Saturday, January 6, 2018

In the Art Room: Gallery of Gratitude Portraits!


After the holidays, with Valentine's Day on our minds, I like to have the kids spread a little love and cheer. I've got lots of lovey-dovey based projects in the works which I'll be sure to share. One project that really spread a whole lotta warm fuzzies was one we did a couple years ago called the Gallery of Gratitude. 
You can read all about it here. This project meant so much to the folks I work with. They were stopping in their tracks, reading the words the kids wrote about them, taking pictures, crying...it was AMAZING. We did it right before Thanksgiving to give thanks. I knew I wanted to do the project again this year...but missed the Thanksgiving deadline. So I thought it would be perfect for the winter...when we could all use some warm fuzziness. However, instead of drawing the portraits like we did previously, I decided we'd change it up a bit.
A while back, an art teacher (whose name I don't recall so I cannot give credit to -- so sorry!!) did modeling clay portraits with her kids and they were SO FUN. She shared the the kids looked at the author/illustrator Barbara Reid. Y'all have to check out Barbara's books and videos, so amazing. After watching her videos, I realized just how easy this would be for my fourth grade students. Here are the supplies we are using:

* Modeling Clay. The brand does not matter! And the stuff is CHEAP! So much cheaper than Sculpey and full of color. I bought some inexpensive variety packs from the craft store.

* Matte board. I used matte board because of the weight of the clay and I wasn't sure if it would warp cardboard. I happen to have a TON of matte board so it came in handy. I cut ours to 4" squares as I wasn't sure if the kids could do large pieces. They could have totally done it!

* Model Magic Clear Glaze. The thing is, modeling clay NEVER EVER dries as it's a combo of wax and oil. However, with a thickish layer of the clear glaze on top, it becomes pretty hard.

* HOBBY LOBBY METALLIC PLATES! Y'all! I saw these at the Hob Lobs a couple months ago and just about fainted. The perfect fancy frame, right?!

*Old school yearbooks. So we could look up the person whose portrait we are making.

* Names. These are the names of folks whose portraits we are making. We'll be doing a portrait of every person who works in our school building. 

Video demo I created for the kiddos: 
We started the project yesterday. We spoke a lot about gratitude, what it means, how to show it. Then I had the kids draw a name of a person who works at our school. I told them that if they were happy with the name they got, they could go to their seats and get started. If they didn't know the person and were interested in trading, they could remain on the floor. The kids remaining on the floor shared who they had and traded. A few kids were allowed to redraw a name if they had no clue who the person was...and I knew kids in my other classes would be happy to create that person's portrait. I did have a couple teacher's kids in the class who we all agreed should have first dibs on their parental units. Everyone was happy with who they were creating.
When I share my videos with my kids, I do not show them the entire video. Instead, I break it up into bits. For example, before we drew names, I had the kids watch the first part of the video about covering the background. Then we drew names and set to work. Thankfully, my heat was working and my art room was SUPER warm. This really helped with the manipulation of the clay. In the video, you'll notices I struggle a little because my heat was not working on the clay was super cold and hard. So crank up that heat for this lesson!
After completing the background, the kids came to the floor and we each announced which person we were creating a portrait of. That was fun and the kids were so excited. This is their last year at my school so many of them shared memories of the person whose portrait they are creating. We then watched the second phase of the video about creating a skin tone and creating the basic shape of the head, neck, ears and nose.
I will say this, a couple of kids made their head shapes super small. So I had those who "got it" go around and help make the heads a little bigger. For my next class, I'm going to have a head shape created out of paper and request that the kids place their clay on top and stretch it to that size...I think this will help make the heads bigger and more consistent in size.
I made sure to write down whose portrait was spoken for so that I could keep track of who we were creating and who still needed a portrait made. We might end up having a handful of extra teachers and staff...and I'll put my early finishers on those.
Here is my teacher example! I'll be certain to share our progress with y'all!
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7 comments:

  1. Love this!!!!! But it is too time consuming for my fast schedule.

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  2. Awesome video! Thanks for sharing! It was so helpful to see how you broke this project down step by step!

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  3. Love this! Cant wait to try it with my kids!

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  4. Holly Benjamin1/26/2018

    Question: First of all, adorable and special. At my school we have about 30 staff members and each grade level has about 50 students. Did you choose one grade level? How did you handle the teacher ratio to student ratio when having them create as I will have more students than staff members?

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    Replies
    1. Hey Holly, I've thought about this question too and I am thinking they could choose a staff member's name from the basket or a family member.

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