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After practicing making all different types of lines, I challenged kindergarteners to develop strong printmaking and coloring skills by making colorful Mandala Line Prints.

First, k’s reviewed different types of lines and drew them onto a triangle piece of Styrofoam using a magic marker. Next, they carved their lines using a wooden carving tool.

At the beginning of the next class, I demonstrated how to print with the ink. Students watched how to use the rollers to put ink onto the Styrofoam, line up their triangle on their paper (so the long side touched the edge) and then print their design with a clean roller. K’s watched as the ink came off the Styrofoam and onto the paper and learned that each time they wanted to print, they needed to reink their piece of Styrofoam.

After the demo, students who were ready to go began printing. I put out piles of paper on the rug and set up the tables in my room so that there were different ink colors at each table. Students chose which table they wanted to go to to do their printing. Each student printed their triangle into their paper four times.

Each student made two “final prints” so that they could try out different colored inks on different colored papers. If a student didn’t use enough ink or didn’t press hard enough with the roller, their print didn’t show up. When this happened, I had students reink their triangle and try printing on the back of their paper.

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The last step was to color in their lines with colored pencils. I talk about choosing colors that are different then their ink color so that their lines “stand out.” Sometimes I hold up their papers from across the room and ask them if they can still see their colors… and sometimes they ask a friend to hold up their work while they walk across the room to check out their work from “far away.” ūüôā

 

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Maria Sibylla Merian, Metamorphosis of a Butterfly, 1705

As inspiration for this lesson, Ms. Nemes showed first graders botanical illustrations by Maria Sibylla Merian, “one of the first naturalists to observe insects directly.”

Then students practiced being scientists and artists by observing an insect of their choice carefully. Students could choose to study: an insect preserved in resin, a non-fiction book about an insect or a scientific drawing. Each student created a sketch, labeled their drawing and wrote one sentence describing something interesting they noticed about their insect.

Next, students were challenged to translate (and simplify) their complex drawing into a collagraph using mixed-media materials. Students shopped for foam, wire, mesh, oak tag, buttons and string at the “art store” and then cut and arranged the materials to create their collagraph. The last step before printing was to paint a thin layer of mod podge over their collage.

Next, students learned how to print their collagrpah using ink. Each student painted their collagraph with ink and then used the printing press to create 3 copies of their image. After they printed, students added details to their prints using oil pastels and colored pencils.

After learning about blind contour and contour drawing, students used their drawing skills to create an abstract self-portrait. Ms. Nemes taught students about abstract art and students discussed some of the reasons an artist might choose to make something abstract. After looking at images of abstract portraits as a group, students brainstormed ideas for their own Abstract Feeling Self-Portrait. During this unit, students thought about what colors, lines, shapes and features would describe their feeling best. I am so impressed with all of the portraits that students created!

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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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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?

I teach a “Not-a-Box” project to my 2nd graders, so I was super excited when one of my colleagues shared this “Not-a-Stick” lesson, inspired by the book¬†Not a Stick, by¬†Antoinette Portis. This lesson is fun, engaging and students come up with a huge variety of creative solutions. Also it only takes about 2-3 classes. Stay tuned for some finished samples!