Friday, October 24, 2014

Underground drawings, 2nd grade

Second graders are finishing up some really creative drawings set under the ground, so we did a lot of visualizing to come up with our ideas. We looked at some classic book illustrations by Garth Williams of Cricket in Times Square fame and the always classic Beatrix Potter. All of these story animals live in a hidden away, subterranean world and the job of the illustrator is to create that world.

We talked about visual textures found in the layers of soil, clay, and rock. Some drawings show a realistic setting for a possible hibernating animal, readying for winter, and others have more of a sense of humor about them, as if the animals lived like people.

Thanks to North Art Alert for posting their lesson on underground worlds - my students were inspired by yours.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

End of Unit 1: what have I learned so far?

Keeping track of what we have learned so far, and assessing ourselves and peers - it can be a time consuming task. I've been working on ways to make these activities not only engaging but also quick and easy. Here are some of the methods we have used and are beginning to use now that we are starting up our second 9 weeks unit - already!

First graders are using a rubric created by Artful Artsy Amy to review their favorite piece from Unit 1, then they are commenting on each other's work using symbols we created in class. Kindergarteners are also learning the Art Walk, when we check out each other's art and offer compliments.

Our first grade portfolios show our word wall progress and our media usage so far.

Second and third graders are tracking artistic behaviors and accomplishments on a chart which we will return to each 9 weeks. We also use The Art Stack critique for ourselves and a peer. 

Here are some shots of my 4th and 5th grade portfolios and rubrics, including self-portraits that show off our new facial proportions knowledge.

Each of these activities only take between 3-10 minutes at the beginning or end of a project or unit - it is not something we do every week, but it does play a big part in student ownership of learning. Keeping portfolios has created a whole new level of respect of our artwork from the students.

On a fun note, here are some pics from Reading Extravaganza, when art students were treated to a reading of "The Day the Crayons Quit" and a letter writing activity.

What's to come in unit 2, you ask? Printmaking, lots of landscapes, K-2 clay projects... and Artsonia, our digital art gallery - Stay tuned!
If any of these teaching tools interest you, please check out my Teachers Pay Teachers store at .

Friday, October 17, 2014

If the Dinosaurs Came Back

Kindergarten artists use dinosaurs and prehistoric art during several projects throughout the year as their "Art from other times and places" focus. I saw this book by Bernard Most in our media center and I was intrigued by the cover illustration, and the story was funny and inventive. The kids enjoyed contrasting the modern setting with the natural dino habitat.
We worked on our drawing skills here, combining geometric shapes for the city setting and combining organic shapes for the dinos. We used the bubble cutting technique, cutting a large bubble around the dino first then making the bubble smaller and smaller without actually touching the line (which would pop the bubble). This way of cutting really helps young kids who tend to cut straight through lines and have the pieces fall apart. I think we only lost one wing the whole week!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Popsicle Paintings

Painting Popsicles is a fun way to explore color mixing, especially for first graders. We used color wheels to identify the primary and secondary colors, then we did real color mixing to create our color changing popsicles. We learned many craftsmanship skills using our tempera paints and brushes, and we even learned to make our colors lighter (tints) by mixing in white - we used these for our line pattern backgrounds. 
We also got a little practice using our dots of liquid glue for the assembly, and if we had time left at the end of class we even added little white highlights to make our popsicles look shiny and delicious. A really fun day in art...

At the end of the first 9 weeks, we completed a rubric about our favorite work so far, and many kids chose this one! Thanks to ArtfulArtsyAmy for her great Visual Art rubric - I've used it often with the little ones.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Color Stories, 4th grade

I absolutely adored teaching this lesson and watching the kids bring it to life. As an artist, color theory is one of the most exciting things to explore, and when I saw these "Color Thesaurus" charts on the "Ingrid's Notes" blog, I knew it was going to make a natural connection to writing for my 4th graders. Aren't these charts amazing?

In the past, we have painted Paul Klee inspired grids to practice our hue values and intensities, which was fun, but I don't think the students connected to the work past the fun of mixing. This was going to be the solution!

So, the how-to's. First we filled in our color wheels that are printed on our portfolios and discussed the color schemes. The kids chose the color they wanted to work with and we drew 12-section charts, similar to the inspirations. We practiced coming up with story themes by choosing 3 words from the charts and brainstorming a title, for example "the peacock stood under the sapphire sky." This was a fun exercise and gave the kids confidence that they could write a story of their own.
Starting with our hue of choice, we made several tints and shades with black and white. We added the complementary color to change the intensity, and finally we added analogous colors to our palettes to create intermediates. The kids worked really hard to create new tones with each new mixture.

The following week, we named the colors and began our creative writing stories. Connecting to Language Arts is my favorite academic integration - don't get me wrong, STEAM is cool and buzzy, but this really floats my boat :). I met with one of the LA teachers, and she said that they were currently working on creative writing - one of the kids even asked if they could turn these in for a writing grade - gonna see if we can make that happen. :)

The final step was to choose an object/character from the story and draw it on the painted grid to be the story's illustration. We kept it simple to let the colors be the star. The kids were really proud of their work, as am I. Love it!
I will be posting the Color Story sheet on my TpT store as a free download if you want to give it a try, art teachers - should have it ready to download by the weekend.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Year-at-a-glance planning!

Art teachers - are you "big picture" people? I need to see the forest before the trees, especially in my lesson planning. As much as I love planning lessons, making connections, and developing them in an organic way, I am also the first to admit that formal lesson plan writing is my least favorite part of the job (and those of you I've shared plans with know I use a bare bones approach when it comes to writing the plan).
I've been using an "at-a-glance" page for my long-term planning for years - a single page, simple organizer that sorts my objectives and lesson ideas by media, style, subject, connections and more. This format really helps me plan because it is so easy to see if there are big gaps in my media usage, or one area where I may be overloaded, for example.
Here's the order I use:
1. Write in my most important objectives that are specific to the unit/grading period.
2. Hit Pinterest for all the ideas I saved, and see where they fit in. Also look at the previous year's list to see what I want to repeat.
3. Check off all the matching media/styles/subjects/connections, and look for gaps or excesses. Figure out how to balance it out by changing media, etc.
5. Once you have your year planned and balanced, this makes it easy to begin the more in-depth (yawn) lesson plan writing. wah-waaaah. Oh well, at least the first part was fun!

I just added this "Year-at-a glance Art Lesson Planning List" to my Teachers Pay Teachers store - try it out if you need some organization with your long-term planning!

Secret Code Collage: Auguste Herbin (2nd grade)

I was excited to find a new inspiration piece for my second grade lesson on geometric shape when I came across the captivating work of French artist Auguste Herbin online. I was really surprised that I wasn't familiar with this artist, since I'm a big fan of nonobjective, colorful art. Many artists call this type of work "Art for art's sake," because it doesn't have to represent anything other than the interaction of elements like color, shape, and space. Adding to the excitement, as I read, I discovered that this artist used a SECRET CODE in his work - how cool is that? He called it the "Alphabet Plastique," meaning that the alphabet could "change" into shapes and colors, like a code. Here are two works using the Alphabet Plastique method, Rouge (red) and Oui (yes).

After learning a little about this artist, and comparing him to our last artist of inspiration, Joan Miro (also from Europe, used mostly organic shapes), we set to work on our codes. Usually we title our work last, but this time we came up with the title first - I love Krish's title "Little Sunday." Many of them were inspired by Herbin's simple titles including days of the week and colors.

Here we are, starting the collages - so exciting!

We noticed that Herbin stacked many of his shapes to show them off better and to help fill the space.

When our collages were complete, we quizzed a friend to see if they could figure out each other's code.

At the end, we critiqued ourselves and our classmates using the Art Stack - I just added this to my TpT store if you want to try it, and I am also putting the code handout on there.

We had so much fun with all aspects of this lesson. Here are some things I may do differently next time:
1. Drawing/coloring the geometric shapes instead of collage. Sometimes it was hard to stay focused on the geometrics when cutting. Especially when there are so many interesting papers in the scrap box :).
2. Placing the code shapes on a separate strip or different color, and then the extra shapes around it. This way the title, in code, stands out from the background.
Definitely a keeper, and I can imagine many ways of experimenting with this!