Showing posts with label collage lesson. Show all posts
Showing posts with label collage lesson. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

In the Art Room: A Guest Post While I'm Away!

Hey guys! Just back from the NAEA conference in San Diego...and attempting to recover from that awesome experience! I'll be back with you soon with plenty of photos and stories from this past weekend but until then, please enjoy this post written by fellow art teacher buddy Faigie!

I am so thrilled to be filling in for Cassie while she has a great time in San Diego. 
I like to bill myself as the art teacher with no art background.
I do have a Masters in Early Childhood Education and have always been extremely involved in the progressive art part of early ed, and have even given workshops to teach teachers how to incorporate good art into their classrooms.
It was only this year however,  that I became a bona fide art teacher, teaching in a new private school that only goes up to first grade so far.
Even though I have a passion for kids and their art, I've always  particularly loved collage. I really see how with a little bit of direction and some suggestive materials collage brings out the best of children's creativity.
This year I only have the first grade and Kindergarten and usually try to do different activities with them.
For this activity however, I decided to give both of them collage. For the first grade  I added a bit of a twist.
I cut out some basic shapes using the large shaped hole punchers to get nice round circles. I also decided to add some hexagons for interest. 

When the children came in I sat them down and held up each shape individually. We discussed what each of those shapes made them think of.
I wanted them to go to the table thinking and to  create "something",  not just a design.
It's obvious from their work that they really did try to use their pieces as part of a larger picture.
I also added their own descriptions of their pictures to their artwork which I find really adds dimension.

Some of course made one larger picture while others made a few smaller objects on their papers.
Then came the first graders.
When they came in I went through the same discussion that I had had with the Kindergarteners but, I added one thing.
I had found a bunch of patterned papers that I had with my art stuff and I told them that they had to pick out a piece of a pattern from one of the papers and incorporate it into their collages.

I found that many of the children got their ideas from their pieces they cut out and built on their artwork from there (which was the idea).
The one below was a squirrel trying to get an acorn from a tree.

 In this one, the little girl wrote her own description of what was going on in her picture. 

One of the things I love so much about collage is that there is so much variety that can be added to each collage activity that only allows for more and more creativity. There are also many levels of sophistication in many of them and I know this can be done with all ages.
And now for my disclaimer:
I can never compete with Cassie's wardrobe  and I don't intend to.
HOWEVER, I didn't think it would be nice to finish off a post on her blog without showing you a picture of what THIS art teacher wore (or wears).
So here is my picture below of what I wear (or change into) in EVERY art class.

Faigie Kobre is a new  art teacher in a fledgling private school . She also gives art classes in her home. She runs a blog called EduArt 4 Kids teaching parents and teachers how to give their kids  great art that will help them think. She believes that everyone  can and should do art. She has a FREE report that you can get  now called "The REAL reason most people can't draw a straight line, plus 5 tips to make sure your child will". Even if you are a real artist, a distinction that she does not claim to have, you will find it interesting and may even help you help the parents of your students.
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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

In the Artroom: A Starry Night Collage and Thoughts on Teaching Art

Friends, Ima be honest with you. I've been in a funk. It started with a sinus-y head cold that morphed into no-energy-itis which developed into a bad case of nobody-likes-me, everybody-hates-me, I'm-just-gonna-sit-over-here-and-pout. I have blamed my cold and lack of energy for my bad attitude but, if I'm being truly honest, there have actually been a couple things eating away at my thoughts. And one of them has been teaching art.
So here's the deal: I recently joined a group on Facebook called "Art Teachers". And it's pretty rad, interacting with art educators, seeing the work of their students, hearing their struggles and successes. But there have also been some, um, debates. It seems that there are two camps of art teachers out there: those that teach choice-based art and, well, those that don't.

Now before I go tip-toeing into a land mine (because those aforementioned debates have gotten very feisty), lemme first say that I am not a choice-based art teacher. Nor do I know very much about the concept although I am intrigued. From my understanding, in a choice-based art room, children are allowed to work with their chosen art media to express their ideas. In a nutshell.

Here's what I love about the idea: children creating art based on their own individual interests and inspirations. In a choice-based art room, the kids are routinely introduced to new media and allowed to explore their ideas with that new material. Or they can use whatever other supplies that have been introduced throughout the year. It sounds so happy and harmonious and free. In my imagination, it looks like a college art studio filled with little people sculpting, painting and weaving their little hearts out.

But here's the thing that bothers me: a music teacher wouldn't simply show a child a room full of musical instruments, teach them a couple of the basics and tell them to then make music. Not without first teaching them all that there is to know about playing, writing and composing a piece, not to mention introducing them to both classical and contemporary composers. Because without those fundamentals, I imagine children would simply bang on the instruments, grow bored and lose interest. Is it possible the same might happen in an art room? I don't know.

I've heard the argument that if you, as an art teacher, know what the end product of a lesson is going to look like, then the work of art is your own and not your students. This really really made me question how I teach. Am I doing a disservice to my students? Am I robbing them of their creativity and exploration? Is this Starry Night/collage/painting/weaving project recently created by 1st grade actually harming the creative exploration of my students?
 Again, I don't know.

What I do know is that, like a classroom teacher giving a test to check for hitting benchmarks and understanding, I can see that my students learned the following (side note: each "Day" is a 30 minute art class. Yes, 30-super-short/very-precious minutes):

Day #1: How to mix a shade of blue with black and blue. How to use a variety of brush strokes and lines to show movement in their sky like our inspirational artist, Vincent van Gogh. How to paint the secondary color green and create a texture onto that paper.

Day #2: How to create a landscape collage by tearing the green paper and creating a foreground, middle ground and back ground. How to create a paper loom for weaving.
Day #3: How to weave. How to use collage to create a house by cutting out geometric shapes from recycled pieces of paper. 
Day #4: How to add a star to my piece (see this post on how we marbled these stars) and have it tell a story in your work of art. Is it a shooting star? A falling star? An explosion of color? What can you think of?
Day #5: How to add that house to the landscape and add other elements of their choosing to that landscape. How to brainstorm ideas for their work of art (what can go in the background? a dog house? a neighborhood? trees?).

(Houses about half finished...still working out ideas for the background and the shooting star.)

Knowing that they have learned all of this, is this lesson a bad one? I like to think not. My students surpassed my notion of what their completed piece would look like by adding animals, trees, dog houses, houses in the distance, moons, curtains in the window, you name it.
But I did have a notion what their finished work of art would look like.
Which again, brings me back to where I started. Sigh. 

Look, I've been teaching art for a very long time (this is my 16th year, time seriously does fly!) and I'm not even going to pretend I've got the answers or even a flipping clue. And I think those folks that do think they have all the answers are just fools. Or maybe cowards that are too afraid to question what they've always done. I mean, shouldn't we always be looking to do what is best for our students?

So, I ask you, honestly, what are your thoughts?

And, if I've offended anyone, choice-based or not, that was not my intention. Thanks, ya'll.
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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

In the Art Room: Vicious Vikings!

If ever the words adorable and Viking could be used together in a sentence, it would have to be upon viewing these painted and collage-tastic works of art. I mean, just scroll down and take in the hilarity. Super-Awesome-Cuteness-Overload. With a touch of axe-wielding angst. The perfect combo for a Viking, says these first and second grade artists.

(hey. I'm whispering this to you. that's why it's in italics and lower case. all images of children that you see here are published with permission of viking parents. because i like my job and would prefer not to get fired.)
Now before I go into the details of this lesson, I have to give a big fat hairy shout out to my (sadly, former) student teacher Rebecca who taught these young artists as well as Laura of Painted Paper who inspired this lesson. Rebecca taught the first through fourth grade students a Viking unit based on her summer travels through Norway. You can see the third graders' Viking ship collages here. For the younger artists, she decided to create a lesson that turned the kids themselves into Vikings.

On the first day of the lesson, the kids painted the papers for their backgrounds. In one (insanely busy) half hour class, the kids chose one 12" X 18" piece of construction paper for the back ground and two pieces of 12" X 9" paper in white and green. And here's how it went down in bullet points. Because I love me some bullet points:
  • (oh, so pointy!) The kids began with the larger paper. Using a sponge the size of their hands, they stamped white paint all over the top half of the paper. Once finished, they chose a smaller sponge and two colors of their choice to blend into the white paint for their sky.
  • From there, the children moved onto the two smaller papers. On these, they were to use a dry brush technique with green, white and yellow.
All that in 1/2 hour. Hence the gray hairs
The following class, Rebecca showed the kids a Power Point (is that one word? Should it be in caps? Do I really care?) of her travels and the beautiful landscape of Norway in the summer. The kids were then shown how to tear each of their green painted papers lengthwise and glue them down. The trick to teaching this lesson is making sure that the children begin gluing the background land first and slowly work toward the foreground. I'm kinda in love with this collage technique. I used it here for our Paris collages and here for our Egyptian ones.
For the body and assorted details of the Viking, the kids created another piece of painted paper. I wrote an entire blog post about this process which you can read all about here, if you wanna.

Our end result looked a little like this. The side on the right was used for the body of the Viking. For this, the kids cut the entire painted paper in half, folded the side you see on the right in half and, along the fold, traced half of a Viking body template and cut it out. Now before you freak out because a template was used, lemme 'splain myself: 1. I have a half an hour. Sometimes short cuts are a necessity. 2. Folding the paper in half, tracing half a template, cutting and opening the paper to discover (surprise!) a whole Viking body is an excellent means of teaching symmetry.

As the children worked on that, Rebecca called the kids aside for their Viking photo-op. She took two photos of the kids: a picture day smile and a fierce Viking face photo. In the following class, the children were able to chose between the two.
At the start of the next couple of classes, Rebecca would introduce a new fact about the Vikings to the children. They learned all about Viking culture, clothing, the long ships and long houses as well as their fierce ways.

The kids learned that they'd have to create a helmet, shield, weapon and some clothing for their Viking. Oh and "weird animal skin shoes" as one student called them today.
One of my favorite things about these Vikings is how some appear to be missing some teeth! This Vike-ette musta been in some rough battles to get her teeth knocked out. Either that or she's from Kentucky (just kidding, Kentucky friends!).
Once the kids chose their photo, they carefully cut around their face and glued it to their body. Braids and beards were added with construction paper which is much easier than it sounds. For this, Rebecca and I split the boys and girls up so that we could give individual demos to each group. Once the hair stylings were complete, helmets were added.
The next couple of classes were spent collaging boots, belts, sheilds and, everyone's favorite weapons! Well, almost everyone's favorite. I did have two sweet students who asked if their Viking could be reading instead of wielding a weapon. What were they reading, you ask? One was holding a book titled "How to be a Good Viking." Adorbs.
Don't tell anyone but this Viking's face is secretly my fave. With his expression and that mustache, he reminds me of Salvador Dali, don't you agree? I love it.
As a wrap up, I asked the kids the following questions today: Who were the Vikings? What did they do? Where did they live? I jotted down their answers on the board and I was so proud of everything they had learned. I wish Rebecca could have been there, it was a happy teacher moment for sure. 

The students were to then write a small paragraph about their Viking. With the exception of the one that said his Viking "cills peepel" (yikes! Gonna do a rewrite!), what they wrote was so fun to read. Almost as fun as those Vikings themselves! 

In other news...I now have a Facebook page for this blog! You can go and like it (or not, be that way) here:

Because I'm super computer un-savvy, I've yet to figure out how to create a link on this blog to take you directly to my facebook page. My apologies. I blame my pea-sized brain. If any of you computer geniuses out there would like to offer some advice, I'll gladly take it. In the meantime, up there's the linky-loo, "like" if you like. And thanks for dropping by!
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