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Another colleague taught this lesson when I student taught. I have taught it a few times over the years, and am always impressed with students’ creativity. It’s a fun lesson with a lot of possibilities and allows students to bring humor into their work.

I introduce the lesson by having students close their eyes and listen to me read a few names from the list and try to imagine a picture of what they hear in their head. Then, students open their eyes and I tell them that the names I read were real bird names. I defined the word pun and challenge students to create a visual pun by drawing one of the birds the way it might look based on it’s name.

I photocopied a list of bird names for each table and cut it into three strips (so students could share easily). Students went to their seats and created a sketch of one of the birds form the list. Some students made one sketch; some made many. Then, students traced a 1″ boarder onto a piece of 12″x18″ paper paper using a cardboard template, enlarged their drawing and traced it with permanent marker. (Tracing with Sharpie was optional.) Students were also required to draw a real or imaginary background to help describe their bird. Next, I showed students how to blend colors. Students had a choice of using oil pastels, crayons, colored pencils, or a combination of materials to color their picture. Students really enjoy this lesson and I love seeing all of the different results!

How do you include humor in your classroom?

 

 

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One of the things that makes New England so special is fall. I love the harvest season and have been working on 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.) As part of this curriculum, fourth graders observe and paint local leaves.

For homework, students were assigned to collect and bring in a leaf that had 3-4 colors in it. Students found the most beautiful leaves!  When students came to class, I showed them a PowerPoint about Georgia O’Keeffe and the leaf paintings that she created on her trips to Lake George. Then students had to observe their own leave and write down some of the facts they noticed about it–including colors, shapes and types of margins and veins. Students also planned their composition (square or vertical) by sketching their leaf. After class, I pressed each student’s leaf under a stack of magazines for two days and then laminated them. (I used stickies to mark each group of leaves so that I didn’t get them mixed up!) Next, they enlarged their leaf onto a 12″x12″ or 6″x12″ piece of drawing paper and then traced their lines with a thin Sharpie.

After carefully drawing their leaf, students began painting. I reminded them to reference the color wheel they made prior to the assignment and to try and match the size of their brush to the space they were trying to paint (small brushes for small spaces and larger brushes for larger spaces).

Students worked so hard on these paintings! I love the variety of ways students chose to paint their backgrounds.

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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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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.

My first day assignment is pretty simple, but I love it because it helps me learn (and remember) students’ names, which is crucial for building relationships.

The lesson also gives me a general idea of my students’ drawing skills and creativity. With my K students, I wrote their name in block letters ahead of time and they colored them in. As students get older, I add more challenges–1st graders learn to write their own name in block or bubble letters, 2nd graders “make it artistic”, and 3rd and 4th graders are encouraged to design their own font and include an image of something they like.

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4th Graders are literally printing up a STORM in art class! 🙂 After drawing and carving a spring-time image, students printed their picture two ways. First they printed with a water/marker technique.

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After the prints dried, students experimented by printing a layer of black ink on top of their image.

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The fourth graders have finished creating their clay spoons, so we took a little time during class today to reflect on the process:

1. Explain what a symbol is in your own words.

S: Something that represents someone or something.

L: Something that represents your favorite hobby.

2. What symbols did you include on your spoon?

F: A basketball, a football, and a monkey

Sh: A neuron, a fish, a bowl of rice, and a book

B: A snowman, a smiling face (to represent that I like comedy), an ambered colored book (to represent my favorite history book)

T (4S): Lollipop, paintball pellet, ipad

B (4S): I included a lego brick, a marker, scientific beaker, a piece of quantum foam

G(4S): I have a cupcake, an Iviva shopping bag, a music note, and a soccer ball.

H (4S): Belgian flag, a tiger, a basketball, a soccer ball, and skis.

A (4S): A music note, a Hersey’s Kiss, a turtle, and theatre masks.

D (4Ge): A paintbrush and an art palette, an ice skate, a tiger, and an ice cream cone.

T (4Ge): A watercolor case and brush, a cupcake, and a math equation.

A (4Ge): A soccer ball, a dog’s paw print, and a sun.

3. What is one thing you learned about the clay process?

N: There are lots of steps. One of them is shaping the clay.

K: I learned that when you want to make a bowl or something round, you can make a pinch pot first.

M: You have to be patient and let the clay dry before you glaze it.

D (4S): Clay is messy.

S (4S): When you don’t want your clay to dry, put it in a plastic bag.

G (4S): You need to smooth the clay, so that when you paint it it looks nice.

4. What is one thing you learned about glazing?

Na: If you want the glaze to be dark (without white spots), use three layers of glaze.

E: Most of the time the colors look different after they come out of the kiln (because the glaze melts).

T (4S): The chemicals get heated by the kiln and change.

A (4Ge): You don’t put glaze on the bottom of the spoon. Because otherwise it will stick when you put it in the kiln.

5. Imagine your friend wants to make a clay spoon. What tips/advice would you give him/her?

J: Don’t be surprise if your glaze looks different because after it goes in the kiln it might change colors.

V: Paint three layers (or more) of glaze so the colors show up better.

A: Look at the samples to match the glaze colors you want.

G (4S): Smooth your clay so you don’t see any cracks.

D (4S): Don’t glaze the bottom of your spoon, otherwise it will get stuck to the kiln.

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“An End of a Sunny Day”

Fourth graders created abstract collages after looking at Matisse’s cut outs. Students worked on this project for two days and practiced giving feedback. Without knowing what the collage was about, students guessed a partner’s topic or idea. If the person couldn’t guess, the artist would tell the idea and then the guesser would give one or two suggested for what could change to make the idea a little easier to guess.

Over Thanksgiving I went to see Henri Matisse’s Cut Outs at the MoMA. Inspired by the the extraordinary exhibit, and this video of the traveling show during it’s time in London, I’ve been thinking about ways to share Matisse’s story and artwork with my students. Because my fourth graders just created a series of abstract paintings, I thought this would be a good follow up lesson. Stay tuned to see what they create…