|Completed kindergarten masterpieces. That's right, I said kindergarten. The under-6 set is knockin' it outta the park, er, art room so far this year and I couldn't be more thrilled.|
What I'm about to present to you right here is one Big Fat Hairy kindergarten unit on line. And color. Oh, and shape, sculpture and good craftsmanship, i.e. how-not-to-drive-the-art-teacher-crazy(-er)-by-not-grinding-your-paintbrush-into-the-paper. Because she no like-y. And, in my art room, keeping me sane-ish is at the top of my Learning Targets. Which is way harder than you could ever imagine. Just ask the kids.
|Do you recall those wild and wacky paintings created on the first days of school in this post? Those large paintings have come in very handy as backdrops for our displays as you can see here.|
Without getting into all of that, let's chat about the aforementioned Line Unit, shall we? I'm not gonna lie, I do this same ole project with kindergarten at the beginning of every year. Which is unusual for me because with all the other grade levels, I love to change things up. Not so with kinder'town for a coupla reasons: A. they love it; B. it covers a whole batch o' skills/techniques/vocabulary/routines and C. let's be honest, coming up with projects that the little ones can master is not my forte. So when I find something that works, I stick with it.
So on our very first day of art, after introducing ourselves to one another and an abbreviated discussion of rules and consequences (because, after all, these kids are five. They still have baby fluff, suck their thumbs and wet their pants routinely. Rules and consequences mean nada. A wicked stare and a "we don't do that in kindergarten" usually does the trick), I like to dive head first into the art-making swimmin' hole. Which means we create our very first sculpture.
Now if you're an old warhorse at this art teacher game, this lesson is nothing new to you. You might wanna skip on down to the bottom where I discuss such things as pinwheel portrait painting and bottomless basket weaving (don't worry newbies, they'll be gone a while. I don't even know what that stuff is!). For the rest of ya, lemme tell you how I go about teaching this line sculpture lesson:
- First of all, we have a little chat about the difference between flat two-dimensional artwork and sculptures. After looking at some images of sculptures, we chat about the ones we are familiar with (ole Lady Liberty almost always comes up) and discuss how a sculpture is something we can see (rotating body at waist for emphasis) all...the way...around.
- I then tell 'em that we are going to create a sculpture with a bunch of straight lines (strips of paper cut 1" X 9" but sizes can vary). I ask them how to make a flat piece of paper pop out of their sculpture base (aka the bottom paper) to which they usually answer "glue!" It's at this point that I tell 'em that if they want their sculpture to stand, just like us, it must have feet.
- I demonstrate creating a small fold at the ends of the strip of paper thus creating feet. It's there that glue is applied (to which the strip of paper always responds, "oohh, that tickles my feet! Ohhh, that glue is soo cold!" Yes, the paper talks to us. It's kindergarten, people. They eat this stuff up). Once the glue is applied, I show the kids how to hold the paper in place on the base for about 10 seconds.
- From there, I demonstrate adding more paper strips to the sculpture base on top, below, behind or beside the first strip. Then I turn the kids loose on their on sculptures.
- The following art class, I introduce more lines. I demonstrate folding a zigzag line, wrapping a strip of paper around my pencil to create a spiral and creating a loop de loop.
- I also chat about how lines create shapes and demonstrate creating a circle by gluing one end of the strip to the other. With that circle, so many other shapes can be created with a pinch. Pinch the circle once and you have a teardrop! Pinch it again and you have an ellipse! One more time, it's a triangle! Anther pinch and you have a square.
- From there, the kids go nuts on their sculptures creating lines, shapes and whatever else they can dream up.
Here! Lemme walk you through it.
On the third day of art class, I get real serious about the whole line thing. We look at each of these snake-y lines on the poster I created way back in first-year-art-teacher-land and then locate them on works of art. Any ole Kandinsky works great for this. It's at this point I introduce to the kids a lil poem I wrote some years ago about a snake named Larry that can morph his body into any line he likes. It goes a lil sumpin like this (complete with hand motions, you better believe it!):
Is a friend of mine
(creating a snake by opening the fingers of your hand, puppet style and there's your snake!)
He can make three
(hold up a three with your fingers)
Straight lines for me!
(create a vertical line with your forearm)
Diagonal and horizontal!
Any curve, he can learn
With a twist and a turn.
When he's out of his tangle
he makes a great...angle.
(created by placing your hand on your hip and pointing to your elbow)
Any line, he can make
After all, he's a snake!
After learning the Larry the Line poem, I bust out this huge cheesey carnival snake I got years ago that happens to have a little rattle in his tail. I convince the kids that he's real (they're kindergarten so they totally buy it) and maneuver him around to create a variety of lines. If the kids guess the name of the line correctly, I let them "rattle" Larry's tail. They eat it up and learn the names of lines to boot.
After that, I give a little demo on painting. If you've read this blog for five minutes, you know that when painting, I liken the bristles of the paint brush to a ballerina: It always dances on it's toes, it never scoots around on it's bottom. After I demonstrate painting each of Larry's lines, the kids go to their seats and we do a little guided painting. Meaning, I paint and they follow along.
This school year, I have my kindergarten for 45 minutes every six days (which is different than my usual 30 minute classes, twice every six days...confused yet? That makes two of us). That slightly longer block of time makes a world of a difference in that we can accomplish so much! On the fourth day of this unit, we examine Kandinsky again and this time chat about how influenced he was by music. The kids were told that they were going to be painting a nonobjective picture of lines while listening to Peter and the Wolf by Sergei Prokofiev. If you're not familiar, this piece of music introduces each character of Peter and the Wolf with a different instrument. Each character really comes to life with the music and makes for great line paintings.
On that day, the children were only given black paint. As they painted to the music, you could see them trying to capture each character in line. Once a painting was finished, I'd take it from them and hand them a new sheet of white paper. By the end of art class, each child had painted about three black and white line pictures.
The following art class, I introduced the kids to tempra cakes which you can see best a coupla photos ago. My focus was on using the art materials properly and exploration of color. I wrote about this particular painting lesson pretty extensively last year in this blog post. In that lesson, we didn't paint to music and we focused some on pattern in a follow up lesson.
Here's a collection of their finished pieces. I love how wild, bright and unique each one is, just like the artists themselves.
On the sixth and final day of this unit, the kids were introduced to Roy G. Biv and watercolor paint. Since the last lesson had just been about exploring with color and proper use of painting supplies, I really wanted to focus on the order of the colors in the rainbow. My hat helped them remember the order (even if it is missing the "B" in Roy G. Biv) as did the large rainbow I have mounted on my easel. And in case you're dying to get a rainbow hat of your own, mine is from amazon. Yes, really.
Have you read this book? I picked it up years ago at the thrift store and it's pretty cute. As you turn each page, an additional color of ribbon is added to the ribbon rainbow in the book, hence the "Magic Ribbon Book" label at the bottom.
After that chat, I demonstrate to the children how to use watercolor paints. This is an easy transition from the tempra cakes as the cleaning-your-brush-before-getting-another-color is exactly the same. We do chat about the differences between the two mediums (you know, watercolor being more translucent) and also discuss painting in Roy G. Biv order. After that demo, the kids returned to their seats with their paintings created on that third day of art class and rainbow-ize the thing. This is the first year I've added this portion to the line unit and I love the result.
And there you have it. One Big Fat Hairy line/shape/color/RoyG.Biv/sculpture/abstract Unit for the wee ones. I know these lessons are nothing new...so I'd love to hear how you approach teaching line. Also, for the sake of space, I may have not answered all of your how-you-teach-that questions, so feel free to email me or leave a comment. I may or may not get back to you. Just sayin'.