I closed out the 2016-2017 school year with an ode to Mo Willems and his fabulous "Pigeon" series of books. A favorite in our school, just about every child knew both the character and the author. Because of their popularity, I didn't have to work too hard to motivate the kids to make these adorable pigeon prints.
First we read a few of the stories. If I don't have time to scan the book and then edit it onto a PowerPoint for my Smartboard, I'll use my visualizer to read the story. I just like the idea of having the images as large as possible for the kids to see.
After the reading, I did a quick demonstration on how to draw the pigeon, by June, the kids didn't need a guided drawing for this, just a demo was sufficient. After they drew their picture on paper I did a follow-up demo that showed them how to trace over their drawing with a pencil using hard pressure onto a Styrofoam printing "plate" and then had them re-trace the indentations on the plate in ballpoint blue pen, creating thick lines. Day 2 consisted of printing. Always a whirlwind, I have a love/hate relationship with printing day. Even the most even-tempered classes get a little bonkers during the cleanup part of the activity. Between putting prints in the drying rack, putting the brayers in the sink, disposing of the inked up magazine pages and newspaper AND hand-washing....and you know their hands are a MESS after making 2-3 prints, it's a whirlwind of organized chaos (I use organized loosely here). I have forty-minute periods and I truly don't know how an art teacher can do it in less than that. On day 3 the students colored their prints, I had them use white ink on black paper with construction paper crayons on top, a technique I've used before on a Dr Seuss inspired printing project Because the prints were only 6x9" and didn't take very long to color. I had them add a decorative frame.
The process of printmaking is just as impressive as the end results and so when hanging these I included the plate, the not-so-good print, and the finished artwork. It's important for everyone to see just how much work goes into making a finished print! (If only they knew how much work goes into it for us too!)
The other art teacher in our school finished out the end of last year with these beauties. They're big too, 18x24". I LOVE working big with kids...it gets them out of their comfort zone and makes the art seem so much more substantial, especially with the little ones like the kinders and first graders. The other art teacher shares my sentiment and the butterflies themselves were painted on 18x24" white paper and then cut and mounted on a colored background.
The white paper was first folded in half and the students drew half their butterfly in pencil first. I taught a day or two of this lesson and when I had the kids do it I told them "no erasers, just draw and re-draw as needed". In my opinion, WAY too much time is wasted on kids compulsively erasing their "mistakes" waiting and trying to make their work "perfect". Although, I will say that if your going to teach your students to work without erasers, that you should really discuss and model it, it helps exponentially when you can coach them through it and explicitly teach why they don't really need to erase at all.
After they drew half their butterflies they used black tempera and a medium-sized wide brush to paint over the half they drew, periodically folding and printing the wet paint onto the other side of the paper to create a symmetrical images. Lines that were faded or didn't quite touch were simply painted over.
The drawing and painting was day 1. Day 2 and 3 consisted of painting the inside of the butterflies with colored paints. Most kids, by June, have no problem matching the sides up pretty consistently. It's AMAZING how much the little kindaroos grow and develop in one year. Kindergarten teachers really do make magic happen.
Day 4 was cutting and gluing the butterflies onto a backing and then adding different embellishments like stickers, gems, and metallic confetti pieces. Some of the children were completely dedicated to keeping their designs symmetrical, even with the embellishments, and some just glue the sparkly stones on willy-nilly, either way the results are adorable. If I ever teach kindergarten again, this is a lesson I would totally "borrow".
Thanks to our schools AH-MAZE-ING psychologist, I was introduced to the book "How do you Doodle?" by Elise Gravel.
This book completely coincides with my search for ways to make my classroom more mindful. Part of what I am trying to accomplish is providing opportunities for students who struggle behaviorally to express themselves and be reflective about their actions. I'm going to place a few photocopied pages from this book in my "focus and fix kit" for students who need to "take a break".
I think it's a really fabulous book and so I wanted to share. Here are a couple of pictures I snapped from the book.
This is by far the best first project I've ever done. In years past I've began the year with all sorts of things that included: - Art room scavenger hunts (to help students learn where everything is) - "Dot" drawings: Give each student a piece of paper with a dot on it and let them create a drawing based off that. - Design thinking challenge: "Creative Problem Solving in the Art Room"- I made a PowerPoint slide of 3 images; a bicycle wheel, a sneaker and a stool and the students had to work in teams of two to create a drawing of an invention and then present it to the class. -Found Object Sculpture Challenge: where the kiddo's used pipe cleaners, popsicle sticks and cardboard tubes to create sculptures. -Straight up rules and routines (super boring!) but yes, I spent my first 2-3 years of teaching spending the whole period on going over and practicing rules.
But for the past 2-3 years I've been starting off the year having the students create a piece or item for a school-wide collaborative art project. Out of all the things I've tried, I like this the best, and this years project is turning out to be one of my favorites. I got the idea for this from doing a google search of "recycled art+ kids group project", or some variation of that. The image that came up that caught my eye is to the right (if this is your picture, let me know and I'll be sure to give ya some credit!). This year I teach grades 2-5 and another art teachers does K and 1. I'm having my kids do the color wheel part and later on, once those are done, I'll have the other teacher have her kids collage the black side of the oak tag with colored CD shards. Then, I'll hang them all up to create some type of mobile. At least that's my thinking so far.... I'll keep you posted!
Whoa, it's been awhile...I almost forgot how much I like blogging! About this time every year I eagerly look forward to catching up on all the great art ed blogs I follow. I really love reading about how all the wonderful, creative art teachers out there setup their classrooms and see all the new tweaks and changes they are making to their rooms and their teaching. It's inspiring (and insightful) when we get to delve into each others practices and learn from others new and different ways to do things. Sometimes something as simple as a saying or signal can give us insight into a more effective way to change our own practices. For the past 3 weeks I've been listening to the 'Everyday Art Room' podcast from the Art of Ed. The always inspiring Cassie Stephens authors and narrates the podcasts and its REALLY impressive. Very clear, concise, and organized, the first 3 episodes have focused on routines, rules, and consequences and I highly recommend checking it out, even if your a veteran teacher. This is my 10th year teaching and I still found her information relevant and thought-provoking.
Listening to her podcast made me re-think my own practices and, as I do every year, I am trying a few little changes in my setup and approach, forever striving to find what works most successfully for me and my students.
This year I'm all about mindfulness. After having a tough last year, I'm going to try my best to stay organized, positive, and really focus on making my classroom as much of a community as I can.
Good luck to everyone starting soon and to all of you who have already gone back!
And when I mentioned hermit crabbin in my post title, I wasn't referring to my long absence from the blog-o-sphere, although I could see how you could misconstrue...This lil' ditty of a project (and post title), got started like this: Today on probably what was the most humid of all humid days this summer, (and when I say humid, I'm talkin' Florida in July, wallpaper peeling, face meltin' humid!), I decided to go into my un-air conditioned room in my mostly un-air conditioned school and get a jump on my setup. The good news is that I was able to unpack all my supply boxes, hang my signs, label, sort, re-stock, decorate AND tackle one of the three bulletin boards I'm responsible for makin' all pretty-and-such. All that's left is 2 boards and a pesky showcase!
"Hermit Crab Shell Change"
What your looking at on this board is an Eric Carle lesson I've seen around on a few pin boards amd such. It was the final kinder project of last year. It was two sessions of paper painting pandamonium followed by 3 more days of drawing, cutting and collage. I sprinkled in some cute clips of hermit crabs and read the book that inspired the project: "A House for Hermit Crab" (duh!).
My fave part of the whole lesson wasn't the adorable smirking quirky crabs, which I do adore, but was actually watching the look on the kiddos faces when I showed them what hermit crabs look like in real life. Amongst the videos I showed em' after reading the story was of a real hermit crab changing it's shell. if you ever wanna see the most varied facial expressions and reactions form a 5 year olds, show em' this video! I got every look from disgust to fascination, but hey, it kept them alll hooked! And really, can you actually teach this project the right way without showing them the real life star of the story? I think not!
Here are a few pictures of my room from my schools yearly "Spring Walkthrough". This is about as close to an art show as I get. I hang a sampling of k-5 artworks that the students have done throughout the year. I posted about the koi pond that I displayed during walkthrough here
Even though I had a wall put up in my room at the end of last year making it a bit smaller (see post here), overall I think it looked great!
At the end of every year my school hosts it's annual "Spring Walkthrough", where teachers line their classroom walls with the work their students have done throughout the year, turning the building into a giant museum. Since our elementary school has a little over 600 students you can imagine the chaos that ensues. This year, one of my favorite displays was my koi display. The first grade art teacher and I hung our work together and showed off her kids 2D koi and my fifth graders koi sculptures. Here are a few pics:
The idea for the clay fish came from a video on youtube by fellow blogger "Adventures in Positive Space". The title of the video is "Koi Fish Sculpture Tutorial"