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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.

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Playground
“This is a playground with a school! There is a slide and it works. It is also in the evening.”

Art Studio
“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.”

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Basketball Gym
“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!”

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Pokemon Center
“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

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Campfire
“I made a sun and a sky. I made a campfire with wood.”

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Wolf in the Forest
“Hi. I’m a wolf. I live in the forest and I eat fish and more food.”

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House
“This is a house with a dog house. And with a garden and flowers. And with people on a trampoline.”

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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.

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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.

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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!

 

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The inspiration for my line handout came from Art is Basic.

As part of our discussion on visual culture, the grad students in my Elementary Methods class at BU were challenged to create a memorial or monument dedicated to someone or something important to them.

To begin the conversation, I showed students a few videos about the current debate over the removal of confederate monuments and a public art monument initiative in Philadelphia. The first videos I showed were from a lesson created by The Choices Program at Brown University called History in Dispute: Charlottesville and Confederate Monuments. I showed my students three of the videos and they answered a question about the content of each video after each one was over. Next, I showed students a six-minute video from the PBS New Hour about a city-wide public art project in Philadelphia called Monumental Lab.

I also showed students monuments created by contemporary artists including: Free at Last, by Sergio Castillo, Monument in Trafalgar Square, by Rachel Whiteread, Pedestal for Strangers and Pedestal for a Little Girl, by Miranda July and Public Figures by Do-Ho Suh.

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Then I taught students how to create a pop-up box out of oak tag (inspired by my Not-a-Box lesson) and students brainstormed ideas for what they would create. My goal was to show my grad students how a lesson could be adapted for different age groups. This is a lesson I think would be amazing to teach middle school students right now.

After creating their monuments, my students also wrote a brief artist statement about their work. Here are a few pictures of their finished monuments…

 

 

Additional Links & Resources:

What the Removal of New Orleans’s White Supremacist Monuments Means to My Students

Spark Lab: Design Your Own Monument

Teaching for Big Ideas: Art Education for the 21st Century

After teaching the same kindergarten collage unit for a few years, I decided to tweak a few things…

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1. Black & White Composition: I read the first few pages of the book Matisse’s Garden and discussed a few different things that inspire artists. I explained what a collage is and taught students how to rip paper into smaller pieces and attach it to a background paper using dots of glue. Then students created their own collage inspired by a person, place or animal.

2. Primary Colors: This year, for my primary color collage lesson, I used the post Primary Color Mixed-Media Exploration as inspiration. First, I read a little more of Matisse’s Garden and showed the video Three Primary Colors, by OK Go. After identifying the primary colors, students experimented with different types of red, yellow and blue paper, tape, crayons and colored pencils to create an image.

3. Secondary Colors: For the third lesson, I read the book Little Blue and Little Yellow and taught students about all of the different painting materials–paint, water cups, brushes, sponges and mixing trays. Then, students worked with a partner to mix the three secondary colors and paint them on a piece of white paper. The next day, I read the book Henri’s Scissors and taught students how to use scissors. I cut up the painted paper they had made and students used it, along with red, yellow and blue construction paper to make a collage of their choice.

This year, I want to give first graders a few more sketchbook assignments so that they can learn different ways to use their sketchbook. For this lesson, I read the book Ten Black Dots, by Donald Crews. The book shows various ideas for transforming a dot into something different. After reading the book, first graders sketched what they wanted to turn a dot (or many dots!) into.

Next, students used their sketch as inspiration for a collage. After making a plan in their sketchbook, students used paper to create the shapes they saw in their sketch.

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I love this collage made by four of my first grade students! It was made over a few class periods when students were done with their assignment work and had “choice time.” Students practiced valuable skills while working together. First, they had to agree on which players to include. Later they had to agree (or compromise) when choosing colors for the background. Different students took on different jobs when it came to making each part of the player’s outfits. They used an iPad to research what each jersey should look like and talked to each other throughout the process to create details like grassy texture (using edger scissors and markers), cleats and team flags. The process wasn’t always easy, and I’m so proud of how my students worked together to solve each problem. After finishing their work, my obvious question was, “Who gets to take it home?” After talking to each other, they decided that the fair solution was to give it to me! I’m excited to display this in my room next year, but also wanted them to have a memory of the process, so I took a picture of their work and printed a color copy of the image for each student. 🙂

I really liked taking Making Faces with Lynn Whippe. The two week format was a lot to absorb, so I’m planning to rewatch the videos over the summer and make some more faces in order to focus in on how to use some of these ideas with students next year. I do know that I will definitely be teaching one or two Portrait ATC assignments inspired by this course! Stay tuned. 🙂

 

I have enjoyed many of the Making Faces prompts so far. They are introducing me to new ways of sequencing steps. Lesson three is called “Facing Backwards” and provides multiple prompts for creating backgrounds and layering faces on top of them. Lesson four is all about collaging. Some of these are made by cutting up and rearranging other portraits that I didn’t like as much. I’m really excited to try something similar with some of my classes next year. I’m not sure if all of these are “done” yet, but I’ve really enjoyed the process so far which is the whole point. 🙂

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Author and illustrator Bryan Collier came to visit this week! He read some of his award-winning picture books, showed students some of his original pieces of art and answered lots of questions!

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I love his book Uptown and have used it as inspiration for a fifth grade lesson in the past, but didn’t think the quality of the finished work was that sophisticated. There were some interesting components, but I think the content of the lesson could be stronger. I’m a very reflective teacher, and like to rework lessons until I feel like I’ve gotten something good out of them, so having Mr. Collier back for a visit was exactly the inspiration I needed to revisit this idea. Stay tuned!