Lines, Laughter, Eclipses, Bats and the Poop Emoji

 

#mwisdmatters

This second week of school was a great mish-mash. I focused on teaching the art element line with all three grade levels, 4th, 5th and 6th. We got a good start by creating sketchbooks, (5 sheets of paper folded in half and stapled). It is still amazing to me after more than twenty-three years of doing this how the simplest things that are easy for adults (well, most adults) need to be considered and taught slowly to a child. Things like how to fold a piece of paper in half and get the edges to match up. How to use a stapler safely. If you’ve ever stapled a finger you understand the need. Um…it hurts like the devil ( I speak from experience) and when those little tines bend under your skin…trust me, you don’t want that.

Their sketchbooks become a place for students to practice, from a warmup with a five minute drawing exercise each day to a place to write vocabulary words and spell them correctly. We moved from identifying and drawing different types of lines to contour line drawing.  I’m a big believer in Betty Edwards’ Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain methods so contour line drawing is big thing for me, teaching them to see that the edge where space and an object touch is a contour. How to see that if you draw the object you are also drawing the space around it. At the same time we are still learning classroom routines, like who opens the door if someone knocks, who passes out supplies and artwork? What happens if I’m absent? What happens if I’m tardy? Where do I go to catch my bus? Can I trust this strange lady teacher who is trying to get me to do all this crazy stuff?

We touched on the first of our safety drills for fire, lockdown, tornado and shelter-in place. I made this into a group project, where each student group presented to the class how they should behave during the drill and then we discussed an changes or problems. They love playing the “what if” game. “What if a big meteor comes down through the ceiling and the door is on fire, what would we do?” What if a gorilla got loose in the school what would we do?”  So, I stock up on super hero answers, they laugh and then we practice the real stuff. A big responsibility, teaching them how to be safe. Speaking of heroes, hats off to our valiant Assistant Principal Andy Pool who safely corralled a bat on the front walkway in front of our school. I was walking with our 6th graders to the cafeteria when they saw a bat on the ground through the glass front doors of our school. Immediate chants of ” A bat! A bat!” Have you ever noticed that if there is ANYTHING kids are not supposed to see, that’s the first thing their kid radar zooms in on? I kept them from going out and Mr. Pool took care of the bat. We have an amazing bat sanctuary near Mineral Wells and they very quickly came and took the little guy away. We also had the solar eclipse this week, which we watched safely in our classroom on the NASA website. Amazing universe we live in.

We drew a familiar object, a glue bottle, and discussed how to use hatching to show a light source and shading. They were just great, these kids, little sponges, game to try whatever I asked, for the most part so anxious to please, so critical of their abilities. It is the most delicate of things, maintaining fragile egos while carefully pushing students to improve. I practice a lot of ignoring technique when I hear the dreaded “I can’t draw.” I sometimes play the I’ll draw one line, you draw the next one to get them going. I try to pick the simplest warmups . We drew emoji’s (a big hit) except for the poop emoji that I forgot is all the rage now in that Emoji movie. So if you see poop emojis in your child’s sketchbook, I apologize.

But the thing the kids like the best this week was gesture drawing. That’s where you have one student pose and the other students have one minute to draw them. I have them use marker so that they can’t erase (sneaky art teacher). They LOVED this and the drew happily and laughed at their drawings. I quickly found my extroverts in each class that like to strike a pose. Thanks to Mrs. Sneed for letting me borrow the sports equipment. The final day this week was fun too. We drew contour line self portraits. I wanted a baseline drawing for each student so we can compare that to how they draw themselves after I have a chance to teach them over the next 10 weeks. I’m excited to see the results. So we broke out the mirrors. It is always fun to see how they see themselves. Lots of hair fixing went on at first. And teeth checking. Lots of freckle counting too. And I got asked about scars a lot. “Can I draw my scar?” You find out a lot about kids when they draw. A good week, even with the poop emoji.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Favorite Meal

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My 4th grade art students always seem to have fewer barriers between their art and their imagination than my 5th and 6th graders. I’m not sure why that is, but is delightful to watch and listen to them as they open up to a project. I revisited an old classic recently when I asked my 4th grade artists to draw their favorite meal.

The set up for the project is a discussion about going on a picnic. Students get to pick their favorite foods to have at the picnic, which must include a main course, sides, drink and dessert. They must also include silverware and a napkin and a tablecloth under the plate.

I have three goals for this project.

  1. They must have their food shown from a bird’s-eye point of view, which involves a demonstration and discussion of how shapes change when they are shown from different perspectives.
  2. They must show a place setting, which involved a discussion and pictures of how you set a table. Social skills in art class. I wonder how many families sit down at a common table for dinner these days, so I hope I filled in a gap for some of my students who have not ever set a table.
  3. They must show a pattern of some kind on the tablecloth, which reinforces the definition of a pattern in art as a repeated shape or color series.

Students have a large sheet of paper as their format, 12 x 18 inches, and draw first in pencil, then outline in sharpie and color with crayon. I give them a paper plate to draw around to make sure we don’t have miniature plates.

And oh the stories about what food my students like the best!

And the extras! Ants on the tablecloth. Butterflies flying over the picnic.  Good memories about family. Great fun.

Art Elements 101

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I found a wonderful beginning art project to explain and practice the seven art elements all on one composition on the great blog https://tinyartroom.wordpress.com/2015/09/02/elements-of-fourth-grade/. So thank you Miss Osborne! I love this project.Art Elements 1

Art Elements 2

A little background. We have a twelve week fine arts rotation schedule in our elementary school. Fourth, fifth and sixth grade students come to art for twelve weeks, music for twelve weeks and technology for twelve weeks. Thirty minute classes, Monday through Friday. It is a great schedule for continuity in the lessons. Students don’t forget what they learned yesterday like they do if you only come to art class once a week. So we hit the ground running at the beginning of the year, to cover as much material as we can. After the have-to’s in any classroom; behavior rules, emergency drills, where does everything go discussions, we get down to art business, which was about Wednesday of the first week.

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dsc09790The art elements are a critical understanding in my class. As I tell my students, “They help you interpret new art you have never seen and organize the art that you create today.” This year I built an art elements power point to help us progress through the lesson. the-elements-PowerPoint
The words I use with each slide are on the notes pages of the power point. Plus I used a super art elements handout from Pinterest that focuses on each element in a kind of short-hand way. At this point my intent is more about building a visual vocabulary than creativity, although there are plenty of opportunities to be creative and make choices. My students really seemed to respond well to this beginning and now we are on to a new project with out art elements firmly in mind. Here’s some results:

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