Wow!! I have been blown away by this lesson. Last summer I went to the exhibit Spring into Summer with Andy Warhol and Friends! at the Bruce Museum in Connecticut with my mom. When I saw Andy Warhol’s series of Endangered Animal Prints, I knew I wanted to try something similar with my fourth graders this year.
After working abstractly for quite a while, I thought this lesson would be a good way to balance the curriculum because students are challenged to work observationally and experiment with various color combinations and layering.
As I was making a PowerPoint of some examples of Warhol’s prints, I came across this lesson by Mr. Stoller at Thomas Elementary. I used some of his images when presenting this lesson to my students, but gave them more color options and used Pacon Fadeless Paper to print on. I also set out pieces of painted paper for students to use if they wanted a more textured effect. (The prints measure 6″x6.”)
In my intro, I described Warhol’s commission (as described in the above link), defined endangered species, and showed students examples of prints from his series.
I printed out a variety of images of endangered animals ahead of time and students looked through my selection, or asked me to look at the WWF Species Directory and print out a picture of an another animal on the list. They were surprised and curious at the different levels of conservation status–from near threatened and vulnerable to endangered and critically endangered.
After drawing their animal with pencil, students taped their drawing to a square piece of Styrofoam and traced the outline of their animal with a pencil. Then, they lifted up their paper and carved their lines using a carving tool.
Next, students were ready to print layer one. I reviewed how to use the printmaking tools and students got to work. For the first layer of ink, students are limited to one color, but could choose different colors of paper if they wanted to.
After printing at least four copies of the first layer of their animal, students washed off their Styrofoam, dried it and reattached the tape. (Before printing, I had students trace the outline of their tape with a Sharpie so they would know where to attach it.) Students used the same method as above to trace the eyes, nose, mouth, fins, fur or other details of their animal and then carve the lines with pencil.
Then students cut out the outline of their animal and began printing their second layer of ink.
Some students loved the printing process so much that they printed a third layer of ink to create a background or to change the color of a specific detail of their animal.
The last step was to create a background and/or add details. Students had three options for this step:
- oil pastels to add brighter colors;
- colored pencils to add fine details;
- or collage papers, including tissue paper, painted paper and construction paper.
Below is a sample of students finished prints.
After practicing making all different types of lines, I challenged kindergarteners to develop strong printmaking and coloring skills by making colorful Mandala Line Prints.
First, k’s reviewed different types of lines and drew them onto a triangle piece of Styrofoam using a magic marker. Next, they carved their lines using a wooden carving tool.
At the beginning of the next class, I demonstrated how to print with the ink. Students watched how to use the rollers to put ink onto the Styrofoam, line up their triangle on their paper (so the long side touched the edge) and then print their design with a clean roller. K’s watched as the ink came off the Styrofoam and onto the paper and learned that each time they wanted to print, they needed to reink their piece of Styrofoam.
After the demo, students who were ready to go began printing. I put out piles of paper on the rug and set up the tables in my room so that there were different ink colors at each table. Students chose which table they wanted to go to to do their printing. Each student printed their triangle into their paper four times.
Each student made two “final prints” so that they could try out different colored inks on different colored papers. If a student didn’t use enough ink or didn’t press hard enough with the roller, their print didn’t show up. When this happened, I had students reink their triangle and try printing on the back of their paper.
The last step was to color in their lines with colored pencils. I talk about choosing colors that are different then their ink color so that their lines “stand out.” Sometimes I hold up their papers from across the room and ask them if they can still see their colors… and sometimes they ask a friend to hold up their work while they walk across the room to check out their work from “far away.” 🙂
The second grade Not-a-Box sculptures continue to impress me! This is hands-down one of my favorite lessons to teach all year. I usually plan for these to take three classes, but students almost a spend six-seven class periods working on these. Here are just a few of the many amazing sculptures my students created this year.
“This is a playground with a school! There is a slide and it works. It is also in the evening.”
“This is an art studio. There is a little girl standing on the floor. The little girl is me (in my pigtails).”
“This is awesome. This is an art studio.”
“This is a basketball gym and a soccer gym. And sometimes an exercise gym. Hope you like it.”
Cottage & Backyard
“I made my not-a-box into a little brick cottage. There is a pool in the corner, a tree in the other corner and the stuff near the tree that is kind of stringy is moss.”
“I made my box into a bunny hole. (The bag on the back has bunnies you can play with.) Mine and C’s connect! Mine is a up close version of her back yard. I got the idea for the pond from N. The mama bunny’s name is Clover because my mom had a bunny named Clover!”
“This is about Pokemon. Two people are in the Pokemon Center and they are catching Pokemon and one escaped.”
Headless Nick’s House
“This is Headless Nick’s house. He does not haunt muggles*. He is the ghost of Gryffindor.”
muggles = normal people
“I made a sun and a sky. I made a campfire with wood.”
Wolf in the Forest
“Hi. I’m a wolf. I live in the forest and I eat fish and more food.”
“This is a house with a dog house. And with a garden and flowers. And with people on a trampoline.”
This is a picture of the note I attached to each student’s project. I have begun including notes when I send home 3D work to give parents a little more info about the process behind the artwork.
For a full description of this unit, click here.
We get a lot of snow in Boston–this year we’ve had five snow days!–so I’ve designed a landscape painting unit that incorporates some of the magic of the winter season. For this assignment, students create a “snow globe” landscape painting of a cold or winter landscape (which also allows students to choose a cold place other than Boston).
As inspiration, I show students a slideshow of illustrations and student examples from previous years and ask questions like “What animals do you see when it’s cold?” and “What does the sky look like when it’s cold?”
I also show illustrations from The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats and describe what a horizon line is: a line that separates the ground from the sky. There are a lot of interesting lines used throughout this book!
I also create a “resource station” of picture books, reference books, toy animals and “how-to-draw” handouts for students to use as they work.
After this discussion, students begin composing a cold/winter landscape in their sketchbook. They begin by drawing a horizon line.
Then they add “clues” so that viewers know it’s a cold place, like winter trees, snow, foot prints, winter animals, Christmas lights, wind, etc.
During the next class, students trace a circle tracer onto a piece of watercolor paper and redraw their landscape inside the circle.
After drawing with pencil, students have the option of tracing their lines with Sharpies before coloring their picture with crayons.
On the third or fourth day (depending on the pace of the class), I demonstrate a few different painting techniques that students can use to make a snow effect:
1. Students can draw snowflakes with white crayon or oil pastel and then paint over them with watercolors.
2. Students can paint with watercolors and then sprinkle salt on top.
3. Students can paint with watercolors and then use a q-tip to paint snowflakes on with white acrylic paint.
4. Students can add small dots of glue and then sprinkle glitter over the glue to create snow.
After painting, students cut out their image and then create and attach a base on to the back of their picture to create a snow globe. Lastly, students write a sentence or two to describe their artwork.
A selection of finished paintings is currently on display in the main hallway. 🙂
Below is a list of books I check out for students to reference during this lesson:
- The Snowy Day, Ezra Jack Keats
- No Two Alike, by Keith Baker
- Snow Music, by Lynne Rae Perkins
- Snowballs, Lois Elhert
- Face to Face with Polar Bears, Norbert Rosing & Elizabeth Carney
- Marven of the Great North Woods, Kathryn Lasky
- Snowboard Twist, Jean Craighead George
- When Winter Comes, by Nancy Van Laan
- The Christmas Doll, by Wendy Mathis Parker
- Snow, by Uri Shulevitz
- The Fiddler of the Northern Lights, by Natalie Kisey-Warnock
- The Snowman, Raymond Briggs
- Penguins, Seymour Simon
- Nora and the Great Bear, by Ute Krause
- Blizzard, by John Rocco
- Owl Moon, by Jane Yolen
Fourth graders recently finished a unit on abstract art. After creating Abstract Portraits with my student teacher, I wanted students to learn more about abstract art and to have some time to experiment with various materials.
For the first lesson of this unit, I played several instrumental songs and students tried painting the sounds they heard by using colors and brush strokes. At first, some students looked at me with confused looks–those looks that ask, “You want me to do what?” I asked students to try it out and told them that it would make more sense as class went on. As the music played, I asked questions like, “What color could you use to show how loud or quiet this instrument is?” and “Does the song sound fast or slow? How can you show the speed of the music using your brush?” After a few minutes, the students were dancing and painting along to the music!
During the next few classes, students could add to or change a painting they had started previously or create a new abstract drawing/painting. I limited the paper to 6″x9″ because I wanted students to be willing to try out new ideas and not be too precious with their work. We talked about different things that inspire abstract artists, like experiences, feelings, elements of art, favorite materials and new tools.
As inspiration, I read the book The Noisy Paint Box, by Barb Rosenstock, which tells the story of Vasily Kandinsky, an artist with synesthesia (who experienced sounds as colors), and who became one of the first abstract painters. The students were really interested in his story and had lots of questions about synesthesia. I also showed them footage from On a River, a short video about contemporary artist Heather Day. The video includes footage of Day traveling, sketching and working in her San Francisco home/studio.
On the last day of this unit, students were also given the option of creating their own abstract painting tool using old paintbrush handles and everyday objects like toothpicks, q-tips, plastic forks and string. Students came up with some very creative tools!
Below are some examples of the work that students created. I am so impressed with their willingness to try new materials and engage with this process! It can often be intimidating to create something abstract–something that you cannot quite put a finger on and name. I’m so grateful for students’ openness and willingness to try something new and learn from each other as they worked.
Kindergartners started a line unit a few weeks ago. For the first lesson of this unit, I taught students different types of lines (straight, thick, thin, wavy, etc.) First I said the name of the line and drew it in the air with a “paintbrush” (my finger) as students repeated the words and gesture after me.
After learning each line, I told students that they would be creating a BIG drawing together. To do this, students needed to take turns drawing lines, so we practiced how to do this on the rug first. We talked about some of the skills we would be practicing–like collaboration, compromise and cooperation. As one student put it, “compromise means you take part of what one person wants and part of what the other person wants and put it together.” Once I felt students understood the rules of this drawing “game,” I split them into small groups and each child got a pencil.
Then I played a song from the Broken Flowers soundtrack and the first student in the group began to draw. When I stopped the music, the first person stopped. When the next group member was ready, I began the music again. Students had to start their line where the last person left off and try to fill the entire page without overlapping. I continued the rotation so that each student had about 3-4 turns and then I gave the next direction. Students also had reference pages at their tables with the different types of lines on them.
I passed out markers and told students that next they needed to trace their pencil lines with marker. This time they could work at the same time, but had to talk to each other so that everybody could participate.
The next day, when students got to class I told them that I had cut up their big drawing! Some students were shocked at first, but then got interested when I told them their next step… to choose one of the pieces and add to it. I put different materials at each table I told students that they could choose the materials they wanted to use today by going to different “stations.” We took a “field trip” around the room and I demonstrated how to use the materials at each station. After giving the instructions, students went to the rug to select a part of the drawing to add to.
Students could change stations as they worked, the only rule was that they couldn’t use Sharpie on top of the watercolors.
The following day, students began class with a pop quiz! I reviewed the different types of lines that students could use on the white board and students practiced drawing them one at a time. Then students got their artwork back and continued working. Check out some of the amazing results!
The inspiration for my line handout came from Art is Basic.
As inspiration for this lesson, Ms. Nemes showed first graders botanical illustrations by Maria Sibylla Merian, “one of the first naturalists to observe insects directly.”
Then students practiced being scientists and artists by observing an insect of their choice carefully. Students could choose to study: an insect preserved in resin, a non-fiction book about an insect or a scientific drawing. Each student created a sketch, labeled their drawing and wrote one sentence describing something interesting they noticed about their insect.
Next, students were challenged to translate (and simplify) their complex drawing into a collagraph using mixed-media materials. Students shopped for foam, wire, mesh, oak tag, buttons and string at the “art store” and then cut and arranged the materials to create their collagraph. The last step before printing was to paint a thin layer of mod podge over their collage.
Next, students learned how to print their collagrpah using ink. Each student painted their collagraph with ink and then used the printing press to create 3 copies of their image. After they printed, students added details to their prints using oil pastels and colored pencils.
To begin this lesson, Ms. Nemes read the book Rulers of the Playground, by Joseph Kuefler, about kids who imagine the playground as their own kingdom. The book features great illustrations of slides, tunnels, swings, maps, and other play equipment.
Next kindergarteners were asked, “If you could create your own kingdom, what would it look like?” and students sketched their ideas.
After creating a sketch, students used recycled materials, paper, tape and drawing materials to create a 3D version of their kingdom. Their first step was to create a base for their kingdom by covering a piece of cardboard with paper to mimic sand, water, grass, dirt or whatever students wanted on the ground of their kingdom. Ms. Nemes demonstrated how to measure paper with pencil and then cut with scissors so that it was the right size.
Next, students transformed recycled materials into buildings, towers, trees and more! They also added details like windows, waves, and animals to make their sculpture more interesting. Students had a blast with this project and I’m so impressed with the results!
One of my fourth graders emailed me this stop motion video he made to ring in 2018! I love getting emails like this and am so impressed with how it turned out! Happy New Year everyone! 🙂