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As a follow up on my recent post, Managing Materials: Watercolors, I wanted to share one way I use up old watercolors in my room… by making painted paper!

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When watercolors run low, I replace them, but usually there is a little bit of paint left over in the paint pans. So I use them up and create “painted paper” that students can then use when they make collages or ATCs.

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I keep a box of “throw away” drawings… those “mostly-empty-pieces-of-paper-that-a-kid-spends-10-minutes-drawing-on-and-then-insists-that-it’s-“bad”-and-that-they-need-a-new-paper” drawings. The ones that usually end up in the garbage/recycling bin. I am usually able to convince students to erase a “mistake,” turn it into something new, or use the back of the page. But, sometimes the student has already tried alternatives and is getting frustrated because nothing seems to be working. Sometimes I agree with the student–sometimes it’s better to start fresh. So I keep the unfinished papers and put them in a box. I also add my incomplete teacher samples (I teach 5 sections of each grade level, so some times I end up with A LOT of teacher samples) and work that gets left behind at the end of the year (or work that gets left behind when a student moves and forgets to tell me).

Then I color all of the white parts of the page (using crayon, oil pastels, texture plates, and those almost-empty watercolors). After I have a bunch of painted papers, I cut them up into smaller pieces and add them to the “painted paper” box.

It is so gratifying when students reuse those almost-thrown-out pieces of paper and create something complete new with them.

How to you reuse/repurpose materials in the art room? What creative solutions do you have for managing supplies and minimizing costs?

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The week before vacation and all through my class, students… have been making Artist Trading Cards!

The week before vacation is usually unpredictable. Some students go on vacation early, or, during this time of year, students are often absent because they’re sick. Because of this, I put most projects on “hold” and started calling this week “ATC week.” (Kindergartners and first graders worked on completing unfinished work so that they can have more 1:1 help and so that we can start new projects when we get back from the break. When kindergartners and 1st graders were finished with all their unfinished work, they had the option of drawing in their sketchbook, or making a “free choice” collage or painting.)

When my second, third and fourth graders came to class, I told them the plan and showed them my ATC Idea Binder. It has samples of cards organized by media–drawing, collage, painting and mixed-media. We spent five minutes looking through the binder and discussing, “What makes a good ATC?”

Then students got to choose where to sit based on media. I had students “vote” what material they were most interested in using (by raising their hand) and then set up the stations based on popularity. In some classes, drawing was most popular, in others collage or painting was more popular, and in some it was split pretty evenly.

Students enjoyed the freedom of choosing their seats and materials, moving from station to station, and working with other students in the class. It was a great way to transition into break and I’m so proud with the ownership students took over coming up with and implementing their own ideas. Check out some of the results…

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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.

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For the past few years, I’ve taught a “warm place” and “cool place” collage lesson as a warm up (ha!) to an expressive self-portrait lesson. I use it as a pre-assessment to gage student’s cutting and gluing skills. When I first started teaching this lesson, students created two collages on this handout.

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While the handout helped students easily identify warm and cool colors, the worksheet didn’t foster much creativity or expressiveness. So I did away with the worksheet and had students create two small collages–one of a warm place and one of a cool place. Students choose one type of place to create first and I split them up by colors (3 tables of warm colors and 3 tables of cool colors).

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The prompt helped students think more creatively, and they loved sitting in different seats, but I realized that students knew the warm and cool colors after creating just one collage and it was difficult to manage the space when students were at different spots in the creative process (some were working on their first collage while others were starting their second and moving to a new seat).

So I decided to increase the size and let them focus on one idea.

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Since I started using sketchbooks with my first graders this year, I wondered if sketching their idea first would help students plan their shapes and colors better. Take a look at the results…

 

How do you use sketchbooks in your classroom?

Kindergarteners started the year with a few collage assignments…

1. Black & White Composition: I explained that a collage is a picture made out of paper and students looked at black and white abstract paintings by Franz Klein and Cecil Touchon. Then students learned how to rip paper into different sizes, compose their picture and glue down their shapes.

2. Primary Colors: We reviewed how to make a collage by ripping paper, composing an image, and gluing pieces together. We watched the video Three Primary Colors, by OK Go, and I showed students a few artworks that used only primary colors. Then students created their own pictures using primary colors. They got to choose if they wanted to work realistically or abstract.

3. Secondary Colors: On day three, we followed the same routine as day one and two. After watching Three Primary Colors again and  looking at artworks made with secondary colors, students created their own collage using secondary colors.

 

 

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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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“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…