Saturday, November 16, 2013

Contest Update

Today was the award ceremony for Polk County Family Week. Both of my students placed! 
My fourth grade student won honorable mention in the 3-6 grade category.
My second second grade student won second place in the K-2 division. 
I am extremely proud of both of these little artists!

Sewn Monsters

I have succeeded in creating a tradition at my school! My second grade students are extremely excited when announce to them that we are going to be creating stuffed texture monsters. They have seen the artwork from previous years' students and are amazed that I will let them use needles to actually sew! It comes to them as a surprise, however, just how long this process takes. I read one of my favorite books to them, Leonardo the Terrible Monster. This year worked out particularly well as our school was in the midst of celebrating Red Ribbon Week where we talk about how to avoid drug use and bullying. Students discussed how Leonardo changed his ways to become a wonderfully friendly monster. Next, we start with the design.
Students folded their manila paper in half for two reasons. #1. The folded paper gives the students two spaces on the front and the back of the paper so they can try out multiple ideas. #2. The smaller format helps me budget the felt for making the actual monsters. 

On day two the students carefully cut their monster designs from the paper. They selected a color of felt for the monster body and traced their template onto the felt with Sharpie. Next, they used scrap felt to make monster features. 

I took the monsters home and used my sewing machine to quickly stitch the features to the design. (The first year I did this project, we glued the features. The felt got stiff from the glue, and the features still fell off!) The next year I tried to have the students sew the features on, but that just added way too much time to the process. I'm happy to spend a little bit of my time sewing the little eyes and noses and what not on. I tell my students that they have to do super great work on this project because of the additional time that I have invested in it! Even though I don't mind this task, I hope to find a volunteer parent to help me with this for next year. 150 monsters in one week can be draining!

On day three we discussed the artwork of Jessie Oonark. I found an image of one of her felt artworks in my stash and thought it was a perfect tie in to the materials that we were using. The kids loved deciphering the story that Jessie was telling in her work. It gave us a chance to further discuss the materials that we are using and to tie this project into the theme of "Earth, without 'art' is just 'eh.'"

These monsters are some of my favorites from my Monday class.
Next week we will cover the safety rules for using a sewing needle and begin sewing around the monsters. Some students have already said that they are afraid they may get hurt from the needle. Like all of our tools though, if we use them as they are meant to be used and respect them, they will not hurt us. I also believe that if they accidentally prick their finger they will learn that they need to be more careful. After all, I like them too much than to deny them the opportunity to make a mistake. I anticipate that they will need two, maybe three more art periods to finish sewing around, stuffing, and closing up their monsters. I hope they will be ready to put on display at our Winter Arts Festival.

Job chart update

We have to constantly adapt and change as teachers!
The art studio job chart started like this.
The job chart works! Every student has a job in the art studio and seems to take more responsibility for their materials and their space. During a walk through observation my principal noticed how the students were clamoring out of their seats see what their job would be for the day. The chart was small and hard to read from all areas of the room. As suggested I enlarged the chart and created what you see below. My students have learned what each job function is, so they no longer require the descriptions (though I do verbally remind them from time to time.) I made the four large job monsters and gave them each a number badge that coincides with the number at each table. I move the number badges each week to give the students equal opportunity for their favorite jobs. 

A new monster sized job chart!

3-D Paper Still-Life

Sometimes the best ideas come to us at the spur of the moment and cannot be planned. My favorite kindergarten project this year came from being flexible and accommodating to my students. It started with the inspiration of Frida Kahlo in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month and finding shapes in her beautiful still-life paintings. The plan was to create a mixed media collage, cutting paper fruit shapes, arranging and gluing them and then adding paint over the still-life. I knew I would have to tweak the lesson for one of my new students who is blind. Since she was not able to see the artwork of Kahlo, I provided her with a basket of faux fruit to feel and to identify the fruit and the forms. I decided that it might be more enjoyable for her to make three dimensional fruits rather than flat paper shapes.

First, each student labeled a paper lunch bag with their name to store their fruits. We created an apple from red paper by crumbling a red paper into a ball or spherical form. The students decided they could do the same to orange paper for another type of fruit. Students had to decide how to make the crescent banana shape from yellow paper. Many students decided to twist and crumple their paper in a linear way. We talked about how grapes are typically served in a bunch. We created the bunch by tearing, scrunching and twisting paper to make the vine. Students decided that they would need to make smaller pieces of paper to make the grapes so that they were not the same size as the orange or the apple. Each fruit was stored in the labeled lunch bag until we had a container to put them in. I loved how the kids acted as if they were shopping when they were filling their bags with their fruit.

Another day we made a bowl to put the fruit in. We cut the corners from a rectangle of paper, then estimated where the middle of the paper was. Students cut a vertical line to the estimated center of the paper. We overlapped the paper where it was cut and glued to make a shallow cone shape. Next, we glued a strip of paper to make a ring (like the rings in an advent chain) that we glued to the bottom of the bowl for added support. I also tried to make woven paper cornucopias to store the fruit. This worked with a few classes, but with some of the larger classes it was hard to reach all students and help them succeed at paper weaving.

The final day was used to glue the fruit into the bowl and add details. We are going to use these for center pieces at our annual Turkey Luncheon.

Paper Mache

Paper mache all starts with the paste! I prefer to use a cooked flour paste. I like the smooth texture and how inexpensive it is to make. I made the paste by following this recipe. I added a few drops of peppermint extract because I think it smells much nicer than just cooked flour. 

Mr. Potato Head, my faithful kitchen assistant, has gathered all of the supplies.

My secret ingredient is peppermint extract. The whole art room smells fantastic when we are working!
The paste is cooked and cooling.

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month we have been looking at the mask traditions of Carnival in Puerto Rico. Students are using balloon bases, and working in groups to create masks inspired by the traditional masks of the island commonwealth. We've discussed three dimensional forms in the artwork as they made cones for horns, and crumpled paper spheres for eyes. Students also cut flat shapes from card board for ears and other features. 

The project will continue as they add more layers of paper mache and design the color scheme for the mask. I hope they will be ready in time for our winter art festival.