of van Gogh's birthday. our principal talks to us about "this day in history" during the morning announcements and I could almost hear the second grade cheer from down the hall when she mentioned it was van Gogh's birth anniversary over the loud speaker. a simple, yet awesome lesson. I can't wait to see what these little ones will be able to accomplish when they are older.

p.s. LOVE my new camera! can't stand loading and formatting pictures in blogger though. so frustrating!

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