Friday, June 24, 2011

Wow! America Landscape Painting

The timing of this lesson was incredible!

Reviewing some of the MA frameworks, I realized I wanted to do one more lesson this year reviewing the concept of a horizon line and introduce new words like background, foreground, and middle ground. But, I needed some inspiration: I have always LOVED the graphic and dynamic paintings I saw on Deep Space Sparkle about the Grand Canyon and the Space Shuttle. Those two lessons have the same book in common, Wow! America by Robert Neubecker, so I went to the local library, took out the book, and fell in love with the illustrations. I couldn't wait to share with with my students.

The day of the lesson, we quickly went over the vocabulary. Most kids had a general idea of background, and foreground and middle ground make sense when you put it together. We sat on the rug and I shared the book, stopping after some pages to see if they could spot foreground, middle ground and background. After I finished reading, one girl could not wait to tell me that in Social Studies they were recently assigned a "state project"! I could not believe how nicely this fit into our art room plans!

The kids went back to their seats and we more formally reviewed the vocabulary, writing the definitions on our sketch paper. The three other rectangles of their quarter folded paper were to be quick sketches of possible landscape paintings about a state, using foreground, middle ground and background. It could be any state, but knowing that they are experts about one already, it may make sense to think about their state. Some students really liked the illustrations of the book and decided to recreate one of the illustrations, more like the Deep Space Sparkle lessons.

After sketching, we drew immediately with crayon. This particular class has had many opportunities to mix their own paint, so we did so one last time for the year. When the paintings were dry, we re-traced the black crayon lines to clean them up a bit.

This lesson felt rushed as it was at the end of the year and there were many gaps between classes. It is however one that I would do again, especially now knowing that there is a state project in Social Studies. It is also one that I could tweak to fit any age group.

Monday, June 20, 2011

two weeks "free"

Its official, I am on summer vacation... for about two weeks.
This first week I will be getting ready for my school's first ever summer program. Back in April or so, I was asked, with my four summer's worth of experience as an art specialist, if I would be the Program Director. I said yes, flattered by the vote of confidence, but the more I thought about it, I realized just how much I am taking on.
So far, it has been a bit difficult to focus on organizing the program while wrapping up the school year, putting on an art show and teaching quality lessons. Ultimately, I am responsible for all of the children and employees. I think it is a great challenge, one that I am ready for, but definitely a "grown up" job (more so than teaching?) and I don't really know when I turned into a "grown up." 

I do know that come Saturday, I will really be on vacation. A few summers ago I drove down to Florida to visit my mom. Since then, I have not been on a vacation! I am very much looking forward to going to Ocean City, NJ with my boyfriend and his family. I think his mom is nervous that she has built this trip up too much, but I keep reassuring her that sitting on the beach with a good book, for a week, is just my speed!


The Last Days of School
The last few years I have done the same thing on the last day of art class. I know other teachers have their students help clean and pack away things, but I have so much "stuff" and, I've decided, a little OCD about my school "stuff," that I'd rather organize things myself and let the kids have a memorable last class.
So, we have a choice day.

Drawing Table
At the drawing table, I set out copy paper, "how to draw" books, idea cards, and a word game. Most of the younger students LOVE the how to draw books, and I really encourage them to follow the steps and not trace. Its wonderful when a second graders comes up to share how proud she is that she drew a pokemon all by herself. And for me, it reinforces the stress I put on learning the basic elements like line and shape.

Bad Hair Day/ Contour Name Design

With my elementary students, another center was the "Bad Hair Day" lesson I have seen on various blogs and websites. I left some simple directions and an example. I think it is a lesson I might do if I need a one day lesson. It was not too successful as a center.
For the middle school students, I changed this center to a contour name design. Again I left directions and an example. I had fun making my example, and I think the middle schoolers did enjoy the center. Basically, you write your name using block or bubble letters in the center of the page, then using alternating colors, outline your name and continue to do so, leaving some space between the outlines, until the entire page is full.

Crayon Transfer
This center took some time, and it was interesting to see who really wanted to put some effort in. Fifth grade boys LOVED this and the second graders thought it was magic!
  1. Fold a paper in half like a book.
  2. Color heavy and dark, randomly, with crayons on one half.
  3. Fold the paper back in half with the crayon on the inside cover of the "book" (this way, if words are written, they will transfer correctly)
  4. Using a pencil, draw a line design, a name design or a picture, making sure to use heavy pressure.
  5. Open the book and the crayon should have transferred to the blank page inside. 
Everyone seemed to love this center. In fact, I had to split most classes into groups so that everyone who wanted to play had a chance. Thankfully, for the younger kids, I had put some rules on the table: youngest to oldest to take turns, whomever guesses correctly is the new artist, make sure to have categories, or use the cards I wrote out. They loved being able to use my whiteboard. I have a table pretty close to the front, so that those not drawing knew they had to sit. It kept it nice and controlled.

Spin Art

Out of my 200+ students, only a few did not want to do this activity. A few years ago I picked up three battery operated pottery wheels, for free! So about once a year I take them out, and we use markers to make designs. I took out my class lists and called up two kids at a time. Students were told that if they asked for their turn, they would have to go last. And lo and behold, it turned out awesome! Everyone had a turn, everyone was entertained!

Meanwhile, I took everything off the walls, organized a few boxes in the closet and made piles to be gone through at a later time. After about an hour after school, my room was disassembled, with tables pushed together in the center and chairs off the floor. 

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Picasso Part 2

Up early on a Sunday morning... thanks to my teacher schedule. however, the likelihood of seeing at student at the local super market is less than usual at this hour in the morning. I will be headed out soon! but not before a post. oh how I missed blogging the last few weeks!

Rose and Blue Period 4th Grade Portraits

Another lesson I totally stole from Phyl! check it out
I introduced Picasso to the 4th grade by reading Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists- Picasso. We talked about Picasso's different "styles" and how he "invented" Cubism. We focused mainly on the Rose and Blue period though. It fit in really well because we had been doing a lot of portraits in 4th grade. So much so that I think I need to switch it up next year. This one focused more on color and expression than others though. The kids actually had fun having to pick from a bowl which period they would be painting and I think they had even more fun once we started painting because they got to switch up their seats!

2nd Grade was also introduced to Picasso this year. This lesson was essentially my own. I did find some guidance at the Incredible Art Department, but had to do some tweaking to get into the 2nd grade mind set. I also had 2 classes and experimented with the process just between the two. Its one that I will revisit and continue to work on. It wasn't a total flop, but I would like a higher success rate. anyway...

2nd Grade 3 Musicians 
I blew up a copy of Picasso's 3 Musicians and we sat on my rug to make some observations.

What is this a picture of? How many people do you see? What instruments can you see? What simple shapes do you see? What colors? What patterns?
We talked a little bit about Cubism and I tried to stress how Picasso made pictures out of shapes.
We went back to our seats and drew... this is where I need to start revising.
I asked students to draw 3 instruments using simple shapes. They got that part... but they somehow missed when I asked for them to be big. We had teeny tiny guitars and drum sets!

this one, not so much. this student is an outstanding 2nd grade artist
After drawing the instruments, we added the "shape people." This was another area of struggle. Some kids totally grasped the idea of block heads and triangle legs, others couldn't get over it. Understandable. Then, some kids struggled with how the instrument they just drew connected to the person they needed to add. I know my instruction for this could be better. It was also an opportunity for the students to really use their imagination and creativity and I didn't want to push them in any one direction (wow do I sound like the crazy art teacher! but its true!)

I go back and forth about starting with black crayon. I had one class draw with pencil, trace with crayon then use watercolor. The other drew with pencil, painted, then used Sharpie. (I don't like the younger ones using Sharpie and I told them how special of an occasion it was!)

Overall, I am happy with this lesson. It needs some revision and I know that not every lesson I do is going to be a home run, or even a double!
These are 2 of my favorites from this activity:

before paint
after paint

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Picasso Paper Portraits

my coffee cup on the supply table like it is every morning.
Anyone guess whose portrait is on the other side?

It appears that last I left the blog-o-sphere, a few of my classes were beginning to learn about Picasso. Since many of my students have never had "a real art teacher" before, I try to introduce them to famous artists from time to time. I have really enjoyed using Laurence Anholt books as an introduction, so for this activity, we read Picasso and The Girl with The Ponytail.

We then talked about how cubism uses simple shapes and how Picasso would look at the front and the side of a face at the same time, and put it in his painting. We followed Phyl's steps at There's a Dragon in my Art Room. Thanks Phyl!

I managed to forgot to take pictures of the final products. We have had many events at school lately, and a few had to be rescheduled. At times I wasn't sure who was going to show up at my door expecting an art lesson. And as we all know, it takes a lot of preparation. So needless to say, juggling the schedule and preparing took priority over pictures at times. The 3rd graders loved this activity though! And its amazing how one class will take it to the next level, and the other wants to fly though it...

Up next, grades 4 and 2 and their adventures learning about Picasso

Friday, June 3, 2011

We're Not in Kansas Anymore...

despite tornado warnings for the area, yes tornado, our first ever Art Show was a huge hit!

I live in an area where a tornado actually touching down is a rare occasion. the one that touched down a few hours west of here made national news the night of our show. I of course had no idea what was going on, as I spent over 10 hours in the same auditorium trying to put everything up before the 6pm show time. needless to say, we were skeptical about attendance, especially after seeing the devastation in Joplin. but by the end of the night, all the juice, cookies, and coffee were gone and I am continuing to hear positive feedback from students, parents, families and friends.


Those are shots of just the classes I teach. There are six more that I currently do not, but they were also included in the show. In the future, I would like to teach K and 1st, but starting at 2nd this year was a good transition from 4-8 last year, and 6-8 the year before. We'll see what the budget has in store for next year!

I also learned a TON from putting up the show, and the lessons, classroom set up and management this year. I still have a few weeks left, thanks snow days! But soon I will post some of the lessons we have been working on, now that I have some "down" time.

oh yea, and if the work seems squished... its because it was.
I did not find out until 10am that day that I would NOT have additional space to hang art, unless I wanted to use the walls... talk about last minute. out of my control. But, there is always next year!