Monday, December 30, 2013

Screen Printing Snowflakes

This is not my original idea but since I've done it for several years with my students, I have no idea where I originally got it.  I love doing these with my students because the results can be so successful.

Day one we talk about folding and cutting snowflakes.  I generally do this project with 4th graders who I can give a more grown up pair of scissors to.  The scissors intended for younger students are awfully difficult to use for multiple layer cutting that is created with the fold.   I have students fold a rectangle in half and then using the center point of the longest edge as the guide, the paper is folder into 3rd and becomes a cone shape.  The top edges are removed to give the cone three straight edges.  From this point students cut away shapes with the focus on paper falling out of the piece.  This avoids the disappointment when only a slit is cut and the snowflake isn't a snowflake.  Since day one is learning to cut the snowflake.  Many snowflakes are cut.  All go home but one that the student chooses for printing the following class.

Day two and this is the WoW day or maybe they are both WoW days.  At any rate.  I have pre-stretched inexpensive cotton fabric on 10" embroidery hoops.  I like the plastic ones best because cleanup is easier and you don't have to worry about warping.  You will get warping from the wooden ones.  Students write their names on the back of 2-3 pieces of dark blue paper and proceed to the printing area.  Here they place the paper on the table with their name not visible; then the cut snowflake is placed on the paper where they would like to see it printed.  Location, location, location.   White acrylic paint is on the table and either printing brayers or old credit cards.  You might also need a few old brushes.   Lay the hoop centered on the top of the snowflake with the concave area facing upward.  You paint will go inside the hoop on top of the cloth.   Use a brayer or credit card to spread the paint around inside the hoop.  Lift the hoop and you will have a beautifully printed snowflake.    I have students turn the hoop over on the table, convex, while waiting to print a second time to keep from transferring the paint and to keep from damaging their paper snowflake which is now adhered to the cloth by the paint.  You can continue to print until you run out of time by adding more paint and squeezing it through the cloth.   To clean-up I just run the hoops under warm water and scrub from the inside with a kitchen brush.  The snowflakes fall out and head to the trash, clean hoops are dried and put away for the next class.   Before using again, I always tighten the cloth inside the hoop to make sure it is taunt.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Pondering Update

Stockbridge Indian Tribe
Drawing from a blog post here from the blog Adventures of an Art teacher, I began my quest to learn all I could about the Native American tribe that would have occupied my area.   I loved the idea of documenting a life calendar with pictures as Katie mention in her post "1st grade counts" but I thought I'd rather make it more culturally relevant by highlighting the culture of the tribe who lived in my area.  I've probably devoted a full 10 hour day to research and hate to have to admit, there's been way too many dead ends. Don't you hate clicking a link just to discover its been removed...aughhh.   Although I can find much historically significant information on the tribe and their migration to Wisconsin when they were run out of the Berkshire Hills, I really couldn't find much definitive information on how they express themselves through their art or craft making.  Lots of suggestions, little details.  Setting all that aside, I have decided to definitely create a unit on Native American art for grades 1-4 beginning on Thursday when we return to the classroom.  I do love Katie's idea of the pictorial calendar and will definitely incorporate that.  I'm thinking lots of brown paper in the shape of deer skins for the foundation.  I've found some wonderful folk stories to share with younger grades that should inspire some work that would produce a pictorial narrative and plan to share information with them about lifestyle and clothing thinking that should inspire a lesson or two as well.  Oh, and I need to check into Totem Poles as well after reading a great post by Mrs. Carter on It is Art Day!.
Still in the planning stages but at least I'm planning now with only a few more day to go.  Wish me well!

Mission House in Stockbridge

Friday, December 27, 2013

Pondering some plans

Google Image
For ten years, I have begun the new year with a clay unit with my students.  This year I have decided to push it back to after February break so my 5 th graders can complete their illustrated children's books.  But this has sure thrown a wrench into my plans and I feel like I'm spending all my break time pondering.  I just don't know what I want to start with students in 1st - 4th grade. I keep considering the elements....maybe concentrate on space or texture.  Or maybe I should keep my focus on something 3D and bring in something sculptural.

So, what are your plans in January?   I'd really be thrilled if someone would share their ideas.  Lots of comments... Please!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

And snowed!

I admit I played a small trick on my precious little kindergarten class yesterday.  We read a wonderful book about a snow day titled "The Snowy Day" by Anna Milbourne and Elena Temporin.  After the reading, I told the students that we would try to bring some snow to New England by building snowmen.   Well, it worked.  Of course, I knew we had a storm predicted but, I'm sure it's exciting for the students to think they had a part in it all!  This is the view out my back window this morning.   Not the 4- 8" that was predicted, but a nice manageable coating of the gorgeous stuff.
I think these two suffered from warm temperatures and melted a bit

Using model magic, students practiced rolling balls in their hands, not on the tables to create a two ball snowmen.  This was stacking in 3D!  I had pre-dipped toothpicks in orange paint to make carrot noses and cut some small twigs off of the trees outside my classroom to create the arms for their snowmen.   Colored model magic was twisted to create the scarf which serves as a reinforcement for the joined areas and also a hat.  Students created hats in their own methods.  I had demonstrated how to roll the clay into a cone for those who were interested.  As is true of all young student works, they are adorable!

Students used black fine point markers to add their own faces and buttons

Monday, December 2, 2013

Kindergarten "Not a Box" books

I posted this past weekend about my substitute plans for tomorrow.  I had everything ready to go, books copied and assembled but confidence was waning so I decided to try out the lesson with my Kinders class today.  Her are a couple of photos of the books during assembly.  I was able to do double sided copies so it really does go together like a book.
 I made certain to line everything up then carefully flip the book over so no staple ends would be exposed.  Since the books are 9" when opened flat, the staples were at 4 1/2".   It was necessary to borrow the long necked stapler to put these together.

The lesson went well with my class today.  The kids enjoyed the reading of the book and the wonderful, yet simple illustrations.  They couldn't wait to begin their own.  Since I had everything assembled, I allowed them to select what cover color they wanted.  (one piece of construction paper cut in half made two covers).  Here is how I conducted the lesson.   Students identified the first shape in the book, it was a square.  I wrote the work "box" on the whiteboard and they all copied it onto their books.   They all selected a red crayon and colored in their box focusing on good control and trying to stay in the lines.  Next they drew a box on the following page and turned it into something.  I gave each student a post-it where I wrote the word for what they had drawn for them to copy.  This enabled me to move around and not be stuck spelling for a student while the others tired of waiting their turn.  When all were finished, we moved on to the next shape in the book, a rectangle.  Same process, word "rectangle" on whiteboard then written into book and color.  They drew a rectangle and told me what their rectangle was to become.  I wrote that word on the post it for them to copy.   They only completed three pages in the book today, page three was a circle.  I hope it goes well for the substitute tomorrow.  With organization, it went great for me today.   Here are a few finished pages that I had to share with you!

Charley Harper Cardinals

Second graders took a look at some of the work by Charley Harper today.  He is described as a modernist artist and is best known for his simple geometric shapes drawings.  Most of his work depicts wildlife.  The focus today was on several of his prints with a cardinal theme.

Students followed along as they drew their cardinals using the instructions below.

The next step involved taking a look at the vegetation outside the windows of the classroom in order to really see what  a heavy frost made nature look like.   Students then drew various winter dead looking plants around their birds.  Black crayons were used for the drawings and also to color in the black area of the bird's face.  Students using liquid watercolors to complete the composition.  Kosher salt was added to the painting of the sky to make it appear as if it might be snowing.   Here are a few of the wonderful completed projects.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Writing Lesson Plans

I have a professional afternoon on Tuesday and will be missing my Kindergarten students.   It's easy to plan for the older grades, I have them chose a lesson from their sketchbooks but I always feel a bit challenged coming up with plans for a substitute to use with Kinders.  It has to be easy enough for anyone to guide students, challenging enough to last the full class time, and engaging enough so that behaviors won't become a problem.  In a capsule, it's hard to find that perfect lesson.  As I have mentioned before, I always start a Kindergarten lesson with a book.  For this lesson I have chosen "Not a Box" by Antoinette Portis.  I could not find my lesson plan format saved on my computer, how do those things always seem to disappear?  I headed to the Internet for some guidance which is the purpose of this post.  I discovered a really terrific lesson plan generating site that I want to share with  you. The site is here and is called the Lesson Builder.  It is free, easy to use and creates a truly impressive looking lesson plan to leave for a substitute or to turn into an evaluator.

"Not a Box"
Grade Level : K
Subject:  Visual Arts
Topic: Kindergarten Shapes and visual imagery

Objective: Kindergarten students will be able to identify and name shapes and
then make associations to everyday objects that are reflective of those shapes

Prep:  Photo copy pages of shapes, one per student. Collate and staple together into a book. Cut covers in a variety of colored papers for students to chose from. Add student names to back cover of book.

Materials:  Book: "Not a Box" by Antoinette Portis, copies of handouts, construction paper, crayons, Shape activities for "Not a Box" from The Best Children's  I will be using these for the first step of the lesson

Common Core Standards Met:  (This was a drop down menu which I selected from)

Math.K.G.2 Correctly name shapes regardless of their orientations
or overall size.
Math.K.G.5 Model shapes in the world by building shapes from
components (e.g., sticks and clay balls) and drawing shapes.

Method: Direct Instruction   (This was a drop down menu which I selected from)
Goal:  Build Understanding   (This was a drop down menu which I selected from)
Students will listen and interact with a reading of "Not a Box" by
Antoinette Portis.

They will be given a set of shape illustrations that they will identify by
appropriate name. Students will color in the shapes using primary and
secondary colors (crayons).
In the style of Portis' book, they will then turn the shape into an
imaginary object or an actual object that incorporates that shape. (ex:
cone - ice cream cone or top of a tower)
Next - Color in drawings.
When finished staple on a cover using constructions paper which students
will illustrate.

I'll let you know how the lesson goes on Tuesday with the substitute.  Until then, be sure to check out the Lesson Builder.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Drawing Turkeys in Kindergarten

What do you do in the days prior to Thanksgiving break when all the kids can think about is a holiday?  It's useless to try to begin a new project because that always ends in disappointment so I decided to incorporate a lesson on shapes and lines into a drawing a turkey with my kinders this year.  After all, if  you can't beat the problem, find a way to make it work for you.  They turned out so darling I had to share the finished products with all of you.  I started by having the students do a "directed drawing".  I borrowed that term from another blogger over at the Tiny Art Room because I really like how official  it sounds.   I've always called these "follow the leader drawings."  Don't you like the Directed Drawing term better?  Students drew a long thin curved line for the head, added a zigzag collar underneath and then drew a circle beginning on one side of the curved line, extending underneath and stopping at the other side.  It was a precursor to the discovery of using space in art which was further practiced as tail feathers made by drawing long skinny curves were added behind the turkey's body and head.  Parallel curved lines with zig zag line feet completed the legs and feet and curved lines added to the sides of the circle created wings.  An angle for the beak and oval, circle, and dot created the eyes.  At this point student's personal creativity kicked in as they completed the backgrounds and added color to their turkey creations.  I love how these came out.  With Kinders it is the constant encouragement to take it one step further and develop a completed composition but I am always thrilled as they take hold of their work and imaginatively create their art.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The only other Thanksgiving project I teach

by Cassidy
by Alex
I love this fingerprint book by Ed Emberley.  I've used it on various occasions throughout the year and often pull it out to use the week before Thanksgiving for a quick one day project with my students.  First grade students printed pilgrims, a turkey and a native American this week as a part of the November printing unit.  They have mono-printed with ez cuts, Lego printed and finally fingerprinted for this unit.  I have a copy of the instruction page for each student to follow along and also lead the drawing using my document camera.  Students begin by making fingerprints using skin colored water based markers.  I also give each student a baby wipe to clean their one printing finger when they have completed the fingerprints.  The process reviews the line concepts of horizontal and vertical as prints are made on a piece of card stock.  After the markers are collected, students are given fine point drawing pens to add the details to the fingerprints and create their characters.   Again line is the emphasis here as correct words are given for each stroke.  Example:  draw two diagonal lines for the sides of the hat, add two parallel lines to form the top of the hat and the top of the hat band, etc.  I really view this process with an emphasis on line names and direction of line.  Some students add the words "Happy Thanksgiving" to the bottom of their cards which can be given to family members in honor of the holiday.

by Eva

by Annie
student work

by Julianna
student work

student work

Turkeys and Thanksgiving

I generally stray away from any holiday themed projects in the art room unless I can strongly present them with a focus on an element of art and not a holiday focus.  Many holiday projects tend to be more crafty in nature and I stay away from the crafts to ensure that my colleagues and administrators take my program seriously and don't view it as just a time filler.  With that said, here is a recent project for Kindergarten students.  Many of my students are still working on using scissors correctly so I try to incorporate a little cutting practice.  Also, many have not developed an understanding where cutting should take place and will cut every line on the paper until they have completely dissected their projects.  Practice does improve these skills, so we practice!

I wanted to introduce texture in art to Kinders this week.  We first attempted to define what texture actually was.  This is a new concept for them so it takes awhile to make that connection.  After a knowledge of texture was established, I took out some plastic texture sheets and demonstrated how to  use a crayon sideways to color with the plate and pick up the texture on the paper.  Students were given a brown crayon and a large texture sheet to color the bodies of their turkeys.  Upon completion, those were collected and a variety of texture sheets were place on each table along with a mixture of colors so students could complete the color/texture process in other areas of their turkeys.

A review of cutting on the dotted or broken line of the turkey shape came next as scissors were passed out and the cutting began.   This was not an easy cutting project as there were angles and curves to manipulate around.  Happily, only a few turkeys lost their heads and were easily taped back together.  It looks like those cutting skills are developing well!!