Monday, September 30, 2013

Robots in Space!

First graders are learning about how we can use simple shapes to build complicated things, like robots! We looked at examples of robot "parts" and talked about how we could use shapes like rectangles, circles, semicircles, and squares to create robots with lots of moving parts!

Time for an art teacher confession: I rarely do the exact same project with every class. I have four sections of first grade. The first session used gray paper and shaded it their robots with chalk to add value, which I saw and loved in this lesson from deep space sparkle. I thought they looked great, but the kids were not impressed. They just thought it looked "dusty!" So for my next group, I switched to metallic silver paint. The shiny paint was more fun for the kids, but it didn't give the value I was hoping for. I think the best results were with the group that I had do both. We painted with metallic paint first, then added the chalk value when they were dry. Art is about experimenting and finding what works best!

After our robots were finished, we cut them out and put them on black paper. We used chalk dipped in water to create a space-themed background. The wet chalk technique was the highlight for the students!

Roy G. Biv

Second grade students spent the last two weeks working on a rainbow project! I first saw a variation of this lesson on Pinterest. You can find the source here.

I love how bold the colors look when set off with black and white! We watched this video from They Might Be Giants on youtube and learned a little bit about the science of light and how the color spectrum is created. Then we painted a spectrum of color across our papers with tempera and painted some concentric circles using our leftover paint. The following class, we cut out the circles and attached them to our papers, and used white and black paint for accents. They are so bright and fun!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Patriotic Designs

For this lesson, which happened to coincide with classroom discussions of 9/11, the fourth grade students discussed the word "patriotism." We talked about what it meant to be proud of where you come from, and how we can show respect to our country and its symbols. The most recognizable symbol of our country is our flag. We discussed how the design of the flag has changed since its original creation, but its meaning remains the same. We also looked at paintings and drawings from Pop Artist Jasper Johns of the American Flag. It may look different the way he painted it, but we recognize parts of it, and we remember our country every time we see that symbol. The goal here was to "re-imagine" the symbols in the flag into something patriotic that still represented our stars and stripes, and red, white and blue! We used stencils and permanent markers to create the designs, and used washable markers and water to fill in the spaces. The kids had so many great ideas!

Keith Haring inspired dancers

Fourth graders spent this week finishing up a couple of projects. The first one was a project inspired by artist Keith Haring. You can find some great information about his life here:

Haring's figures are "universal." They could be anyone: rich or poor, young or old, boys or girls. It doesn't matter who they are or where they come from, because everyone likes to dance! We started out by making some figures on paper that could bend and move like Haring's. We made some practice poses with our own bodies to see where the joints should be. We then cut the figures out to create both positive and negative space figures. They were glued down to a different colored background. Then we outlined the figures and added "wiggle" lines with black paint!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Tar Beach

Tar Beach is a wonderful book written and illustrated by story quilt artist Faith Ringgold. In the story, Cassie Louise Lighfoot, a poor girl growing up in the city, dreams she can fly and that she owns everything she flies over. I read this book with my third grade classes, and then we created cityscapes of our own. First, the students created a skyline that they cut out of paper to use as a stencil. We used the stencils as a mask while using chalk to create glowing lights. The second class time, we used crayola color sticks (one of my favorite art supplies!) to create windows, streets, bridges, moons, etc. in our cities. The last step of our project was to write a short story about where the students would fly to if they could close their eyes and fly anywhere in the world. I love writing about art because it helps me learn so much about my students and what is really important to them!

Here is our writing form:

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Contour Line Shoes

 The first project of the year for 5th graders is complete! Our first class on this lesson was a practice in contour line drawing. We are so used to drawing from our imagination that it takes practice to get good at drawing what we actually see. The students drew several practice drawings of a seashell. They had to draw a blind contour-drawing without looking at their paper and a continuous line-drawing without picking up their pencil. These exercises make us better at using our eyes to help draw a picture. The following class, the students did a contour line drawing of their shoes. The drawings turned out so good, we decided to add some color. Today, they finished their shoes by choosing a color scheme. We added a background color that fit our scheme. They make a pretty impressive display in the hallway!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Hot Air Balloons

 For my first wedding anniversary a few years ago, my husband and I went on a hot air balloon ride over Omaha. It wasn't actually his idea, we went with family. But he gets romantic date points anyway since I didn't have to plan it!
I took lots of pictures, and my first grade students love to hear the story of my adventure. They are always curious about how the balloons work and how they land. We practiced drawing the shapes of hot air balloons and then used the lines we practiced last week to create patterns. We also touched on using different sizes in our picture to make balloons look far away or close up. During the first class we drew and colored the background with crayons. For the second class, we reviewed how to use watercolor paint in a safe and smart way. It's good to review best practices for each material in detail these first few lessons during the year. Paintbrush care is a good habit!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Bad Hair Days!

I always like to start the year with a review of lines. Every grade level does a project that reintroduces all the different ways to make lines. By 4th and 5th grade, we are ready to turn those lines into something really amazing! These projects are partially inspired by the many "zentangle" lessons out there, but I don't actually teach the zentangle method. I have the students start with a line pattern and then fill it with doodles. We focused on contrast-making some areas dark, and some light. I love when I look around the room and tongues are hanging out. That's how you KNOW the kids are concentrating!

 We started this project by taking a digital picture of each student, then cutting off the hair and attaching it to a piece of cardboard. These long pieces of poster board were donated to my classroom last year, so we put them to good use! The kids used eraser and pencil to plan the shape of their hair, then used thick and thin sharpies to divide into sections and create the patterns. We used colored markers to create the background and help the line designs stand out.

4th/5th Grade Bad Hair Days
 You guys, my students are amazing. They seriously impress me and surprise me every day. We began this project in art class, and I sent them to their classroom with the expectation that they would finish their black and white patterns on their own in their classroom. Not only did they finish them, but they came back BRILLIANT! We finished the marker background today in the art room.