Monday, May 27, 2013

Totem Poles

Now that school is out I have so much more time to catch up on blog posts (funny how that works).  In fourth grade, we spend our year looking at "Art of the Americas" which I mean art of North and South America--some things we cover include: women artists (Kahlo, O'Keeffe, and Carr), Mexican crafts (molas, Oaxacan animal sculptures, tinwork, papel amate) and other things like George Catlin and Native Americans.  I learned long ago to curb the Native American part, because it can REALLY take over.  This year we ran really close to the end of the year, so we didn't make as many Native American projects.  I also have a fairly small room, so ideally, I like to rotate through projects so my room isn't filled to bursting with totem poles (didn't work out so well this year).  We get some background knowledge of Native Americans, talk about what we already know, etc.  I ask the cafeteria manager to save cans for me (the big, industrial-sized ones that school vegetables come in) and run them through the dishwasher.  In a school our size, in takes about 2-3 days to get 75 cans.  Everyone gets their own can, with their name and class code written on the bottom in Sharpie.  Then, we spend a day covering them with newspaper and building up layers for our totems--it's like each student is making a section of the totem pole.  I reiterate to them several times that symmetry is important. So, one day of building and (ideally) three days of papier macheing.  I found it's best to do different layers every time so they can see exactly where they've been: first day--newspaper, second day--yellow pages from old phone books, final day--school paper towels cut into strips.  Here are some totems after papier macheing:

Time permitted us to go the regular route in ONE class, and paint a base layer (white):


While in two other classes we went a different route:
 Painting with no base layer (ran out of time).
 This class didn't even have time for papier mache,
so I improvised and just had them use paper. . . eh, I don't know that I'd do it again.

More of the paper sculpture type ones.
Painting is the final step, and that's where the personality of the totems really starts to show.  In a year where we don't run right up to the last day of school, we have a Pot Latch party, raising our totems and taking all our Native American projects home.  I've also put two little spots of hot-glue between them to secure them and displayed them in corners of our hallways (if you do this, you have to be prepared for several accidental and "accidental" knocking over of your totem poles).
 I love the Squidward one--look at those eyebrows!
Eye see you like our totems--sorry, I couldn't resist!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Kindergarten Paints Hens with Chicks

As I've said before, I love painting with kindergarten! How adorable is this?

This is a little lesson I dreamed up several years ago while observing a student teacher (she was struggling with something, I don't remember what, but it triggered this lesson).
Ideally, I like to break it up to a three day lesson, one day of painting hens and eggs:

One day of printing nests with cardboard (sorry, I neglected to take a photo of those all by themselves) and painting chicks (again, no photo).  We paint the hens and eggs on 9 x 12 brown/tan paper, the nests on 12 x 18 sky blue, and the chicks on 6 x 9 white.  Then we read Jan Brett's Hedgie's Surprise.
When they return to art, I give them their hen back first, and a black crayon.  I have them outline their hen, and all the details as well as their eggs.  Then we cut those things out and glue them to our nests.  Then we trace our chicks and cut them out, putting them all over their mamas:

I did learn (today, as a matter of fact) if I'm really pushed into it, (say, for example, there's only a week of school left), and I have to I can squeeze painting all three papers into one day, but we've got to be working.

I love the personality of them.  They're so free and sweet and real--that's why painting with kindergarten can't be beat!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

New Twist on an "Old" Lesson

Anyone else do the Klimt sleeping baby lesson?  The one where the students draw lines first (to be the quilt), then add the sleeping face, and patterns in the spaces of the quilt?  I've done it many times, and in several different ways: all drawn, with a collaged face, marker/crayon patterns, crayon resist patterns. . . .this year, I decided to add a small printmaking element:

I only have six or eight of the patterned rollers, so we really had to take turns in our classes of 24.  We used printing ink and ice cream tub lids (because I can't afford real bench hooks).  HUGE hit, and I love the way they turned out:

This time, I had them draw the face first, then the lines for the quilt (in pencil, then traced in Sharpie).  It was just a simple crayon/watercolor resist for the quilt, with crayon for the face.  Then we did our printing with the brayers, cut out our sleeping selves and viola!

They look so great hanging in our halls :-)

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