Monday, January 30, 2012

Finished Celtic Knots

After trying this with a few classes, I don't know why it never occurred to me to have them draw on colored paper, using the black and white charcoal.  I did that for my second example, (above) and it turned out much better.  But still, they are able to do the project with minimal whining.  I've found it's important to give them only the soft charcoal pencils and not the hard ones, since the hard ones obviously don't make as dark of a mark.

But here are a couple of the first few to be finished.  The later classes have drawn them on construction paper.  I found the construction paper, being more fibrous, I guess, took the charcoal better and added more contrast to the shaded parts.  But the white ones are very nice as well.  I found I really had to get the kids to think SIMPLE!  I coached them through drawing the center of the design, and then let them finish it however they liked.  A lot of them wanted to go nuts with overlapping knotwork, which did not translate well when they tried to transfer it into the other sections.

This one was just simple enough, and she did great with the shading.  So there ya go,  Fourth Graders CAN do Celtic knotwork!  :)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Mondrian Mixed Media

I have tried to do Mondrian with my littles before, but so far it has always turned out looking very blah.  This year I was determined to get better results with the kiddos, and so I went with my old philosophy of "keep adding stuff until you like it."

So First Graders are still working on motor skills somewhat.  The objectives for this were to make horizontal and vertical lines with a ruler, to be able to talk about Mondrian, to make artwork using geometric shapes, and to name the primary colors.

First I had the kiddos look at my Mondrian slides, briefly.  He's an artist I really like, but I tend to not elaborate very much about his history.  Simple is simple, right? 

Then I talked them through how to make real horizontal and vertical lines on their 12 x 18 paper.  I had them think about Balance and making some spaces open, while others were more filled in with smaller shapes.  I took a lot of time showing them how to hold the ruler still and draw with their other hand.

Then, that same class period, I had them paint in some of the boxes on their paper.  I again emphasised Balance, and suggested they pick three boxes to make red, three blue, and three yellow, making sure they were spaced out all over.  Some of them still didn't really do that, but it was fixable with the next step.

The following class period, I pulled up "Broadway Boogie Woogie" and we looked at it more closely.  I had the first graders go over all their pencil lines with Sharpie.  Then, I had them use glue sticks to add smaller construction paper squares and rectangles onto their paper.  I told them how they could stack the shapes, put them in empty boxes, or glue them right on top of the places they painted before.  I also had long strips of black paper in the box that they could use to emphasise some of their black lines.  As they glued things on, they had to keep everything horizontal and vertical.  No diagonal placement was allowed!

So we broke some of Mondrian's rules a little, but I am much more pleased with the results this time around:

Having the whole group working in Primary colors made me think how great these would look all hanging together in the hallway.  That is, if I EVER had time to hang all that stuff up!  I have over 800 students...but that's another story!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Frank Lloyd Wright- Inspired "Stained Glass"

I had been envious of the pretty chalk and glue line projects I've seen on other blogs, and it finally dawned on me that I could do that with black construction paper...

Second Graders have the North American Theme, and so I decided to tie this in with Frank Lloyd Wright, his geometric style and his stained glass.  We talked about geometric shapes vs. organic shapes, Balance, and Space.

I gave the kiddos a black piece of construction paper, about 6 x 9.  I told them to write their names on the back and then put their pencils away, because we were gonna draw with GLUE.  I found that it worked better to have them draw directly onto the paper with the glue, rather than try to make a design with the pencils first.  When they drew with the pencils, they made everything too small, and then trying to go over it with the glue was frustrating.  So, they made simple, geometric shapes, and made sure to leave some open space so they could "see" out of the window.

The following class I gave them chalk pastels to color in the spaces around the glue shapes.  I'd planned on giving them paintbrushes with tissue wrapped around the wrong end for blending, since I didn't have any Q-tips at the time.  One kid started using the actual brushy end of the brush to blend the colors, and it worked GREAT!  As long as they washed the brushes out afterwards, I let them use the paintbrushes for blending.  One less thing to buy!

Here's how they turned out.  There wasn't a single one that didn't look gorgeous!

Variety Paintings

I do a lot of abstract art with the littles. They are better at making "lines, shapes, and colors" than they are at making realistic subjects.

So for our painting lesson, we looked at the work of Kandinsky and talked about Variety.  We learned the sign language for Variety, Line, Shape, and Color, and we painted like super artists.  This week we took the paintings and added even more variety by using skinny markers in the white spaces.  I LOVE THE RESULTS:

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

How to Paint with Kindergarten. ALL THE COLORS!

I am an elementary art teacher, and I ain't scared.  I can have my Kindergarteners (usually a class of about 30) paint.  YES, TEMPERA PAINT!  I'm sure you have your favorite way to manage paint in your classroom, but here is the method I've found to work the absolute BEST.

First of all, I love tempera cakes for littles.  For the big kids, not so much.  The little ones though do very well, and set up is minimal.  Firstly, I have seven tables in my classroom.  On each table I place a tray (I bought these from School Specialty, but you could use muffin tins if you prefer.  They're the perfect size.) And in each tray are ONLY one color of tempera cakes.  Each table though, gets a different color.

Next to the paint, I place a large cup with a wide bottom with brushes in it.  NO WATER.  I hate for paintbrushes to soak in water, for many reasons.  But with the littles, they inevitably tip it over, so I just don't give it to them.  :)

Here's how it works.  During my instructions the paint and brushes are on the table, but the tempera cakes are dry.  After my directions, I then squirt water into each of the paint trays using a little squeeze bottle.  Once a table has wet paint, I let them get up to get their art shirts.  I usually don't give them water until they show me where they've written their names on their paper.  This accountability is good for them, and they've begun to police each other. 

After they are shirted up, they can use the brushes on their table to "dab, dab, dab" in the wet paint, and "brush, brush brush" on their paper.  My colleage uses the phrase "tickle the paint" and I like that as well.  After they are done with the color at their own table, here's the trick.  They put that paintbrush BACK IN THE CUP.  Then they pick up their paper and MOVE TO ANOTHER TABLE!  I have children wandering freely around my room, and the paint doesn't get mixed up because the brushes live next to the paint tray, and stay with their own color.

I wash the brushes at the end of class, because I still don't really trust Kinders to do that.  Maybe one day.  Dream a little dream.

Clean up is easy too.  I give a couple kids the job of returning the brushes and the paint trays to me.  (More on how I assign jobs later.)  And then I go around the room and when a kid is in their own seat, I give them a baby wipe.  We then have a "dirtiest baby wipe contest."  This keeps the kiddos from throwing away their wipe when it still has wiping power.  I can also tell who is actively looking for paint to clean up.  And they LOVE this.  Whoever has the dirtiest baby wipe usually gets a little perk, like an extra big behavior buck or a sticker or whatever.