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Second graders had so much fun experimenting with different ways to print leaves. First, students went outside to create texture rubbings around school. Students made rubbings of bricks, the sidewalk, grass, trees, benches and more! Then, students collected 2 leaves and brought them inside to create a second layer of crayon rubbing.

On the second day of this lesson, students learned how to paint with watercolors over the crayon rubbings they had made. Students were also given the option of creating rubbings on tracing paper. On day three, students learned how to print leaves using ink. Students loved experimenting with the different techniques. Students’ finished prints needed to include at least two layers or techniques.

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As part of a fall drawing unit, I want to share three drawing prompts I use with 1st, 2nd and 3rd graders. I love teaching these lessons in the beginning of the year! It’s a great way to build students’ drawing skills, practice routines and build students’ drawing skills from year to year.

1st Grade Apples Drawings: I put one fake apple on each table before students arrive. On the first day, I walk through a few steps of how students might approach the drawing and give them a few tips along the way (like sketching lightly before pressing harder). After drawing for about 5-10 minutes, I do another short demo explaining how to blend colors. Then students have the rest of class and another two classes to finish their drawing.

2nd Grade Pumpkin Drawings: This lesson is similar to the first grade lesson. Before students arrive, I put one mini pumpkin on each table. On the first day, I walk through a few steps of how students might approach the drawing and give them a few tips along the way (sketch lightly before pressing harder). After drawing for about 5-10 minutes, I do another short demo explaining how to blend colors. Then students have another two classes to finish drawing their pumpkin and creating a background from observation or memory. This lesson usually falls around Halloween, and students love adding spider webs, ghosts, vampires, and other Halloween-themed ideas to their picture.

 

Third graders have been talking about how scientists and artists are similar. For this unit, students chose a colorful autumn leaf to observe carefully. Students made sketches of their leaf and labeled it with observations and questions they had. After reading the book My Name is Georgia and learning about how Georgia O’Keeffe made paintings large, so that viewers, “[would] be surprised into taking time to look at it,” students enlarged their scientific sketch onto a new piece of paper. Ms. Nemes taught students how to blend colors used colored pencils or mix colors using watercolors. Then, students colored or painted their drawing and created a background to unify their image.

For their first Artist Trading Card assignment of the year, second graders focused on line. I showed students three different materials/techniques they could use to create lines. The first station had different types of paper and edger scissors that students could use to make a line collage.

The second station had lined paper, pencils and Sharpies to make a line design or pattern.

The third station had ink, toothpicks, q-tips and calligraphy pens to experiment with creating lines with different tools.

The fourth station had colored glue. Students had a blast with this one, although a lot of the designs ended up being more about color and shape, but sometimes that’s what happens when students experiment!

Students finished creating a name design for their folder. I laminated each one and then attached it to the front of the folder and labeled the top right corner with a colored piece of tape (to show what table they sit at) and their class.

I give each table a folder of idea pages of different fonts to use as they work.

 

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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?

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This year, I’m introducing ATCs to 2nd, 3rd and 4th graders. I’m starting the year by giving students a couple of assignments. My hope is that these assignments will encourage them experiment more throughout the year and make cards that are more thoughtful and “complete” when they are given choice time.

2nd Graders: Oops! Card

For this lesson, I read the book Beautiful Oops!, by Barney Saltzberg. I talked with students about what choices an artist has when he/she makes a “mistake.” Next, I showed students a few Daily Monster videos and challenged them to turn an “oops” into something new… something scary, or friendly, or beautiful, or funny, or… just about anything they could think of! Students started by transforming their oops with pencil and tracing with Sharpie. Then, they added a background and colored in their ATC.

3rd Graders: Sky Color

For this lesson, I read the book Sky Color, by Peter Reynolds. We discussed that the sky is not always blue and then I demonstrated a few watercolor techniques… painting wet on wet, wax/oil watercolor resist, sprinkling salt, and blotting with a sponge brush, q-tip, paper towel, or bubble wrap. Then students set to work creating an ATC of a type of weather or time of day.

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4th Graders: Abstract Dot Composition

For this lesson, I read the book The Dot, by Peter Reynolds and discussed how students might “make their mark.” After showing abstract spot and dot artworks by Wassily Kandinsky and Yayoi Kusama, students were challenged to create an abstract composition made entirely of dots. Students could choose to use Sharpies, markers, crayons, watercolors, or a combination of materials. **For this lesson, I also showed examples of this lesson from Mrs. Knight’s Smartest Artists.

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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.

Yesterday I went to visit The Magical World of Art (the school where I did my student teaching). It was great visiting and seeing all of the exciting things happening! I can’t believe that it’s been seven years since I worked there! Here’s what students were up to…

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1st graders were painting colorful line landscapes. They had already painted their landscape with black lines and tempera paint. When I visited, they were making edits and adding details with Playcolor Tempera Paint Sticks*. I have never seen these before. They looked like a lot of fun! I’m going to order some and try them out with my students.

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In The Magical World of Art, Mr. D talks a lot about Habits of Mind. He has created a character for each of the 8 Studio Habits of Mind. These kid-friendly characters help students learn how to think about art and express their ideas using age-appropriate art vocabulary. Throughout the year, students can earn habit of mind badges. In order to earn one, another student must nominate you. Here, the Super Storyteller telling his story to the class, “The sun rolled on the ground and made the mountains yellow. And there was cotton candy in the sky.” Does it get any better than that??

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2nd graders reviewed what it means to be an architect and some basic architectural forms. In their sketchbook, students sketched their Dream House or Dream School.

4th graders talked about abstract art. First, Mr. D read My Name is Georgia: A Portrait, by Jeanette Winter. Then students went outside and zoomed in on what they saw in nature. Students drew close-up sketches of leaves, trees, and rocks.

*Here is a review of the paint sticks on The Artful Parent.

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This year my Kindergarten & 1st grade students are using sketchbooks (last year I only did them with Ks). Kindergarteners have yellow sketchbooks and 1st graders have red ones. I have tried making and using sketchbooks in various ways over the years, and I think I’ve discovered the perfect book!

It is SO easy to make these and they work great. I have a student teacher this year and she helped me make all 200 (!) books. Thanks, Ms. G! I’ve found that making the books ahead of time ends up working better than having them bind them themselves. That way they can spend more time using them. 🙂

This year, I will also be giving students a few sketchbook assignments. I want them to learn that artists use sketchbooks in a variety of ways–to plan, to practice, to observe, to take notes, etc. Other times, students will be able to choose what to draw in their books.

Last year some students made 2-3 drawings and some students filled up their entire books. This year, my goal is that more students use their sketchbooks more often.

Steps:

  1. Cut covers. (1 piece of colored construction paper 6″x18″)
  2. Cut pages (5 pieces of 6″x18″ white drawing paper)
  3. Fold cover and pages in half.
  4. Staple.
  5. Bind with a piece of duct tape.
  6. Add a label with each student’s name and class.
  7. Label student’s table (put a circle around homeroom) with matching color. This also reminds students what table they sit at and helps them find their books more independently later on.

*Update: I just bought this stapler for another book project. It is so easy to use and am going to use it for making sketchbooks next year (or for those students who fill up their books this year and need a second one!)