Friday, September 28, 2012

Time and Pace

All of my classes are in the midst of projects, so no blog-worthy pictures this week. We also had a schedule disruption with a mid-week day off for the holiday. It's interesting seeing what impact schedules have on the experiences kids have in the art class. I already feel like my 4th grade project has taken too long, and I'm very ready for us to move on. I thought my first graders would be done this week too, but realized nobody was ready for painting yet. There's got to be a balance between pace and creative attention. Moving too fast through a project makes the art little more than busy work. Moving too slowly can cause frustration and lack of interest in why we're doing an activity. I want our projects to be rich in exploration of ideas, provide enough time for all students to have an opportunity to accomplish something successfully, but also keep us rolling through the year with lots of artistic experiences.
In Art Club, I offered the kids a chart of possible activities- they voted, and the most popular item was stuffed animals! Guess what we're starting off with next week?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Kindergarten Cooperation

 Loop-dy-loop-dy-loop! CCCS Kindergartners learned about the colors of the rainbow, made loopy lines, and learned about sharing materials in the art room this week. To get them started we sat in the circle area and sang a color song. Then we practised drawing small, big, fast, and slow loopy lines in the air.
 Some kindergartners have more careful coloring skills than others, but some of them put a lot of energy and enthusiasm into filling up their space. They had to share the crayon boxes, asking for it with a please and a thank you. They also had to share their table space and picture. I put out a giant piece of paper on each table (and a great "wooooow!" rose from the little ones).
 I'm really proud of how well my kindergartners are adjusting to the art room. They work cooperatively and quietly. When their pictures were done, I cut out the loops so they looked like clouds and hung them in the Kindergarten corridor. What I didn't know was that nearly the whole school uses the bathrooms in this corridor during lunchtime- and everyone has been really complimentary about how nice it is to have something to look at there while they wait their turn! Although I think we need a conversation about how to treat artwork in the halls. I saw one girl practically hugging one of the low-hanging loopy clouds.
Hopefully I'll have lots more work to hang up soon. The rest of the grades are all working on "name" inspired works (because I have so many names to remember!!!). Here are my exemplars hanging out on the board. We had art club signups this week, and Art Club starts after school next Tuesday.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Rainbow halls

Tonight was Back-To-School Night! So I made sure we had some art on the walls just in time. I ended up putting the kids' self-portraits up in 4 different spots around the building. The classes are all mixed up (getting the art back to them will be a feat!!). Having them all together makes even the not-so-finished ones look good.
 I loved hearing the kids as they walked by while I was hanging the work- "Hey! There's Mine!!!"
 Three of the installations just have rainbow layouts, but one in the 2nd floor hallway has a hidden message-"SEE".
It's so great having all this bright color around the school. I can't wait till we finish some more projects and I can start filling some more stairwells.
Some of the other teachers even popped by my room to compliment the work-YAY!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Portraits and Self-portraits

What a week! Every class that saw me this week practiced a fire drill- very important since we're all the way up on the 3rd floor. With one 5th grade class, we were about to do our practice run when all of a sudden the REAL fire alarm was going off!!
Despite having to spend time practicing we still had time to finish our self-portraits. I asked kids to review their work and check that they had used a variety of materials, had an interesting background, had added a few extra details this week, and had their NAME on it. It will be so exciting to put these up on the wall next week in time for our back-to-school night. Here's a hodge podge of efforts from the "red" table from various classes:
 As this was the first finished project, I wanted to make sure that kids who finished at different rates would have plenty to do. So I took the Frida Kahlo and Mona Lisa posters that I had first use to compare and contrast the differences between a portrait and a self-portrait, and pinned them to the wall with two empty speech bubbles attached. I asked kids to imagine what the two ladies would say to us or what they would say to each other. They were invited to get a paper from the free-draw table and create a Frida and Mona cartoon for me. At the end of the week I sorted through the submissions and picked a winner from the 3rd grade, using his idea to fill my speech bubbles. Frida says, "Mona Lisa, Why did you smile in your picture?", and Mona replies, "Frida, I'm not telling because nobody knows!". His original submission included an extended series of "pleases" and "Noooo!s". I also chose a few runner-ups who will receive a little prize, and gave all kids who had made a thoughtful submission a few extra points on their projects. I was really excited that a few children brought back submissions they had done for homework!!
For my little ones, I introduced the free activity table for those who finished. I have paper, crayon boxes, "chunky rainbow" crayons, plastic tanagram shapes, and wooden pattern blocks. It was beautiful watching them have free creative time, drawing, arranging shapes, and building. One 1st grader called me over to see what he had made with the blocks, and said, "Look Ms. Elcin, I made YOU!":

What an excellent validation for me that he had learned the idea of portrait and self-portrait, and also that my students are beginning to feel comfortable with me as their new art teacher!

Friday, September 7, 2012

A peek inside the table folders

 I thought I'd try out using table folders for collecting and passing back artwork. I've got 5 tables labeled with 5 colors to help students identify where they sit. Even though I took great pains all week to check that ALL artwork had names, I know a few sneaked by me. With all students' artwork tucked inside the folders, I won't waste any time trying to figure out whose work is whose next class. One unanticipated problem with folders..... if the helper table kids don't carry the work carefully, all the work spills out.... We'll be doing some demonstration on how to pass back and collect supplies next week.
While most of our time was spent on going over all the rules this week, we also managed to squeeze in some artmaking time. I'm having the whole school K-5 do small cartoonish self-portraits to fit together in a mural of all our young artists. I sorted some crayons, markers, and colored pencils into baskets for each table. Some kids were upset that they couldn't have another color, but they adapted. Here are some of the Kindergartners' efforts:

from the "orange" table
 I'm really astonished with how well this project serves as an artistic development assessment. Can students follow directions (like draw with the paper in a vertical orientation, and fill in the entire paper with color)? What stage of people-drawing are they at (sun heads, shape bodies, stick arms and legs, or contour lines)?
from the "blue" table
With every class I encouraged students to persevere and fix any "mistakes". Part of my rules explanation included the statement, "We turn mistakes into Opportunities" and "Try your BEST". I explained how crumpled up artwork makes me very sad, and shows me that you're not really trying. It was a tough concept for some kids when markers hit paper, but we're all learning.
from the "green" table
It was fun to watch some kids brighten up when they realized how open the assignment was. I love those questions like, "Is it okay if I use black?" or "Can I draw myself in a dress?" Of course you can! As a result, I have some VERY interesting and creative "self-portraits".
from the "red" table

 I had originally planned on letting kids use pencils to sketch their picture out first. BIG mistake! My first class got way more stressed out about messing up, and got nowhere. From then on I said NO PENCILS! It drove home my "fix the mistakes" idea and worked out a lot better.
from the "yellow" table
 It will be exciting to see these all finished and put up together. Next week we've still got to do fire drill practice, and then we'll have a little more time to add some extra details. Hopefully we'll also be able to start combining the classes' efforts.
It's been an exciting first week!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Art room trash into treasure

While setting up my room last week I cleaned out the old crayon boxes of broken pieces and filled them back up with fresh crayons. (Oh the beauty of a box of new crayons!!). I soaked off the paper from the old crayons and then found two ways to transform them. A selection of sorted crayon pieces in neutrals, warms, and cools ended up in my "ART" mosaic on the door. The rest have been recycled into new multicolored chubby crayons.
 At home I found an egg poaching tray which I have NEVER used (and will never use again for cooking). Each compartment was filled up with crayon bits sorted into analogous colors centered on secondaries. I placed it on a cookie tray and set it in the oven for 15 minutes on 250.
 They're beautiful when melted together. A little jiggle of the tray helps swirl the colors together a bit. I wish there was marbled paint like this that wouldn't mix together into mud. I'm reminded of a certain old Looney Tunes cartoon with Easter bunnies dipping brushes into multicolored paint cans and slapping patterns onto eggs!
Since I only had the 3 crayon batches going at a time, it's been slow going. However my bag of crayon crumbles has now transformed into about 30 new multi-colored crayon disks that fit very nicely in the hands. The best use of these, I believe, will be for doing texture rubbings. The analogous color blends create instant interesting color on the page. I've also considered using these as reward prizes throughout the year, but maybe that's something to do with next year's batch of crayon bits. Maybe by then I can also find a nice silicone candy mold to make cool shapes instead of discs.
Moral of the story: no kid wants to use a broken crayon, but every kid has fun with a multicolored crayon, and this project saves money in the budget while creating something awesome for the art classroom!