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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. ūüôā

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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. ūüôā

 

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. ūüôā

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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!

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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.