Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Elementary Installation Art

In the start of the 2013 school year, I found myself becoming bored with my own ideas. Having completed my first year of teaching, I had a year of lesson planning under my belt. As I looked the work that students created the year before, I found a large commonality among them. Most of the projects were two-dimensional and completed with a wet medium of either tempera paint or water colors. This year, I wanted to try something different. So, knowing my budget, and that I was either limited to paper or found objects, I got to work. What I came across in my research was a well known project to high school math teachers: the sierpinski triangle. A sierpinski triangle is a pyramid made up of equilateral triangles. A central triangle is removed from each triangle creating a regression of space.

The discussion and the project:
After deciding upon the sierpinski triangle installation, I knew that I would need the whole school to participate. I then faced the challenge of how to teach a concept that students grasp in high school to all levels within my elementary school. I evened the playing field so that students in every grade would learn the same information. Every grade started out with discussing the difference between items that are two-dimensional versus items that are three-dimensional. We started out pointing out items within the art room, then moved onto art.
We then discussed what installation artwork is, how it is always three-dimensional, how it is meant to transform a space, how it can go inside or outside, and how it can be temporary or permanent. We looked at exemplar artists such as Tara Donovan, Soo Sunny Park, Gerda Steiner and Jorg Lenzlinger, Azevedo, and Kusama to get an idea that installation artwork can be made out a wide variety of media, and then we got to work on installation artwork of our own.

            Soo Sunny Park
    Tara Donovan


After seeing an image of what the students were about to create, students grasped the idea that they were about to create three-dimensional art using two-dimensional paper. Each student had the opportunity to design two tetrahedrons, or triangular pyramids with four planes, using a template. Younger students in kindergarten through third grade cut out their own, while older students in fourth and fifth grade helped in the folding and gluing process. The completed triangles were then hot glued together by myself.

The final product:
            The final product is made up of 1,024 tetrahedrons. Other teachers had the opportunity to contribute as well. It is held together with mostly hot glue, but reinforced with wooden dowels and popsicle sticks. Placed in the commons area of the school, students have the opportunity to gaze upon it and search for their contribution in this school-wide installation art. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Kindergarten and 1st grade portraits!

Sometime around the 3rd week of school, I started every class on a different portrait lesson with different twists. Fifth grade worked on accurate self portraits, fourth grade did the silhouette symbolism self portrait, third grade did a crazy hair day line study self portrait (which unfortunately I did not get pictures of), and second grade did a pop-art primary color portrait.

Something that I really struggle with in first year teaching is creating lesson plans for the younger students that can both be stretched over multiple class periods and that last the whole 50 minutes. For the older students, 50 minutes is never enough, but for the younger students (whose brains run on 20 minute spans), 50 minutes always seems more like 2 hours. These two lessons lasted 2 class periods, and seemed to last the entire time!

Kindergarten Royal Self Portraits:

I first read the book "King Hugo's Huge Ego" to the classes. It is a really cute book with great illustrations that teaches a great lesson about kindness. I then gave a short demo on how to create their portraits, and talked about what a "portrait" is. We also talked a lot as a class about the different shapes of the parts of our face, and how to draw them (don't forget about the eyebrows!... kindergarteners and first graders developmentally do not think about drawing eyebrows unless you mention it!).

The students all got a crown tracer, and they were instructed to place it at the "tippy-top" of their paper. The students then drew a big letter "U" under their crown. After doing this, they could add facial features and hair (be careful to instruct students how to draw hair... I put on a hat, and talked about how my hair came down from the sides). The second lesson students used water color paints to finish their portraits. The second day I gave a demo on how to use water colors. Things to remember to tell students: Don't dig in your paint, just "tickle" it, after dipping your paintbrush in the water don't hit it on the side of the water just or it will splash everywhere, and rinse rinse rinse every time! Here are a couple!

First Grade Emotional Portraits:

First graders got a very similar lesson on what a portrait is. They also talked about the different parts of their face and the shapes that they are. Students then had a discussion about eyebrows and mouths and how they change when we show different emotions. Students had the opportunity to raise their hand, tell me an emotion (like sad, angry, happy, excited, confused, surprised). I would act out the emotion, and they would tell me how my face changed. I would then draw the different changes on the board (I had previously drawn out about 5 ovals to record the students' observations).

The first day students drew their portraits in pencil and got to choose any emotion they wanted. the second day students used water color to paint, and got the same demo with water colors as the kindergarteners. Here are a few... they came out great!

Friday, October 5, 2012

4th Grade Silhouettes

Fourth graders at SES studied portraits and types of portraits. We looked at the silhouette art and studied Kara Walker... screened of course for appropriateness. For my school having the internet so tightly blocked with pinterest, facebook, youtube, and more you would think that some of the imagery that popped up would be blocked too! Shout out to Kara Walker... you should try making some racially charged art that elementary school students can view and discuss... CHALLENGE EXTENDED.

Spotlight Kara Walker for a second. Kara Walker is a contemporar African American artist that explored race, sexuality, and violence through her work. She uses silhouettes through most of her art, cutting them out of large sheets of black paper. Her exhibits tend to be HUGE and most of her silhouettes are life-sized. Good ole Wiki states "Walker's silhouette images work to bridge unfinished folklore in the Antebellum South, raising identity and gender issues for African American women in particular." Here is some of her work:
(These are NOT the examples that I used with my students)

Anyway... we talked about symbolism in all of the fourth grade classes and how we could created symbols of ourselves. During one class period, students made a list of all of their symbols while other students had their silhouette made with the projector. While making their list, students were asked to really think about what they liked to do. If they listed football, they were asked to put multiple symbols down such as the actual football, goal posts, cleats, helmets... all could be used as symbols for themselves.

*Sidenote: kids wiggle a TON while you draw their silhouettes. Have them sit on a high stool and lean one shoulder against the board. Also have one spot on the wall for them to look and and discourage other students from getting up to stand in that spot to make the person sitting for their silhouette giggle.... it WILL happen.

The next class period we spent drawing. A short demo was given on how to overlap, and if a student needed help drawing an item, we would pull it up on the smart board and draw it from observation. The next class we outlined our drawings with permanent marker, and started painting with water colors. Specific instruction needs to be given not to outline the silhouettes, just the items INSIDE it. Kids go crazy with the outlining, and if you have thicker sharpies, it could distort the silhouettes

Our final class was spend cutting out our silhouettes and pasting them on black paper. They came out FANTASTIC. Art show material... heads up!

SES Art Club

Once a month, I have been hosting an art club for 5th and 4th grade students. The first 25 students to bring back permission slips can be a part of it. We meet for only one hour, but we have a lot of fun! September marks the first time the art club met.  The first thing that we did was a camoflage hands project. This project again has no cultural or emotional significance. We just did it to get to know one another (as I am a brand spankin' new art teacher) and have a little fun! Here is what we did...

Every student painted a simple design on a piece of paper. Then placed their hand on top of their painting, and painted it just like the part of the painting their hand was hiding. That's it! Here's a few shots of all the fun we had!


October's art club met up just yesterday! A different group of students came this time, and we created a bulletin board together in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Since our school allows students and teachers to wear pink strips in their hair, I figured it was only appropriate! I was a little concerned about how 4th and 5th grade boys would handle the task at hand, but they were really great! We started out by making large ribbons with facts about breast cancer (such as: did you know 1 out of 100 cases of breast cancer is male?). Then, they added designs to their ribbons. Because the teachers had a dress down day the very next day (all were to wear a pink shirt), the art club decided to make the bulletin board interactive. In the middle of the board it says "Who do you wear pink for?" This allows people to honor the strenth and courage of those they know that fought breast cancer. This is our final product!

The top says "Art Club Spreads Awareness"... pretty proud of those kiddos!

Square 1 Art and More!

Today I want to tell you about one of my favorite projects that I've done thus far! It has been my favorite to teach, and the most rewarding product.

5th Grade Mandalas (4th grade too)

This is a spin-off lesson from my Square 1 Art third grade mandala lesson. The 5th graders learned the same information about mandalas in different religions (Buddhist, Hindu, and Christian) and radial symmetry. After tracing the circle and pie pieces onto their paper, the students made initial tracers within one of the pie pieces.

*Sidenote to all parents everywhere: If you name your child Annalise (it's ok... it's a made-up name) and your last name is Smith, it'd be wise of you not to give her the middle name Susan. Just saying.... the child will not want to monogram anything ... ever.

While drawing initials in the pie pieces, the students had to make sure their bubble letters touched the top of pie piece, the bottom, and that the letters touched in the middle. When tracing the letters onto their artwork, the students traced it once upright, and then flipped it upside down in alternating pie pieces. This was my example. My initials are CLC and I did my initials in cursive.

When instructing students on how to color their mandala, I gave the students a lot of freedom with their color choices. Make sure all of the same letters are the same colors. For example: All of my outside C's are in purple, L's in green, and inside C's in yellow. They are allowed to color the spaces between the letters and the background any color the choose as long as it shows radial symmetry. Here are a couple finished student works.

I also taught this very same lesson to 4th graders. I do not recommend it! I probably will only teach it to 5th graders in the future!

Kindergarten Autumn Leaves:

The kindergarteners recently learned about collage just like the first graders... I tend to "re-use" my information. Just like the 1st graders, the kindergarteners learned about the art of collaging, Romare Bearden, and Henri Matisse. We read the book "Clifford's First Autumn." You never really know how complicated teaching the word "autumn" to kindergarteners can be until you have a little girl with the name Autumn in the same class.

The kindergarteners made a practice collage by drawing and cutting out shapes to both practice their shapes and get practice with their fine motor skills. The next class, they started their leaf collages. Their was a pre-drawn leaf on cardstock. The students used pre-cut tissue paper for their collages, and tried their best to "fill up ALL the white space." The next time they came to art, the students cut out their leaves (putting their name on the back again!), and added veins to their leave with toothpicks and popscicle sticks. Students learned what veins are in a leaf and looked at their own veins on the back of their hands.

This is the bulletin board I created from only one kindergarten class's leaves!

These projects makes me wince a little to use pre-drawn shapes or tracers. While getting accustomed to teaching on the elementary level, I am finding it is almost equally as important to get children working on their fine motor skills as it is to making the lessons emotionally relevant to them. Hope you enjoyed them!

Springfield Elementary Artists

After a long a grueling job search, I was hired at Springfield Elementary School! It has definitely taken a while to get into the swing of things, and I am still figuring out the development of different students on different grade levels. Here are a few of the art projects that we have worked on so far!

1st Grade "Tear Bears"

First of all... I want to go ahead and apologize for the poor quality of my pictures. All of them were taken with my phone!

So, when I first came into teaching elementary art, I decided that every art project that I planned was going to mean something to the students emotionally or mentally. Then I realized that some of my students don't have simple dexteral skills such as ripping a piece of paper. Once I realized that certain simple tasks like that could be considered hard to students, I began the tear bear lesson.

Students in first grade first learned about collage, and studied artists like Romare Bearden and Henri Matisse. They then learned to differentiate between the foreground and the background of an image. The answer "frontground" became very common! On the first day that we worked, the students ripped and glued their background. They were able to pick their own color to work with. On the second day, they worked on the bears and drew on faces. A short demo was given on ripping a circle and even if the student messes up, how to glue their bear together like a puzzle.

The students surprisingly got really into such a simple project! Even though there was an extreme struggle with ripping specific shapes (like the bear's circles), some started to name their bears, and all were very proud of their final products.

Third Grade Mandala's:

Third graders learned about the circular design of mandalas, and radial symmetry. They also learned how mandalas were and are used in different religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, and Christianity. This project was created for the Square 1 Art fundraiser where students' parents or guardians can buy objects such as mugs or phone cases with their child's artwork on it. The third graders used precut circle and "pizza slice" tracers since I do not have access to compases. They then used simple designs of their chose to fill their mandala. They were instructed to use the same colors on the same designs that they used to implement radial symmetry in their own artwork. 

Many more to come! Hope you enjoyed it!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Pinterest Project #5

My sister and I LOVE the television show How I Met Your Mother. When I saw this pin, I KNEW I had to make it!

When I thought about making it, I knew I wanted to make it for my sister's up and coming nursery. She's due at the end of April and decided NOT to find out the sex of the baby. So once again I picked out some cheap acrylic paint colors, and I picked up a canvas from Michael's. I wanted to use a font that was a little less severe for a nursery, and I transferred the words just like I do everything else... by tracing. Here's a photo of that:
Because this is for a nursery for "Baby X" (That's what my brother-in-law calls him or her) I wanted to make a ways for it to fit two sexes. So with a little ribbon and velcro.... VOILA! Here's the finished product.

DONE! Hope you enjoyed it!