Thursday, January 30, 2014

Spinning Stella

I have been super excited to do this project for more than a year.  As always, it started at a conference, where I saw an art teacher talk about the minimalist work of Frank Stella. Have to say, I'm not usually a big fan of his work, but I did learn a lot, and I do like the circles with the white line in between colors.  The art teacher I saw had the students paint circles and add more circles popping out.  I decided to combine her lesson with this one from Dick Blick. It's a painting! It's a sculpture!  It moves!  Art + Science! Looooovvvvvveeeee them!!!

I started saving cardboard circles from frozen pizza the minute I saw the original lesson presented at conference (send out an email to the staff and you'll be AMAZED at how many you'll get.  I did call Mr. Happy Art Teacher called around to some pizza parlors for me, but they don't use cardboard circles anymore, so that's why I went the saving-from-frozen-pizza route).  I gave them the little intro (see more about that part here) and then had them painting our pizza circles white.  They looked at a simple scrolling power point of Frank Stella's circles while they traced circles onto their cardboard.  I told them not to make more than five circles with smaller circles inside (although a few "didn't hear" that direction).  They then got a little review on intermediate/tertiary colors and mixed their own.

Handy-dandy FREE paint pallet from the school cafeteria.
Apple shipping crates cut in half--I use them every day.
We use them once and trash them, but they could probably
be used a couple of times.

The painting did take a while, and I ended up having to give them white and small brushes for the many students who forgot to leave the sliver of white between their colors.

When they finished their pizza circle, I gave them a bit of leftover mat board and had them draw two more circles in the same fashion, and paint them intermediate colors.  When they finished and everything was dry, they cut out their two circles on the mat board.

Now the real fun begins! Carefully using old compasses (think the metal pointy kind) students put holes in the middle of their cut out circles and two holes where the wanted to put them on their larger circle.  I pre- hot glued pony beads to one end of three inch sections of the thinnest dowels I could buy (they're so thin I was able to cut them to three inch lengths with scissors).  

I then demonstrated several many, many, many times the order in which to put their kinetic sculpture together:

Pre-glued bead on bottom, then pizza circle, then spool, then cut out mat board,
finally a bead on top.

I saved spools for this project from my own sewing at home, and also sent out another email and got many that way.  I did tell students to choose two different sized spools (a small and regular sized, for example).  In the Dick Blick lesson, they tell you to order a specific size, but I just used what I had available to me. After they had them together, they brought them to me to hot glue the top bead.  After the glue dried/cooled, students used scissors to cut the top bit of dowel off.

This one doesn't have the bead glued yet, but you can see the
dowel bit that will need to be trimmed.

The next time they came to art I showed them how to add the cord to make them spin (see the linked Dick Blick lesson for directions).  There was a bit of "play" at this point to get them to work, and some work better than others.  It became apparent that it's very important for me to make sure I hot glue them pretty flush, with not much wiggle room, or they don't turn well. 

Still need to add the cord, but I really like the colors on this one.

It just worked out perfectly that they'd reviewed simple machines in their science part of their classes.  A-MAZE-ING!!!!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Kindergarten Tackles the Still Life

This is a lesson I came up with when I got frustrated about kindergarten painting and not rinsing their brushes.  I've done it for several years, and it's always successful.  The first day I show them how to fold their papers into thirds by demonstrating "shut the door, shut the door" while folding the edge in to the third mark.  For some reason, saying "shut the door, shut the door" helps them to only fold to the third mark INSTEAD of folding it in half.  We then paint them all together, one primary color at a time:

Names are pre-written on the back.
The next time they come to art, they get a paper with a built-in pocket (I just cut a slit near the middle of a 12 x 18 paper, then glue a 6 x 9 piece over that).  I then talk with them about their homes, and have them draw a bowl on their counter (with the slit as the opening for their bowls) or their table.  They use crayon for this:

I really encourage lots of details, and really make them work at it:

The third time they come to art, they get their bowl drawings back and their primary paintings back.  Using crayon, they draw fruit on their painting, cut it out and put it in their bowls:

I took these as they were working, so they don't have much fruit in them yet!
They take them home once they've added fruit, and I tell them it's a game they can play with their families.  We practice saying things like "May I have two red fruits?"  "Mom, would you like a blue fruit or a yellow fruit?"  This way they're practicing math skills and color recognition.  So much fun!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Chinese Lotus Books

I feel like I start so many posts in this fashion, BUT, this is a lesson I got at our state conference, hmmmm, probably more than 10 years ago. I actually hadn't done it in FOREVER, but I pulled it out for this group of sixth graders. Part of the reason I hadn't done it in a while is because (and I'm going to sound really old here) glue has really changed in the past 15 years.  It no longer stands up when dry, and I really need it to for this project.  So what's a happy art teacher to do?  Substitute Model Magic or Cloud Clay, of course!

This is the cover.  Years ago, the butterfly would've been made
with a glue line.  We used Model Magic/Cloud Clay.

This is the book open, in it's "lotus blossom" form.
As always, we start our Chinese unit with a smart notebook activity, and you can get it here, just make sure you download the one that says "Chinese Culture and Art".  We spend one class period doing the smart notebook lesson and taking notes in our Asian Art Books (I really should've blogged about that lesson, but alas, I did not!).  When they take their notes, I don't have them write all of the symbols, I just have them choose one and write their choice and it's meaning in their books.  I leave this screen up for a bit for them to choose:

The next time they come to art, I meet them at the door and give each student four 12 x 12 papers.  They get a pencil on the way to their seat, and write their name on each one.  Near their names, I have them write WARM on one, COOL on one, NEUTRAL on one and FREE on one.  We then review those color schemes and they get to work painting with watercolors.  The can only have white showing on their neutral and free choice pages--warm and cool have to be FULLY painted.  I've noticed that sixth graders kind of take their time painting, they're at that self-critical age where they want everything to be perfect.

Free choice.

Cool (same student as above).
Sometimes the painting goes on just FOREVER, so we take a little break and make our symbols on leftover 6 x 6 cardboard/matboard/foamboard/what-ever-I-have-laying-around.  This year it was foam board.  I have them draw their symbol out first, and I check it before the get their Model Magic/Cloud Clay--I check that they're not too small, or have too many details, because those things will make it too difficult and students will get very frustrated.

Students must GLUE their Model Magic/Cloud Clay coils,
or they'll pop off when dry.

We then wait for our covers/symbols to dry, so we finish up our paintings.
When our covers/symbols are dry, they become our printing plates for our four paintings:

This time I wised up and used tempera instead of printing ink:
less sticky, so our pages didn't tear when the books
were put together.

After all that is finally done I show them how to fold them.  They fold the square paper in half (paint on the inside), unfold and fold it in half the other direction (paint on inside) and then ONE TIME into a triangle (paint on the outside).  If they do it correctly, it sort of "pops" in so that it folds in on itself:

After folding their four pages, they line them up so all the folds and openings match, and then they glue them together.  Now it's only a matter of gluing on their cover, coloring it with oil pastel, and adding an "About the Artist" sheet on the back.  I love the little details in the About the Artist profile, and if students hang on to them, I think they'll really like looking back at their sixth grade selves in a few years.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Just a Little Leftover Christmas in January

Time is always so rushed in December.  I have an almost impossible task of getting things done at school AND at home during a month that's rushrushrushRUSHRUSH, and then . . . nothing.  Blissful NOTHING.  No where to be, nothing that must be done RIGHT NOW.  I thought I'd use that time to catch up on some blog posts, but you know what?  I didn't.  I read.  I loved on my babies.  I tried interacting with my teenagers (emphasis on tried). I read some more, loved on my babies some more, watched some Netflix.  So, NOW, I'll do some of those posts I thought I'd get done in December.
Here are two lessons I usually get done and send home before the winter holiday break:
Fourth Grade Oaxaca Sculptures

Second Grade Collage Calendars

The Oaxaca (pronounced Wah-Haw-Ka) sculptures are a lesson I got from Sharon (who I student taught with many years ago) at a state conference, and the calendars come from the book Awesome Art Activities Around the Year, which I think I got from the library years ago, and this was the only lesson that "stuck."
So, the Oaxaca sculptures are made of clay, even though the real ones are made of wood.  I give the students some background information about the Mexican artists who made them in Oaxaca, and have the students make a drawing of the one they're wanting to make:

Traditionally, they're very colorful, so I encourage lots of color on their drawings.  The background info and drawing takes one class period--oh, and I also do a demo of how to make them that same day.  The next time, they make them out of clay:

Toilet paper tubes are used to hold them upright while drying.

They dry, are fired (I forgot to take a picture of them at this step, remember, it was rushrushrush December).  Finally, they're painted with acrylic paint and sent home as wonderful holiday gifts:

While fourth grade is making their sculptures, second grade is working on their paper calendars (I'll be honest, most of my second graders are still working on them in January this year!).  They start out with a 12 x 12 white paper and a bunch of 3 x 3 squares (all colors).  I show them how twelve squares fit around the paper, just like there are twelve months in a year.  They have to think of something for every month (a snowman or snowflake for January, a heart for February, etc). The hardest months are August and September, but we settled on going-back-to-school for August and first day of fall for September.  I also tell them they can make a cake for the month of their birthday, HOWEVER, everything must be cut and glued (no drawing or coloring).  They've turned out pretty well so far:

The final step is when I staple a 2014 calendar in the middle.  I get it from waterproofpaper for free online.  You can go to their site here to print your own.  Once I print it out, it has to be minimized to 64% to fit the collage calendars better.

I'm sure parents will still love our calendars, even though most of them will get them in January instead of December.  One last adorable thing, a student said to me, "Mrs. Fresia, can I get a 2014 calendar for mine? Because 2013 is almost over." Awwww, they're just so darn CUTE, I tell you!
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