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2nd grade

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I love celebrating fall in New England with fresh apples, beautiful leaves, and pumpkin flavored everything. Drawing pumpkins has also become one of my favorite fall lessons. This lesson is part of a vertically aligned drawing curriculum using elements of fall to teach observation skills to Kindergarteners-4th graders. (The entire curriculum is still a work in process.)

I teach this lesson to my second graders in October. Students are usually really excited to draw the pumpkins and learn a few tips for making their drawings better. I also like teaching an observational drawing lesson early in the year to build student’s confidence.

I buy 6-7 mini pumpkins (each under a $1) and put one on each table. The most important part is finding pumpkins with interesting/unusual stems so that they are more interesting to draw. Before the first class, I put a small piece of colored tape on the bottom of each pumpkin so that I remember which pumpkin I put on each table.

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This year, I created a step-by-step visual giving students a way to breakdown all of the steps into smaller parts. After demonstrating how to use the handout, students get to work. Some students follow the steps one-by-one and some students work more independently. I like that I can use it at the end of the lesson as  check list to encourage students to include as many details as possible.

How do you teach drawing?

Second graders were challenged to create an Underwater Story Collage. As inspiration, we looked at finished stories that past students (current 4th graders!) made. I love how action-packed each one is!

Then students created a setting and character for their story. Students looked used books, pictures and their imaginations to create each part of their picture. They also learned about special collage tools, materials and techniques like edger scissors, different types of paper, and overlapping. After finishing their collage, students wrote a story to describe their picture.

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This is one of my favorite 2nd grade lessons. I was inspired by a lesson my teacher mentor did when I was a student teacher and have since changed some parts of the lesson. First, students drew a dinosaur. Students looked at real dinosaurs for inspiration and gave their dino some kind of texture. Next, they created a habitat that matched the type of dinosaur they made.

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I asked, “Can your dinosaur fly, walk, or swim? Students used tissue paper and water to create a background. The tissue paper came off easily once it was try, and the color of the ink was left on the paper (like using watercolors). Last, students used collage papers to add details to their habitat. We looked at my dino book again for ideas. Details might include mountains, trees, volcanos, fish, clouds, dinosaur eggs, etc. Some kids love this project so much that they end up creating multiple puppets to go with their background. I also thing it would be cool to do this project as a diorama.

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I got the idea for this project from a colleague in my district. On the first day, I read Not-A-Box, by Antoinette Portis and students thought of different ways they could transform an ordinary box into something new. On the first day, students covered the background sides of their pop-up with paper. On the second and third day, students used paper to transform their box into something new and add details. I showed students how to make and attach tabs and many of them used tabs to add more 3D elements to their collage.

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Second graders looked at collage illustrations of the sea and ocean for inspiration, and then created their own underwater scene using collage techniques (cutting, overlapping, and gluing).

First, students looked at fish, sharks, jellyfish, and other animals in the book Sea Shapes, by Suse MacDonald and learned how to create creatures using simple shapes. Next, students looked at the book Down, Down, Down by Steve Jenkins and noticed details (teeth, scales, eyes, etc.) that they could add to make their underwater creatures look more realistic. Last, students used their imaginations to add details (seaweed, shells, coral, treasure chests, etc.) to the environment.

For their first collage projects, 2nd and 3rd graders focused on choosing colors, cutting shapes, and using glue sticks. I started both lessons by defining complementary colors. After they could identify the 3 pairs of complementary colors, I showed them how to cut and arrange their shapes. The second graders were challenged to draw and cut seven different shapes (to match their age) from a 2.25″x3″ piece of paper and then flip and glue them onto a 4.5″x6″ piece of paper. The third graders were challenged to fold and cut positive and negative shapes and then arrange and glue them onto a 4.5″x9″ piece of paper to create a balanced design.