Friday, September 30, 2011

Chalk Pastel Landscapes

Well I know I mentioned in this post, that I was wondering about the relevance of centering an entire project around one single 'element' of art, and I have come to the conclusion, that it is most definitely okay to do that with kindergarteners. They get super excited about simple things....oohing...and aaaahing...about using a black crayon, if you pitch it to them with the right sparkle in your voice.

With this project, I am able to take a simple line drawing and encourage students to create a beautiful work of art. Now, I admit, I sort of stole this idea from School Arts magazine, and made it my own.

Landscapes are such a simple concept for art lovers...but for 5-year-olds, I've  figured out that  I actually have to teach them what a landscape is. Since it is a pretty easy concept, I use this lesson to implement procedures that I will use all year. This is a very successful lesson, that I have taught nearly 100 times (have I mentioned that I have 11 classes of kindergarten and 2 classes of first grade...often I will do this 13 times in one week!)

Below, I will outline my procedures for putting on a paint shirt, using the drying rack, washing hands in the water bucket, and what to do for 'free time' for those that finish early.

To begin the lesson, I show students how to put on paint shirts for the first time. In my classroom, I have a laundry basket full of old janitors shirts, the kind the button up the front. I demonstrate (with a student model) how to put it on backwards, and have a friend put a clothespin on the back, not too high or else it could choke them, and not too low, because they could sit on it!

After observing how to put on the paint shirt, we quickly play a game! I have students play the line game to review the lines that were learned and practiced the week before. To see more about this game, read here

Line Landscape:

1. Say: Today we will be using chalk to create a beautiful landscape. Say that with me: Landscape! Again: Landscape. Not LAMBScape, LANDSCAPE!

2. A landscape is an 'outside scene', I explain as I point to a couple of magazine photos hanging on the board. I point out how there is a horizon line, with purple mountains meeting the sky, and there are beautiful purple flowers, a lake reflecting the sky and that the photo was probably taken in the early morning. I also point out a few other details from other landscapes, found in magazines.

3. Today, we will be using 3 simple lines to make our landscape. A zigzag, a wavy and a straight line. I draw these on the board as I say each one. Then I have students draw each line in the air with their finger.

4. Students get to choose between purple and blue paper. I say, I'm choosing purple because I want mine to be an early morning picture, just like the mountain landscape I showed them. Step One is to use a black crayon to draw a zigzag line. 'What do you think the zig zag line is for?', I ask. 'Mountains!' the class replies. 'Yes, mountains,' I say as I draw the foothills and the straight line at the bottom. Then I add a moon or a sun, clouds and a little stream or road curving from the bottom edge towards the middle.

5. To finish the landscape, we will be using chalk pastels. 'Raise your hand if you have used sidewalk chalk'...'then you know how dusty chalk can be! Well, chalk dust can be very messy and it can stir up kid's allergies, so I put my chalk in a tray with a little bit of water. It is still sort of messy, and cold, and wet, but it keeps the dust from floating up in the air and making kids cough!'

My Demo...I do one in front of every class.
6. I demonstrate how to color the landscape. I show how to layer two colors on the mountains...I explain that some colors don't show up good at first until they dry (like white!), and I explain that if they get a tiny hole in their paper, because a spot of water makes it rip, to leave it alone because I can always tape it on the back next week, after it is dry.

7. Procedure for Drying Rack: When students are finished, they will put their landscape in the drying rack. Usually, this is the first time they have used the drying rack, so I model where it is and explain that they must 'ALWAYS, ALWAYS START AT THE BOTTOM', I have them chant that with me a few times.

8. Procedure for Water Bucket: 'Once your painting is in the drying rack, you will need to wash your fingers. Over here, we have the water buckets. (I don't let my kinders use the sink, see why here). I have a GIRLS water bucket and a BOYS water bucket. There are two sponges in each bucket.....That means two girls can wash their hands at the same time...and two boys can wash their hands at the same time! If there are already two girls in the bucket, you must wait in line behind them being careful not to touch anyone or anything with your messy fingers while you wait.

9. I point out how to get a paper towel and wash hands, and where the trash cans are. 'Only after your paper is in the drying rack, and your hands are clean should you take off your paint shirt!'

10. If someone finishes early, they might have a chance to color a paper to take home today. Somewhere in the room, I have a copy of the 'Starry Night' by Vincent Van Gogh. I have students try to find it...then I show that they can color a 'coloring sheet' copy of it with crayons. Students should not use the chalk to color it, I put the copies near crayon baskets, that they can get for their table.

12. After demonstrating everything, and modeling the procedures, I am ready to distribute materials. I have 3 tables start putting on paint shirts (without my help, I've just modeled it for them, I let them try it alone.) The other three tables stay where they are as I go around and let them choose between purple and blue paper. I distribute the black crayons and then assist with putting on paint shirts, while at the same time, I'm constantly saying things like: "When you make your zig zag line, make sure it goes from one side to the other!' and "Draw three lines, zig zag, wavy and straight...then add your other details."  As the paint-shirt students start sitting down, I begin giving them their papers and letting the ones who have been drawing get up to put on their paint shirts.

13. As soon as everyone has their paint shirts on, and are finished drawing, I remind them to PUT THEIR NAMES ON THE BACK. I check each table for names, before I hand them their tray of chalk. Then I say, 'Everyone say this with me: ew, sick disgusting!' Now they have all said 'ew, sick, disgusting about the wet chalk, they are not allowed to say those words again!
Not a 'landscape'....but it is a cool line design!

14. I monitor as students work....pointing out that they don't have to color the sky, because the sky can be left the color of the paper....but they do have to color everything else. Biggie: STUDENTS MUST COLOR ALL THE WAY FROM THE ZIG ZAG TO THE WAVY LINE. Otherwise, they will leave a big patch uncolored, and the zigzag line area doesn't look like mountains.

Sometimes I use 'non' examples to encourage kids to follow directions. But, often, those are my favorites
15. Students often need help putting papers in the drying rack. I don't let them handle the chalk trays, because the water I have to pick those up from each table....and I have to monitor the water buckets so that students do not play around, or drink the water....Weird I know, but I've looked over to see those handwashing sponges hanging out of kids' mouth's before! I've also seen kids dipping their head into the water so that their hair gets wet, or using the water buckets as their own personal bath tub, washing up to their armpits! I've also had many instances of water fights and serious splashing issues!

16. When students line up at the end, I use that time to point out Vincent's painting (usually above my door) and I have them point to their own copy: the moon, the cypress tree, the church, the swirling night sky.

 Thanks for reading!!

Circle Paintings as a Sub Plan

Normally, I would NEVER, NEVER, NEVER leave a painting project with substitute.

Okay, I would definitely never leave a KINDERGARTEN painting project with a sub.....

and I WOULD NEVER leave a kindergarten painting project with a sub on THE FIRST DAY OF PAINTING......but....

This year, I realized one a Thursday night that I would have to be gone the next day, there was absolutely no getting around it...and it was too late to come up with a whole new plan, and besides it would totally screw up my careful lesson planning (which I've already got my plans 'penciled in' in my planner through January) I typed up the 'kindergarten painting' sub plan and dropped it off in my classroom around 9:30 that night....and made sure that everything was set up and ready for the sub.....

And you know what? Everything turned out alright!

Here is what I left for the case you ever need an emergency sub was great for beginning of the year, kindergarten or 1st grade...I recently read a post 'Be Nice to Your Subs' by an art teacher who gave lots of great tips for preparing for a sub, be sure to check it out!

Shape Painting

1.     Explain that today we will be painting. (The kids will be very excited!)
2.     Point out the painting examples on the board.
3.     Say: We will be painting today but first, I would like to play a game.
4.     There is a stack of laminated shapes on the pink table by the board. Hold one shape up for each table, ask: “What shape is this?’ “How many sides does it have?’ “How many corners does it have?”(One shape for each table: square, triangle, rectangle, circle, oval, rhombus or diamond)
5.     After the shape game, demonstrate how to trace circles on the big white paper taped to the board using some big and little circles. Explain that when one shape covers another shape, that is called overlapping. Have students say ‘overlapping’ out loud. Point to the shape that is made when two circles overlap. Explain that that area is now a new shape. When we are painting the shapes, the ‘overlapped’ area should be a different color than the two circles.
6.     Demonstrate how to make big and little circles on the paper, overlapping and making a few go off of the paper.
7.     Demonstrate how to paint the paper.
a.     Select a light color like yellow, to use this paint, you have to get it wet like watercolor paint, use yellow in one spot, but do not rinse your brush. Continue using yellow all over the paper, in different shapes or overlapped areas.
b.     When you switch colors, you have to rinse your brush very good. Now select another color, like orange. Paint orange in a few areas. 
c.      When students are painting, make sure that they do not TAP their brushes on the side of the bucket, show them what ‘not’ to do. When they tap, that makes the water splatter on other’s paintings and messes up other student’s artwork. Instead, drag the brush gently on the edge of the bucket.
d.     Students may use any color they want in any spot they want, being careful not to put the same color right beside itself. Also, white doesn’t show up good….and they should save BLACK for LAST because it dirties up the water bucket quickly.

8.     After you are done painting all of the shapes on your paper, have 3 teams start putting on paint shirts while the other 3 teams start drawing the circles. This way, you can pass out the supplies and help both groups and the paint shirt area isn’t too crowded.
9.     Once everyone has gotten their paint shirts on, and they are done drawing the circles MAKE SURE THEY WRITE THEIR NAME ON THE BACK BEFORE THEY START PAINTING.
10. Pass out the paint sets and the water buckets to every table.  Remind them to use their first color in several spots, before rinsing out their brush. Assist students as necessary to make sure they are not tapping brushes, hat they are not mixing colors, and they are trying to stay inside the lines of the circles. Encourage them to paint a variety of colors.
11. When students are finished, they should put their papers in the drying rack, we always, always start at the bottom.  There are enough ‘sides’ on the drying rack for each class to fill up one whole side. Please label the classes in the drying racks so I can grade them when I get back on Monday.
12. If they need to wipe off their fingers, they may use the water buckets to do so, only then should they take off their paint shirts.
13. If time allows, point out the ‘shape’ sheet on the red table. Students who have dried off their table may grab a shape coloring sheet and a basket of crayons, they can color it to take home.
14. If you find that you have a LOT of time at the end with a class, you can let them cut out the shapes, but you probably won’t have time for that.

I’m attaching my procedure information, please read over how I mark stars...the kids are mostly trained, but it is still early in the year, and this is the first time we are painting! As always, my seating charts are on the black table by the board.

Painting checklist before-you-paint: (for the sub)
·Fill water buckets about ¼ full
· Make sure each bucket has 4 paint brushes
· Fill hand washing buckets with lukewarm water and a tiny bit of soap, each should have 2 sponges for washing
·  Fill a water bucket to use for the demonstration at the front of the room and put a paint set on the pink table to use….also, hang a white paper on the board for the demonstration

Painting checklist: after you paint (for the sub)
· Put up chairs
·  empty water buckets and lay brushes out to dry (don’t forget the ‘teacher’ demonstration bucket)
· Empty hand washing buckets and squeeze out sponges, laying then out to dry

Perhaps I go a bit overboard, typing up a checklist and such detailed instructions, but I know subbing in art can be daunting to substitute teachers. Along with this written lesson plan, I leave visuals on the board, a copy of classroom procedures and my schedule.

For this project students used tempera cakes, but watercolors would've worked just as easily!

I displayed the results along with the 'line designs' from earlier this year. A 'Line and Shape' display, it is really colorful and beautiful. I can't even tell which paintings were done with the sub and which were done under my careful instructions. I love how each person interpreted the same instructions differently. Some didn't follow the directions exactly, but the results were still beautiful.


Friday, September 2, 2011

Lines: To be or not to be.

A simple hand-drawn line poster to reinforce lines used in art class.
My 5th grade brother said something this week that I think is worth noting as an art educator. He said, "Nellie, I wish you would've taken the art teacher job at my school. Since Mr. Tanner retired, we got a new girl this year and she is making us do very babyish projects.'

Gage is very anti-baby anything, he thought the movie Where the Wild Things Are was babish, so I asked him what he meant by that. He said that she was making them do projects using LINES.

Gasp! Lines are babyish? To a fifth-grader, lines probably are babyish. And boring.

Immediately I knew that his art teacher has either recently graduated...or she was in school around the same time I education curriculum at the university level is very interesting to me.

My mentor teacher graduated about 15 years ago and at that time the emphasis was on multicultural curriculum and she infuses lots of culture and art history into her curriculum.

Other art teachers who have graduated either just after my mentor teacher or just before I started, seem to have a big background in the elements and principles. I don't have any hard numbers or facts, I've just sort of noticed this trend in talking with colleagues. 

Pencil tray, lid to a plastic shoe box. Stacks easily.

When I graduated, about 7 years ago, the emphasis was on D.B.A.E. (Discipline Based Art Education). I don't organize my lessons to conform to the aesthetics, art criticism, art production, and art history as put forth in the Getty Model....

I think art is different than other subjects and the art experience has to be more fulfilling than say the mathematics experience. In college, when it came to designing lesson plans my education department forced everyone to conform to the Madeline Hunter model I have done a bit of studying on the new push to improve arts education using 'the big idea' which makes a lot of sense but its difficult to wrap my brain around this method since I teach so many sections of kindergarten, it would challenging to implement.

After Gage said that LINES were BABYISH, It made me wonder how many times teachers fall back on the elements and principles to drive their art curriculum...and how that effects student interest in art.

It made me wonder if kids would be able to connect to art on a much richer level if more art history were incorporated, as much as possible, with less of an emphasis on the elements and principles. Perhaps there is no perfect art will never please every student with every project, but I do hope my brother gets to do some fun stuff this year. Maybe he just needs an attitude adjustment, a little bit of a challenge, or something really fun to spark his enthusiasm.

I definitely use the elements and principals because they are emphasized in the Missouri Grade Level Expectations for Art at the Kindergarten Level...and well, you have to start somewhere with probably kids who have no experience with art. A basic lesson about lines is a great starting point for 5-year-olds because it is sort of a jumping off point....projects incorporating shapes generally follow because they are learning their shapes in their classrooms and it is a great reinforcement to use shapes in art.

Below is the project I do with my kindergarten (and sometimes first) grade classes the third week of school. Generally, there is a short week because of Labor not every class will do this project. But I make up enough strips so that if I need to be gone, I can use it for a sub plan for the classes that missed art due to the holiday, later in the year.

Classroom organization: use a box flat to separate papers by class.
I admit, I saw this lesson on another blog....but I do not know where. I am not the original author. If someone leaves a comment with the link, I will add it here.  

Explain that nearly every week in art, we would be using lines. We can make lines with chalk, crayons, marker, with a paint brush, etc. Point out the line poster and draw lines on the board: zig zag, wavy, straight, rainbow, curly-q, spiral.

I thought it would be fun to play a couple of games using lines. Let’s play the line hunt game: Find lines around the room, use the line poster to pick out different types of lines: straight, zig zag, wavy, curly-q, spiral, rainbow line. Have students quietly point to a straight line found in the floor tiles, concrete wall bricks, ceiling tiles, etc. Have students point to wavy lines, around the room. Try to spot spirals and have students point to places where they see spirals. 

Let’s play another game. Have students stand up. Play the line game: make different types of line with their bodies: zig-zag (walk like an Egyptian), vertical, horizontal, diagonal, diagonal the other way (arms out like an airplane, tilted in both directions), wavy arms, rainbow line, upside down rainbow, crazy spiral….just stretch it out for a few minutes, repeating each line several times. Here are some images of the various lines in the game.
         Line game. Top row: 1. Vertical 2. horizontal 3. Diagonal 4. Diagonal the other way                                                        Bottom 1. Zig zag, 2. wavy 3. Spiral  4. Rainbow Line
Have students sit down. Explain that we are going to use lines to make a design. Explain that each table will get the color that matches their table: red getst red, blue gets blue, etc.

a.     Demonstrate how use the buckets to find a variety of colored strips.
b.     Write name on back of black paper in pencil. Lay the colored strips out on the black paper. Try to use a variety of colors. Students could also glue a strip to the back and write their name on it in sharpie if you don't want to pass out pencil trays. ;-)
c.      Use glue sticks to adhere strips to front of the black paper. Remind students not to eat the glue or smear too much or tear up the glue sticks. I also explain that the glue needs to make a 'skid mark' on the strip or else there won't be enough glue...the paper will fall off.
d.     Demonstrate how to use sharpies to draw different types of lines on each strip. Say: do not take the sharpie and scribble all over the paper. On each strip, draw a different type of line. Demonstrate a different line on each strip, use my examples as a reference.
Once you have demonstrated how to do all the steps, pass out the buckets, then the black papers and pencils for names, then the glue sticks, and lastly, the sharpies. You may have to go around the room coaching students about how to ‘draw’ the line designs on the strips of paper. Sometimes they don’t really understand what to do with the marker.

Save their creations, either show them how to put their papers in the drying rack, starting at the bottom, or stack them, making sure the really ‘gluey ones don’t stick together.

If time allows, use the line drawing example to show students how to draw an underwater scene to take home.  It is important that students can draw a line all the way across the paper. Demonstrate how to put a wavy line at the top, straight line at the bottom, spirals can be turned into snails….a rainbow line can become a jelly fish…and students can add a zig-zag line for seaweed. IF they have lots of time left, let them draw other things like fish, sharks, spongebob, etc. 
Example of drawing at the end, if time allows.
Supplies needed for this lesson: buckets/tubs with colored strips--one per table, use a variety of colors in each bucket, colored construction paper cut into 1X6 strips, Glue sticks, Pencils, Black 6 X 12 paper, Sharpies, White paper for free time