Musings about the importance and impact of art and art education in the 21st century.

Musings about the importance of art and art education

5th Grade Islamic Tiles

♠ Posted by ArtMuse

The idea for this project came to me quite a few years ago when I had come across Ed Emberley's thumb print drawing book and loved it so much that I googled a few of his other works and came across his book "Picture Pie".

The book is a great tie in with a math lesson based on fractions. Originally for the project, I had children use circles they had traced from container lids that I saved and then cut them into fractions to create any kind of picture they wanted. However, the problem with such an open ended project is that some students really sore and some students really fall short.

After having reflected on the triumphs and shortcomings of the original project, I decided that the fractional pieces would be best used to create some kind of symmetrical design, and I immediately thought of Islamic tiles. Fast forward a few years later, and I have two extra fifth-grade classes this year that get an extra day of art every other week and figured this would be a great opportunity to try out my tile project.
Here are a few finished examples:

5th Grade Wayne Thiebaud Unit -clay Cupcakes and Cupcake Triptychs

♠ Posted by ArtMuse
This unit took about 12 weeks to complete, it was a real doozy! However, I have to say that my students really rose to the occasion and came out with some amazing artwork. Of all the units I've ever taught this is probably one of my favorites.  It all started a few years ago with a fourth-grade class who had an extra art every other week. That particular class happened to be a really calm, focused group of kids who worked really well together and didn't need a tremendous amount of structure or direction to complete the assigned tasks. Because of how independently they worked, and how much freedom I was able to give them, I had the idea of introducing three styles of art and having them create a cupcake triptych which represented each of those styles. 

At the time, I kept the lesson really open ended and exploratory with almost little to no demonstrations or explicit instructions. I simply gave them a few informational sheets, images, and some tips and tricks for using  different materials and let them do their thing. The results I got were really individual and unique to each student and I love the idea that their personal styles were able to come through and be developed while working on a project like this. 

Fast forward a few years to my current fifth-graders, who are my first graduating class and who I've taught since kindergarten, and with whom I feel really comfortable, and so I figured I would give the lesson a try again. This time, I structured the project much more and centered it around artist Wayne Thiebaud. I created a PowerPoint for the project and assigned specific materials to specific styles. I started the unit with clay cupcakes where the kids used silicone molds to create the bases and coils or pinch pot tops for the icing. Following the clay portion of the unit, the children started their 2D triptych. One cupcake had to be in the style of Wayne Thiebaud with oil pastels, the second had to be Surreal with colored pencil, and the third Abstract with markers.

3rd Grade Teacups

♠ Posted by ArtMuse in

I loved this lesson. It was simple to teach, gave the students a lot of freedom, and just about everyone came out with great results. I basically reviewed how to create slabs, pinch pots and coils and then showed the students a few slides of a PowerPoint with the various kinds of tea cups from different cultures and time periods as inspiration. Then, I set them loose! When talking with the students about their work, they had all kinds of creative inspirations that they used for their pieces. This would've been a great lesson to display with QR code of the students discussing their creative process.