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I love giving students choices in class, because I am often inspired by their ideas and use what they create to come up with lesson ideas.

This year, I had a student who earned extra choice with me if he met his behavior goals and earned a certain number of points. He earned this special time a few times this year and on his 3rd or 4th visit with me, he decided he wanted to create a large map of San Fransisco. I was all for it and we began to draw.

A few weeks in, I decided that I wanted to do this lesson with the rest of the second grade for their final project of the year. As inspiration, I showed students a short PowerPoint with a few samples of maps and images of some of the different parts of a map.

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I also read the book My Map Book, by Sara Fanelli. Students were prompted to make a map based on a real or imaginary place. I wanted to see what would happen if students could make a map about anything.

They created a sketch and then began working on their final version. The requirements were that each map needed to include a title, pictures or symbols and words (a key or labels).

There was a wide range of responses to this prompt. After looking at student work, I’ve been reflecting on what I would change when I teach this lesson again. Some of the ideas that students came up with were really original and interesting, but some of their final pieces didn’t really look like a map–they didn’t show physical features and wouldn’t help someone navigate the area.

 

Students enjoyed the freedom to “make what they wanted,” but I think they could learn more in the process. I would definitely do a demonstration of how to draw roads and lakes and make each student create a key. This would guarantee that every students include symbols/pictures in their map. I would also talk more about fonts when creating the title. I checked out a bunch of books from the library, and would tweak the handouts/samples that I printed so students have better resources at their fingertips.

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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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To begin this lesson, Ms. Nemes read the book Rulers of the Playground, by Joseph Kuefler, about kids who imagine the playground as their own kingdom. The book features great illustrations of slides, tunnels, swings, maps, and other play equipment.

Next kindergarteners were asked, “If you could create your own kingdom, what would it look like?” and students sketched their ideas.

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After creating a sketch, students used recycled materials, paper, tape and drawing materials to create a 3D version of their kingdom. Their first step was to create a base for their kingdom by covering a piece of cardboard with paper to mimic sand, water, grass, dirt or whatever students wanted on the ground of their kingdom. Ms. Nemes demonstrated how to measure paper with pencil and then cut with scissors so that it was the right size.

Next, students transformed recycled materials into buildings, towers, trees and more! They also added details like windows, waves, and animals to make their sculpture more interesting. Students had a blast with this project and I’m so impressed with the results!

The Jewelry
“It’s a jewelry castle made out of stuff that’s been used. It had a big wave and king and queen found it. They live here.”
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Star Shooter
“It shoots every star to space and then it likes to eat something, but it shoots every second so it will shoot every star. And then it will eat again. It eats grass. And then it shoots, shoots, shoots!”
Castle
“My castle has two people. They are picking flowers. The flowers are red and yellow.”
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Rapunzel in a Tower
“I made a tower with Rapunzel in it. I put Rapunzel and a flower and a braid. I used pink tape to decorate it all pink and pretty”

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For this lesson, Ms. Nemes taught students about the game Exquisite Corpse. After showing students a few examples of this drawing game, students created their own Exquisite Monsters by drawing the head of their creature and then switching papers to draw the body and the bottom (legs, tail, tentacles, etc.).

IMG_6146On the second day, students were allowed to edit their drawing by making minor changes like adding texture, drawing extra arms, or changing the feet of their monster.

 

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After drawing with pencil, students colored their monster and then created a background using their choice of materials.

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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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?

 

 

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!

 

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“Manners do matter, but I’d prefer that she not be too sophisticated at a young age. When we’re making art, I try not to show her any techniques. If she wants to draw a purple frog with curly legs, I don’t correct her. That’s her imagination and I don’t want to damage that part of her nature.”

reblogged from: Humans of New York