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

4th Grade Henry Moore Unit -Part 1: Clay Abstract Sculptures

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I stated the school year by having all of ky classes create abstract assemblage sculptures using a random assortment of things from my supply closet.  You can check out the details on the post I wrote about it by searching "First Week Activities" in my searchbar. Soory, but for some reason, I can't figure out how to make a hyperlink using this blogger app! 

Anyway, the first day activity acted as a lead-in for all the 3D projects I was doinf with all my classes. Ot was an especially effective introduction for my fourth graders because it really helped the kids understand the coxnept of abstraction, which is the cornerstone of Moore's work.  

For this project we viewed a PowerPoint on Moore's life and work, discissed abstraction and positive and negative space, and then, without a demonstration, I set em' loose.  The sculpting took 2 4 40 minute art sessions. On the second session I did use a demonstration where we looked at 3examples of Moore's sculpture and defined the characteristics we noticed, one of the key ones being the smooth texture, Whoch I showed them how to achieve on their clay by using a bit of water.  After The projects were fired, we glazed  them.

The glazes I used were Sax True Flow Cystal Magic in Sassy Orange, Pagoda Green, Royal Fantasy, and Black Onyx. The color quality is really nice, but be prepared to spend some time mixing them because the textured color granules settle and solidify at the bottom. I got quote the arm workout between all the shaking, squeezing and stirring I had to do to disperse the texture throughout the glaze. 

2nd Grade Wayne Thiebaud Unit Part 1-Clay Melting Ice Cream Cones

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Second graders are finishing a unit based on the artist Wayne Thiebaud. The unit consists of clay melting ice cream cones followed by a two dimensional project where students create painted stacked ice cream cones. The kids love Wayne Thiebaud and are usually really engaged in the projects when I teach his artwork. Here are how the clay lesson went:  

 The clay cones took two days to sculpt and one day to glaze. After going over all the rules and directions for handling clay and washing our hands after using it, I spent the rest of the period showing them how to create two pinch pots and attaching them using a toothbrush and water. I found that just scrubbing the clay with the toothbrush and water was enough to get it to stick, and that I didn't need to make slip and use a fork and a brush like I usually do. 

After the kids made the two pinch pots, they attach them together and then squished the edges to make them look like melting ice cream. On the second day I had the students lightly pound a piece of clay on pieces of Carrugated cardboard. They pounded the clay with the cardboard facing in one direction and then carefully picked the clay up and turned the cardboard 90° so it was facing a different direction, after pounding the clay again, they were left with a crisscross textured shape. They then used a wooden stylus to trim the slab into a triangular shape and very careful rollled it into a cone shape. 
They used a toothbrush and water to attach the two sides together. At first I had the kids join the two sides but after doing it a few times I realized that if they had the edges overlap instead of just touch, it was much easier for them to create the actual cone shape without it coming apart. Although, you do have to emphasize to the kids that they have to smooth the two pieces together carefully so that they don't lose too much of the texture while doing it. 

Lastly, they attached the cone to the scoops. When class was over, before I put the cones in the back to dry, I checked each one and poked a hole with an awl through the bottom of the scoops up into the cone to make sure that there were no air bubbles that would cause the clay to pop or crack,. This year, I also had the kids simply make a paper label using sharpie (so it doesn't run if it gets wet) to write their name and place it under their sculpture and when I put the sculptures away to dry, I would write their names on the bottom. In the past I've had the students write their names on the bottom or simply write their initials, but somehow with the initials and the sloppy handwriting, there were inevitably some students whose work got lost in the shuffle. So far, writing their first names myself has worked out much better.

For glazing I used Mayco Stroke and Coat. The kids had seven colors to choose from. The colors were JavaBean and Tigertail for the cone, and honey dew, cottontail,  tu tu tango, orange a peel, and blue yonder for the ice cream. Stroke and Coat is great because you don't necessarily need to have three coats for the color to be really vibrant and in most cases, the color of the glaze unfired is pretty similar to the fired results, so you don't have to worry about the kids getting confused and choosing the wrong colors or colors they don't want for their project, if you don't have time to make samples.

Conference Day Ideas

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It's so infrequent that I get the opportunity to just sit down with my peers and discuss art. Today, was our superintendents conference day and I have the pleasure of being able to sit with two of my elementary art teacher and colleagues and just discuss teaching art. We talked about everything from handwashing procedures to accommodating students with special needs, lesson materials, power points and notebook software we've created, and even just vent to one another about the day-to-day challenges of being an art teacher. I can't tell you how enjoyable it was to just have some downtime quote with my peers. Sometimes, just having the time to talk is more beneficial than a whole days worth of structured Professional development. Here are a few pictures I snapped with my iPad of some of the things we discussed.

Before pictures above are a fifth-grade Zentangle relief style project. The project is started with some simple wavy lines, or you could say, "taking lines for a walk". You then discuss with the children exactly what is Zentangle is in the way patterns are created. Some children are going to need more coaching in this than others. You also have to really explain to them that patterns are everywhere and having an activity like a pattern search, or having them walk around the classroom and observe and all the different the different patterns all around them, would also help to inspire them. After that they fill in the loops that they've created with their overlapping lines with the  zentangles using a fine point or extra fine point sharpie, and then color them. Lastly, they decide where they're going to cut their drawings in order to make parts pop up and then glue them onto a rigid backing.  Another good tip that was shared with us were the new adult coloring books that you see everywhere nowadays. This particular  teacher picked hers up in the dollar store and passed a few books around so the students could use the images as inspiration

This project above, is a Debuffet inspired card stock sculpture using X-Acto knives and sharpie markers with Elmers glue. This project was completed by 6/7 and 8th graders.

The two above adorable pictures are pinch pot birds made from clay and raffia tied nests. I even love the red and turquoise glazes she used on the bird.

This project is one of the first project of the year this teacher teaches in kindergarten. It's based on the idea of "taking online for a walk".  The students paint simple freeform lines with a chubby brush on the first day and then on the second day using, tempera cakes, the students get a slightly smaller brush, choose three colors for unity, and fill in their lines with the paints. On the third day, the children can go back in with an even smaller paintbrush and add different patterns. This is a great lesson that teaches line, shape, color, and helps the kindergarten students develop their fine motor skills with different sized paintbrushes. It also helps to teach them the routines of handwashing, brush washing, and how to paint in general.

This artwork was done by first grade. It uses one Joam Miro as inspiration for the design. And tempera cakes along with oil pastel to fill-in.

 This is a great all-purpose are rubric that was posted in her classroom.
 Lastly, the image below I snapped because I absolutely love the Mondrian inspired deer head. This wasn't a project, but was something she picked up through the website Zulily, which occasionally apparently has these odd off 3D cardboard puzzles that are inspired by artists. At the time, she had some middle school student put it together and said that it only took them about 20 minutes which is pretty awesome considering how complex it looks!