Monday, June 30, 2014

This year in 2nd grade

My second graders have a lot of energy and curiosity. They seem to get really engrossed in details. Some of them already have a serious interest in drawing certain styles or genres of things, and they love to share their independent artwork with me. But it's also an age when I start to see a lack of confidence in artistic ability, so we have a lot of conversations about how important it is to try your best, and that practice makes you grow, and that you need to experiment and try new things. The first half of the year we work on elements and principles of art and genre, and the second half we focus on art around the world.
Here's what we learned in second grade this year:
We learned how to turn lines into shapes and use patterns:
somebody really liked stripes!
 We learned how to use a compass and ruler to draw geometric shapes,and our imaginations to make organic shapes. We learned how to blend oil pastels to mix colors and create tints and shades:
Kandinsky-inspired non-objective art project
 We learned how to draw forms like cylinders and prisms. We learned how to shade in colored pencil. We tried to make a realistic still-life by looking at the light and shadows of our objects:
 We learned how to make values in paint. We learned about background and foreground to create space in a landscape:
poor little lost bunny in the big city
 We learned about illustrations and how pictures help us understand a story. We also made a self-portrait that showed what we like to read:
 We learned about folk-art traditions in Mexico.We learned how forms can be combined to make a sculpture and how to make it strong and stable:
 We learned about fiber art traditions in Central America. We learned about concentric lines and shapes, contrast and repetition:
 We learned about art and animals in Mali, Africa. We learned how to make a stamp and how to print a pattern. We learned about prey and predator animals and how to blend oil pastels:
 We learned about architecture from around the world, and drew dream buildings inspired by famous works of architecture.
I hope my second graders keep their creative spirit and open minds as they enter third grade!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

This year in First Grade

There are some things that my school curriculum requires for all my grades. For example,learning the elements and principles of design, learning about different genres of art, how to use a variety of materials to make art, etc. In addition to the regular stuff I have to hit, with the first graders I also like to move content from self-family-community-world. As I look at these pictures I realize I might need to move some of those projects around to get the right flow...
This year in first grade we looked at Jasper Johns, and we learned how to identify primary colors and mix them to create secondary colors:
 We read "The Dot" and learned how to control the paint brush to make different sizes of marks. Then we reviewed different lines and drew on top of our dots to make more interesting pictures.
 We learned about the seasons and how trees change. We learned how to draw what we see with our eyes, and how to print from a texture. We also learned how to collage and make a landscape.
 We learned how to make different values in paint. We learned about horizon lines and how to make things look near or far by changing their size.
 We learned how to draw faces in proportion and how to show emotion through expressions.
 We learned about the difference between a portrait and a self-portrait and how to use identifying details to make a drawing look like someone specific. We also practiced our coloring skills- no scribble scrabble!!
 Next we took a trip around the world. We learned about Australian animals and Aboriginal dot painting.We learned how to draw animals using familiar shapes and drew from pictures.
 We learned about the Amazon rainforest and the animals that live there. We learned how to make a monoprint, and reviewed our coloring and collage skills.
 We learned about Ancient Egypt, pyramids, hieroglyphics, and scarab beetles. We learned how to sculpt forms and make actual texture. We learned about symbols.
 We came back home to our backyards to discover what creatures are around us.We learned how to color carefully in colored pencil and how to draw from observation.
And finally, although I was not able to get any pictures, we learned that art can tell a story. We made character puppets and landscape background theatres.
It's been a productive year for first grade. I need to work on some more classroom management techniques for these chatty kids, and maybe find some more books to inspire their lessons. I like to use stories in K and 1st more than artworks because they become more enthralled. Reading stories also breaks up the class period for their short little attention spans. Only one of these projects I kept unaltered from the year before- the family portrait. The name project, tree, snowy landscape, and Australian animals were revamped. I will absolutely keep "The Dot" project. It seems that projects involving paint are best done BIG, and those with drawing and coloring are best kept small for this age group. I should probably work on keeping the 1st grade projects shorter like the Kinder projects, as anything that takes longer than 2 weeks tends to lose their interest. I have 10 projects out of 12 we did shown above. Unless I've forgotten something....
Anyway, great job first graders!!!!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


Before Imove on from my Kindergartner projects completely, I thought I'd FINALLY post a thank you and review. A while back I won a  prize from The Art of Ed when they were doing a giveaway from Roylco. The package arrived at school at just the right time,as I was stuck for a way to finish off my Kinders' Wild Things project. In the box were a variety of Roylco products: some stained glass and koi project templates, some op-art weaving pages, some clay texture rollers, some paint scrapers, a bag full of earth-tone mosaic squares, and a variety of texture plates. While I'm not that excited about the ready-made art project stuff (although my art club liked the op art paper weaving), I did like to see that the mosaic squares came in other colors besides BRIGHT RAINBOW. I'm holding on to the clay rollers for when my school buildings switch and I have access to a kiln finally. The paint scrapers have been added to my collection so now I think I have enough for one per kid in a class. But what I was REALLY excited about were the texture plates!
It's scary how much we love texture!
 They came with 2 textures on a plate about 8x10 in size, which were easily cut in half to immediately double my stock. I ended up with about 12 plates that could be shared 2-3 per table in my room. For this project I had kids draw and color their own wild thing after watching an animated version of "Where the Wild Things Are". We noted all the different shapes and textures on the monsters that Maurice Sendak had drawn, and practiced some shapes on the board that could be put together to make a scary monster.
 We used markers and crayons, noting that markers like to draw LINES and crayons are good for coloring in SHAPES. Once all colored in, I had the kids carefully cut out their monster and put it aside. This was the last project of the year, and was a culmination of all the skills I'd hoped they'd gained in art this year.
 Next I showed them how to make a texture rubbing for their background to make it more interesting. They found the peeled crayon bits leftover in the boxes (so great to do this at the end of the year when all the crayons are broken!!!), placed the plates under their construction paper and rubbed all over, moving the plate to fill in as necessary. Some chose to stick with one texture for an overall pattern. Whereas other chose to use all the patterns that were available at their table. I like how in this one there's a sky and ground feel by combining 2 different patterns for the top and bottom:
 Some switched colors while using the same plate. I couldn't get this kid to STOP rubbing his paper, but it turned out really cool with the two-tone shading that matched the colors of his monster:
After completing their texture backgrounds, students glued their monsters down. I had one Kinder class too far behind to complete this lesson with the cutting and gluing step, so they just filled the blank area around their monsters with the textures, being careful not to scribble over their monsters.
My classroom environment is pretty small and flat- so there's not a lot of possibilities for found texture in my room, nor would I like having all my kids up and wandering around at once searching for textures. So the Roylco texture plates were a great way to give my students a tactile texture experience. Not only did we use them for rubbing texture prints, the plates now reside in my free choice center where students have enjoyed pressing them into the modeling clay. I highly recommend a variety of texture plate sets for the elementary classroom! Thanks Roylco and The Art of Ed!

Monday, June 23, 2014

This year in Kindergarten

Here's a look at what my kids learned about in Kindergarten Art.
We learned how to identify and mix colors:
Rainbow painting and collage 
We learned how to identify shapes and put them together to make bigger/different shapes:
Pezzetino and Friends shape creatures
 We learned how shapes and lines help us draw things and how to color and paint carefully:
Rainbow fish watercolor resist
 We learned that we can draw things we see with our eyes,and what a still-life is:
Block Still-life
 We learned about different types of lines and how to use scissors:
Thankful hands abstract
 We learned how to make space with big and small things and how to collage:
Snowy day collage
 We learned about radial symmetry and types of lines:
New Year's Fireworks
 We learned how to draw a self-portrait and make patterns:
snowy day self-portrait

 We learned about animals and habitats, foregrounds and backgrounds in a landscape:
animal and habitat collage
We learned about Japanese art and culture and how to do origami:
cherry blossoms and origami
 We learned about the art and culture of India and how to print and draw patterns (on elephants!):
Elmer the elephant and pattern printmaking
 We learned about illustration and reviewed shapes, coloring,patterns, cutting, gluing,and making textures:
Wild Things
 We learned about birds and how to make a sculpture, but all the birdies in their nests flew home before I got any pictures....
Finally, we saw how much we changed and grew as artists over the past year by comparing our first and last drawings:
I'm so proud of all my Kindergarten artists! I have some things I'd like to tweak in my curriculum for next year, but we made a LOT of art together this past year!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Exemplars and thinking back

Wow! So.. um.. where did that year go? I have been on summer vacation for one week after completing my second year of (almost) full time art teaching. It's a good time for reflection.
As I tidied and packed up my room that last week I pulled out all the exemplars that had been piling up in a drawer over the year, sorted them out by grade level and took a pic (with my blurry cell phone camera sadly). These show only the 2D work we did- all 3D work went home with kids and I don't have room for saving my 3D exemplars... Most of these are unfinished, as I rarely display a completed exemplar- usually only works in progress because I like to use them as prompts to see if the kids remember what the objectives are. Like, "Mine's not done yet is it? What should I do to it?" And I think the kids are more creative when they see something a little open-ended or see multiple possibilities.
 I cannot believe how many projects we did in Kinder this year!! Almost twice as many as any other grade level. I like to keep things short and sweet with the little ones because they have such a short attention span. The kids' favorite ones were painting rainbows, drawing fireworks, and making "wild things". The teachers' faves were their self-portraits in the snow and their cherry blossom trees and origami butterflies. My favorite was pattern Elmer elephants and Wild things. I never want to do bleeding tissue paper watercolor effects ever again.
 My first graders were also prolific (despite their constant chatter and my doubts that they ever listened to directions....). The kids' favorites were the scarab beetle sculpture and puppet theatres. The schoolwide favorites were the family portraits and Australian animals. My favorites were the "Dot" paintings and the bug jars (although they seriously freaked out our receptionist who had to stare at a display of them across from her desk for a few weeks- and I had numerous requests to switch out to something else!!). The city collage was a flop, because their scissor and glue skills were not yet developed enough for it.
 My second graders are another chatty group, and we did not get quite as much done as I'd like, but there were some good things. The kids LOVE the Oaxacan wood carvings(not shown) and predator/prey drawings, and so did I. We started and ended the year well, but the middle part was sluggish. The value landscape was a total flop and the self-portrait reading a book was just too long. Part of the problem was all our snow days.... but I'll be revamping a lot of things in my second grade for next year.
Third grade
 I loved, loved, loved my third grade classes this year. I always see them first thing in the morning, when they are fresh and eager to start their day. I had a very creative bunch who worked very hard to do well. I think all our projects were pretty good, but the kids absolutely loved sewing and making clay coil pots(not shown). Although I loved their food oil pastels with mosaic border, the mosaics took too long. The school loved seeing their Gyotaku fish prints.
 Oh 4th and 5th graders. What a disappointment.. I have a lot of work to do to figure out how to get you all more productive. Maybe we should just have silent art.... The 4th graders seemed most engaged with their impressionist landscapes and US maps/states project. I really liked their figure motion drawings and metal toolings. I did not like rotating 4 classes through papier mache projects over 3 months. I have so little space for storing sculpture. I think that papier mache gargoyle project has to go!
And 5th grade. Is it me? Is it you? We never even got to make ANY sculpture this year. Definitely revamping the 4th and 5th grade curriculum. Maybe you all need to work smaller too. This might not be a fair representation though, there's at least 2 projects missing from the above photo, but still. I've got my work cut out for me.
 I'll do another reflection post with kids' art later on. But laying out exemplars was a great way to get the big picture of what each grade accomplished. Having these pictures will also help me as I plan next year and decide what to keep or toss or modify to make sure my kids are getting a quality art experience. Year 3 will be even better, I'm sure.
Is reflection part of your end-of-the-year ritual?