Showing posts with label art camp. Show all posts
Showing posts with label art camp. Show all posts

Monday, May 19, 2014

In the Art Room: Kindergarten Clay Butterflies

Ya'll. I got this genius idea about a month and a half ago that all 400+ of my students should be working with clay. At the same time. And while this made for easy set up/clean up (read: We're 5 minutes late, ya'll -- Stop, Drop and Get Out! The next class is using the same thing!), all that clay left my room covered in a lovely layer of dust. Which, if you are an art teacher then you know, means two things:

1. The kids will figure skate across your dust-covered floor much to your pretend dismay (because, let's face it, you do the same thing when they're not in the room).

2. The kids will leave a path of dust covered foot prints leading a slightly disgruntled custodian to your door (ha, I totally kid as I have the most understanding custodial buddies around). 
Despite the dust-bowl-esque appearance of the art room, I love teaching clay as much as the kids do working with it. Seeing what creations they come up with is always so much fun. Howevers, with the wee ones in kindergarten-town, I like to start with the basics of hand building construction (slab, coil, sphere) in a pretty structured way.

Which leads me to this here Clay Butterfly project. If you're new to teaching clay or you simply need a quick project that teaches the basics of clay construction in a fool-proof-ish kind of way then this big bad butterfly is the thing for you. Here's what you'll need:
  • Low Fire Clay (I use cone 06)
  • No kiln to fire the clay? No worries. Try this out with air dry clay or Sculptey, available at craft stores.
  • Skewer
  • Toothbrush and cup of water
  • Texture for the butterfly. We use a lot of lace, doilies and placemats in my art room.
  • A butterfly template, optional
  • Crayons
  • Watercolor paint
 When I introduce clay, I have the kids gather around a table and do a demo from start to finish. Then I run through the entire thing again, this time having them repeat the directions after me. I thought I'd share with ya'll the start-to-finish routine...but don't worry, I won't make you repeat it back.

On auto-repeat, I tell the kids: You can make ANYTHING outta clay as long as you can make a Slab, a Coil and Sphere. With those three things, anything is possible. First, I have 'em make a slab.

1. Begin by squishing the clay as hard as you can between your two hands. Then thump it down onto your textured surface (this thumping-down business is always a hit, no matter what the age) and begin pounding the daylights outta that clay. Now, you're gonna have to remind the kids that the goal is not to punch they clay too much, it's not your brother after all. The end result should be a clay that is a consistent cookie thickness.
 Sometimes you can pound and pound that clay and it just won't get wide enough. So I tell the kids to pound their clay at a diagonal to help the clay stretch and become the desired width.
 The end result should have the texture of your pounding and be consistently cookie thick.
 2. Peal that clay off of your texture like a Fruit Roll-Up. I have to tell the kids that otherwise they'll simply dig at it with their fingernails. If you show them how to pull the clay and the texture away from each other, it's much easier. Also, isn't that texture rad? Clay is so receptive to texture that I'm always showing kids ways to incorporate that into their clay piece. Lace is my personal fave.
3. Once the clay has been pealed off of the texture, have the kids trace a butterfly template (not shown, duh). Or, if you are a Template Hater, don't. I use templates for this activity as the focus is on working with clay. If I can remove the frustration of drawing and redrawing a butterfly onto clay, them Ima gonna do it. When the kids cut into the clay, show them how to properly use that skewer stick. It should stand up vertically, like a solider. If the kids hold it like a pencil, they either just saw through the clay (leaving behind a chewed up looking edge) or don't cut all the way through. 
3. Smooth out those clay boogers. I know those rough edges aren't sharp now...but just you wait until you run your hand over that bad boy after a good bisque firing (that's a first fire for you first timers). I've sliced my hand up on such a surface. I always emphasize running a finger over the edges to smooth 'em.
4. Once they've gotten that slab butterfly body made, I teach 'em how to make a coil. For them, that's old hat. That's like the very first thing all kids make outta clay: a snake! Using my extra clay, I roll out a coil that is as long as the center of the butterfly. If I make it too long, I cut it to size with my skewer.

5. Now, I don't use a scoring tool, I use a toothbrush. I do use the terminology "slip and score" and explain to them that it's the glue that binds it all together. Without it, your clay project is sure to fall apart and you'll be so super sad. Don't let it happen to you.

 6. Stick that coil to the slab. In my demos, we chatted for a hot minute about the three parts of the butterflies body and used our pinching fingers to create them.
 7. Using spheres, we created eyes for our butterfly. Again, we toothbrushes because we didn't want our eyes to fall off. It totes sucks when that happens. Eyelashes (because all butterflies have 'em, right?) and mouthes were added along with anything else the kinderkiddos might imagine.
8.  When they brought their finished pieces to me, I wrote their names on the back and stuck two holes in the head for antennae and a hole in each wing for hanging. You might not want to do this in front of the children, especially if you fail to tell 'em what you're doing as stabbing their clay project proves to be a traumatic experience for some...not that I've ever done it or anything. Ahem.
Now, bisque or first firing these guys was cake because I could just stack 'em up on my kiln shelves. But I knew that glaze firing would involve many rounds of loading and unloading the kiln because of the flat and wide nature of the pieces (in case I'm not speaking your language: you cannot stack glazed pieces in the kiln as they'll stick together once fired). If you recall from earlier in this here post I mentioned that EVERYONE in the UNIVERSE was making something out of clay so glaze firing all of these really would have slowed my firing to a snail's pace. Therefore, I knew I had to find a glazing alternative.
I gave the kids watercolor paint and we had a chat about crayon resist. It helped that we'd dabbled in this in a previous lesson so the kids kinda got the concept. I told 'em that bright colors worked the best and that coloring super hard was the key to making this work. I likened it to putting a raincoat on the butterfly so that when it got wet with the paint, the paint would roll right off the rain coat. We also chatted about the symmetrical nature of a butterfly's design which inspired some kids. For others, they either weren't interested in that or their texture pattern made it too difficult to create a symmetrical design.
Once the crayon coloring business was through, the kids were free to paint. I asked them to pick one color (my friend above chose not to but the end result is lovely) and really like really had to stress painting away the white spots. The key is to have a moppy wet brush and to paint slow enough for the paint to sink into the crevices. Once complete, I slapped some ModPodge on 'em and my fourth grade morning helpers added the hanger. I added a dot of hot glue inside each opening at the top, inserted the antennae and, viola! Kindergarten Clay Butterfly!

What are some of your fave kindergarten clay projects? I'd love to hear, ya'll!





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Monday, July 9, 2012

In the Art Room: Weaving, The Final Chapter

When weaving with children, you might be surprised to find that the boys enjoy this activity the most...as long as you don't call the completed weaving a purse, that is. 
 As I wrap up this weaving mini-series, I thought I'd leave you with the following: a little bibliography, weaving finishing touches and my secret to getting these pouches completed without taking half of the school year. In case you missed, here is Weaving, Part 1: Getting Started; Part 2: Learning to Weave; Part 3: Removing the Weaving and Part 4: Weaving the Cord.
My Weaving Bible: You Can Weave! By the amazing Kathleen Monaghan.
 This week, I'm currently at the world's best arts professional development: Tennessee Arts Academy. Several years ago, the author of You Can Weave!, Kathleen Monaghan, was a presenter and she was incredible. Her book is full of clearly written and photographed projects, tips and tricks. I can't recommend it enough.
The ole standby: Goat in a Rug
 I don't just weave with fourth grade, I begin weaving with first grade. You can see their completed weavings here. And the book I use to introduce them to the world of weaving is this one, Goat in a Rug. It's told from the perspective of the goat whose mohair is used by the Native American, Glenmae, to create a rug. It's the perfect balance of factual and funny.
Sometimes the best books are the ones found in the dollar bin, like this one, Grandmother's Dreamcatcher.
 With my second grade, we create quasi dream catchers. The kids love this book as they sympathize with with the main character who is cursed with bad dreams. The author does an excellent job of explaining the origin of the dreamcather and it's believed powers.
This is like the older kids' version of The Goat in the Rug: Weaving a Rainbow.
 This book is an excellent one in that it re-explains to the kids the process of creating wool yarn. This year, we had fun reading this book and dying our own wool yarn with Kool-Aid ice cubes during our science experiment time.
 Now, let's talk weaving finishing touches: Getting rid of that pesky warp tail. To do this, the kids will need a needle (I don't recommend this kind but it's all I had on hand. My kids use 3" plastic or metal needles) and a small folded piece of paper for a needle threader.
 We call the small folded paper the "hot dog bun" and the thread the "hot dog". Put the hot dog in the bun and slide the bun into the eye of the needle.
 Now pull the hot dog bun off of the hot dog thread and, viola!, you have just threaded a needle. No wetting the end of the thread and spreading nasty germs required.
 Now weave your needle in and out of your woven pouch until you run out of warp thread. Pull needle off and you're done. No knotting needed.
 For button sewing, I usually have a sewing circle. The kids pull their chairs up and we sew the buttons on step by step. We begin by threading and knotting our needle. Find a good place on the pouch to pull the needle through like you see in the above photo.
 Slide your button down the needle and thread. Sew a couple of stitches to secure the button. By the way, you'll notice that in the photos of the kids pouches, we use pony beads instead of buttons.
 Now sew a double knot in the back. To create a button hole, just separate the weft threads on the flap and force the button through.
 You can have the kids go about sewing the cord two ways, on the side, like I have done, or across. I began by threading and knotting my needle and pulling the needle through the cord, as shown above.
 Secure the cord onto the pouch with a couple of stitches. If you are sewing the cord across, you'll have a little more sewing to do.

 I will say that the end of this year sneaked up on me and I was in a real bind. The kids did not have time to do the sewing themselves as they had done in the past. Thankfully, I had some very kind parents that took the sewing task on themselves. If you don't have a Mom Army, you need to get one. They have been an incredible source of support in my art room.

Now, just how do we manage to get these pouches woven in 30 minute art classes? After I am confident that the kids understand how to weave, I let them take their weavings home. That's right, they leave my room with a giant zip lock bag with their loom, needle, twenty strands of yarn and a note home that reads something along these lines:

Dear Fourth Grade Students and Guardians, I would not be sending this weaving kit home with you if I did not believe you were mature enough to handle the responsibility. This weaving is not homework so work on it when you have the time. You are to bring this weaving with you each time you have art class. If you forget your weaving, you will receive one reminder before a phone call will be placed. If you lose your weaving, your needle or any part of your weaving kit, it will not be replaced. Have fun and weave!
I know what you are thinking: that would never work for me! Well...it doesn't always work for me either. There's always the kid whose dog devours their weaving, whose kid brother flushes it down the toilet, whose mom accidentally throws it away. So, you make exceptions. You quietly slip those kids a new loom or needle and tell 'em not to spread the word to their buddies that you are actually a softie.

I also promise a grand reward to those that remember to bring their weaving back the following art class (a blow pop is the preferred dangling carrot of choice). But I only do that once. After that, the kids become very competitive. "I have four inches woven, how many do you have?!" Which morphs into, "I finished my flap, what about you?!" This positive peer pressure pushes the kids toward finishing their weavings. 

It's not a perfect system. There are some kids that don't have time or care to weave at home. And that's fine. They can work on their weavings during in-between-project time in art class. As for the early finishers, the kids get to keep their looms and needles, so they can rewarp their looms and begin a second weaving. This year, I had one student that wove five pouches (with cord handles!) in her spare time.

I have been doing this weaving project with my fourth grade students for many years. This is a project they look forward to since the first grade. I believe that excitement is what makes this weaving unit so successful. 

I do hope you've found this weaving series helpful. Thank you so much for sharing your ideas. I look forward to hearing more from you!
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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

In the Art Room: Weaving, Part 3

Weaving by one of my fourth grade students.
Hello, crafters! This week I am going to show you how to remove your completed weaving from your loom. If you have not started your weaving, no worries, you can begin here at Weaving, Part 1. Or, if you've finished your weaving and are now ready for the flap, you can catch up by reading Weaving, Part 2.

However, if you've done it all, then let's get to taking that weaving off the loom! This doesn't take long at all so you should be done in a snap.
You may begin on either side of your loom. I am starting on the side with the flap. Cut two warp strings close to the top. Never cut the warp strings close to the weaving as that will cause your weaving to unravel.
Tie your first knot so that it sits right on top of the weaving or weft strings. Do not pull the knot too tightly or it will cause the weaving to smash down and become uneven.
For the second knot, pull very tightly so that the double knot is secure.
Continue this process of cutting two strings near the top and double knot tying them until you have gotten to the end. If you have an odd number of warp strings, you will encounter three warp strings to tie at the end.
If you have this issue, simply put two strings together as one and tie it to the left over string. Double knot tie it as you have done the other warp strings.
Double check and make sure all warp strings are tied off and secure. At this point, you can snip the warp strings shorter.
When you flip your loom over, you will do the exact same thing. I like to pull the warp strings out from the other side or you could simply cut two as you have been.
Again, cut two, double knot tie two and continue until all strings are tied and secure. Trim warp strings.
Now you are ready to remove the weaving from the loom. This might be a bit of a struggle, especially if you have woven very tightly. But you can do it. Just put the end of the loom between your knees and start pulling the weaving off the loom. In art class, we say it's like taking a too-small sock off of someone's foot.
Don't worry about messing it up because you can't. Although it may look like you are.
And if you see this, don't panic.
Just flip it inside out and flatten by hand. Viola! You've woven a pouch!
Next week, I'll walk you through sewing on a button and making that little warp tail (seen in the photo above this one) disappear. Then we are on to creating the handle which is very easy and fun. Please feel free to ask questions or leave comments if you've got 'em. Happy weaving!
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Friday, June 15, 2012

In the Art Room: Weaving, Part 1

Woven pouches created by fourth grade artists. You can see more of their masterpieces at our school-wide art show here and here.

Since I shared with you photos from our art show, I've had several questions about the woven pouches that were featured. Because this project is so easy and fun, I thought I'd share it now that the kids are out of school and getting a little...well...restless. It's the perfect summer what-can-we-do-now-? craft.

In the art room, this project has become a rite of passage for my fourth grade students but can easily be created by kids as young as second grade.  Because this craft involves multiple steps, I've divided it up into four posts: Weaving Part 1: Getting Started; Part 2: Weaving the Flap; Part 3: Removing the Weaving and Finishing; Part 4: Weaving a Cord

Please, fellow art teachers and parents, leave comments below on how you teach this lesson differently. And, of course, questions if you got 'em. Have fun!
 Supplies: 
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • a loom. I purchase ours through Sax but you can create your own with thick cardboard.
  • Thin cotton string. This was bought for a couple bucks at Walmart but in a pinch, you could use yarn.
  • Big-eyed needles. Again, Walmart would carry these in their craft department.
 Preparing your loom:

These looms that I purchase through Sax have notches in them that are too far apart. When you weave with them like this, it creates a pouch that is a little too loosely woven, in my opinion. So I have the kids cut the part that sticks up (we call them "teeth") in half. It's a struggle because the cardboard is thick and there is some moaning and groaning but they can do it. 

If you are creating your own loom from cardboard, you will want to space your notches about 1/4" apart. I'm not really into exact measurements, so I say just eyeball it. However, make sure that you have the same number of notches on the top as the bottom.
 Warping your loom:

Warping your loom is the process in which you are putting the string on your loom that you will weave over and under. To do this, start at one corner of your loom and tape your warping string into place. I have the kids put the tape at the bottom of the notches. This will prevent the kids from accidentally weaving over or under this small string.
Now begin wrapping the warp string all the way around the loom. For example, from the taped end, go down to the bottom cut notch, wrap string around the back and up to the top notch and then go to the bottom again. You should have strings on both sides of your loom, making certain not to skip any of the pre-cut or notches-you-cut.

While you are warping, keep the string attached to the cone. I do not allow the kids to cut the string from the cone unless I have checked their loom. If they have skipped a notch, this allows them to go back and fix it without wasting any warping string.
 Once you've checked the loom and are certain no notches were skipped, cut the string and tape it down. Again, tape as close to the notches as possible. Use your creepy bending finger (shown above) to scoot those other warp stings over to tape the string underneath.
 Weaving:

The process of weaving is that of going over and under the warp strings in an A-B pattern. The string you weave with is called the weft. No long needle like this one? Tape your string to the end of a pencil or skewer stick.
 Pull yarn through until you have left behind a 1" tail. Turn the loom over and weave over and under on the back. Once finished with that side, turn loom over to the original side.
 Now, this time, weave the opposite of the previous string. For example, in the photo above, I wove over and under because the string underneath was under and over.
 You know you are weaving correctly when you see something like this. Looks a little like the netting of a tennis racket.
 But it's too loose. Do you see all of those white warp strings through your weaving? Well, you don't want to. Use a fork to pack down your weaving until those warp strings disappear and all you see are the weft strings.
 Adding a new weft: 

Okay, this one is debatable. Technically, you are not to tie two stings together but overlap the strings to add another. Or something. But at this point, if I throw one more piece of info at the kids, they are likely to have an aneurysm. So, we simply double knot tie a new string to the old, snip the "tails" and keep on weaving.
 Incorrect weaving: 

How do you know if you are weaving incorrectly? Well, you'll see a lot of vertical warp strings, like you see in the yellow portion of my weaving above. This happens when you are not weaving the opposite of the previous string, but weaving the same over and over again. If you see this, you have to take it out and redo.
 Weaving away...

I tell the kids that their weaving must be somewhere in between 4-7" tall. This allows room at the top of the loom for weaving the flap and tying off the weaving. This should keep those kiddos all tied up (heehee, tempting, right?) until next week. I plan to take mine on an upcoming trip to keep me occupied.

Remember, you are weaving on both sides of the loom, front and back. Ya hear?
 So stay tuned!

Next week, we'll learn how to weave that flap. Again, feel free to leave any questions or comments and happy weaving!

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