Friday, May 22, 2015

Really LOUD Potlatch Party

I've made totem poles with fourth grade many, many times.  The cafeteria staff saves those big cans for me and runs them through the dishwasher and we papier mache them.  Problem is, TIME.  Is there ever enough???? At state conference this spring I ran across this lesson at the United Art and Education booth. Here are (is?) some of my fourth graders' work:

Same idea--used the cans (ran through the dishwasher) and I covered them with brown craft paper.  We used thicker paper first to make our patterns, and then traced them onto cardboard and cut them out (lots of whining here about how hard it is to cut cardboard).  Finally we used the regular playcolor sticks to paint the pieces and glued them on.

Each student had a can of their own, and the last day they had art we raised our totem poles and had a traditional Potlatch party! The last day of art for the year is a little wild anyway, so why not just roll with it and let it get loud? If you can't beat 'em, join 'em, that's what I say!

That magical year when I feel like "oh, look at all the time I have with fourth grade" I'm sure I'll go back to the papier mache way, but until then, this lesson was a total success!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

New Friends in Second Grade

I do that mental checklist in my head every year: "did every class/grade level have a rich art experience?" "Did they paint? Use clay?" and usually, printmaking is the one I don't work in with everyone.  Thus, this lesson was created for my second graders.  

We started out reading My Friend by Beatrice Alemagna.  You could buy it super-cheap on Amazon here (I bought mine at one of those damaged freight kind of places that most teachers frequent). 
We then fingerpainted, one day mixing primary colors, and one day mixing secondary colors (each student ended up with two papers).

This was just a fun, let-down-your-hair sort of day.  Little tip I picked up in student teaching: have students paint with one hand and have them clean that hand off the best they can with paper towels before washing, so much less messy!
Next we used donated foam board and something called rosecord that I found in the cabinet when I started here 8 years ago to make a shape:

We then printed that shape onto our [dry] fingerpaintings.  This ended up kind of a mess (think brayer cleaning).  I use ice cream tub lids and we used tempera paint instead of ink (I've had problems with the ink staying sticky in the past, so we stuck with paint).

Sadly, this is the only photo I have of this step.
Students printed their shape two or three times per fingerpainted paper.

We then started some books (I did have a master plan, but I'm pretty sure the students thought we were just doing a bunch of random lessons).  I fell for these artist stamp sets in a catalog (I was going to link to them, but can't find them anywhere now).  In the photo it showed the artist portrait with the artist's name under it.  When they came: no name ANYWHERE on the stamp, front, back or side.  They've literally sat on my shelf for years, but were perfect for this lesson.  I gave 4-5 stamps per table, one pre-made "book" (i.e, three 6 x 12 pages stapled together in the middle) per student and some markers.  I also opened up the scrap box and had the students make environments: country, city, underwater, etc.  

Rainbow affect with one stamp being used over and over.

Love how the artist is inside the castle!

Salvador Dali!

Students LOVED this.  Everyone had a great time, they were super imaginative and amazing.

Next, we cut out our printmak'ed (is that a word? Or did I just make it up? Heck, it's May, I'm just going to go with it) shapes and remembered the Friend from the book we read eons ago.

Students added marker details and created a story (not really with words, only with pictures).

Then we colored our foamcore/rosecord shapes with oil pastel and glued it to our front for a cover:

The final step is to add an "About the Artist" sheet on the back:

While these did take a really long time, the students loved making them, and they learned so much along the way. (Confession: we'll be working on them until the very last second, so maybe I shouldn't use past tense here).
A few more photos, just because they're Ah-Mazing!

At the beach.

Formal wear.

Walking down the street.

I think this is me.  At the lake or beach or next to
my kid's kiddie pool.  Summer is soooo close!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

This Is Not a Happy Post, But Maybe a Necessary One

One of my students has cancer.  I guess, technically, he's not "mine" as the other art teacher had him in her class this year (all 3 weeks he was here).  But I remember him in kindergarten (when he was SO rambunctious in class, when he saw me out with my family at a restaurant he nearly knocked me over with his powerful hug), and last year, when he was in fifth grade. His teacher had concerns about his need to go to the bathroom all the time, so his mom took him for a checkup and they found brain tumors.  Stage 4.  It nearly takes my breath away whenever I think about it.  But he's hanging in, responding to treatments.  I pray for him and his family so often, sometimes (it feels) with every breath.  Because I know what it's like to lose a child, and I don't want that pain for anyone.
If you teach long enough (and I'm starting my 16th year next year), you'll have the crushing pain of losing a student.  Whether it's your second day teaching (did that happen to anyone else, or just me?) or your 20th year, something horrible, incomprehensible will happen.  And it sucks. 
So what can we do? As art teachers?  We can love them up one side and down another while we've got them in our rooms.  We can work hard to make joy in little moments and not get caught up in the day-to-day, gotta-get-this-done, WHY-are-you-bothering-me-with-that sort of things that happen in schools.  Because you never know who or when or what could happen (in an instant) to change it all.  Let's all reaffirm our commitment to bring as much joy and happiness to others as we can for as much and as long as we can.
Art on, friends.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Dreaming a Bit Like Marc Chagall

This is a lesson my fifth graders worked on for quite a while.  We talked about Marc Chagall and looked specifically at "I and the Village".  Then we reviewed some simple math concepts.  Students set up their drawings with an acute angle, an obtuse angle and parallel lines.  They could have a right angle and/or perpendicular lines.

Next we talked about dreams we've had.  So many dreams are anxiety related!  I guess I really never thought about it, but after dream dictionary-ing many the students asked about, it makes sense.  Each space was a different dream/weird idea.  We drew with pencil, traced with ultra-fine Sharpie and painted with Biggie Cakes.  Some got further than others:

My plan is (was?) to hand them in the hall for the fourth graders to find our angles and help them with learning/reviewing those math concepts.  But the end of the year is fast approaching and I wonder if it's worth the time to hang them all . . . reality is I'll probably do it anyway!
I do really like how these turned out, even the ones that didn't get all drawn or painted, they're just so interesting.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Starting to Think of Summer Days Spent in the Garden

It's spring! Like, all-the-way-really-truly spring around here.  To help bring on nice weather, first grade and kindergarten artists made some beautiful gardens:

A group of first grade flower/butterfly gardens.

Kindergarten garden with snake.
I thought I'd blogged about the first grade gardens before, but can't seem to find the post . . . my brain's pretty overloaded this time of year (Jesus help me if I need to remember anything like my debit pin number or my own children's names the last month or so of the school year).  Anyway, first graders used 6 x 18" blue background papers for the sky and 4 x 18" green papers to make the grass.  They then used construction paper to make flowers and colored butterflies (it's a photocopy of four butterflies that I've had for like, a million years):

I only let them cut out one butterfly at a time, color the back (symmetrically, of course) and glue them on one at a time ('cause I don't like lost/confused butterflies).  They glue only the body with the wings folded up:

The kindergarten lesson is one I got from Arts & Activities issue March 2006 (thank you Mary McNamara Mulkey from Sumner, Washington, I use this lesson a lot).  Kindergartners draw along with me making flowers using ONE color of marker, then color in and draw some ladybugs.  

Because my first graders can't accordion fold, I added a pattern snake this year (we used 2 x 24" paper):

And one last close-up of a nicely colored flower:

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