Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Favorites {Cookie Jar Design}

This is a very easy, and fun holiday project that I do nearly every year with Kindergarten and 1st grade.

Since things get so crazy around the holidays and my patience is limited with messy projects, this is a good one because it is a mostly no-fail drawing.

I say no-fail because there is a high chance of success as the students use tracers for a majority of the drawing, adding little details that are hand-drawn and distinguish each artwork. Giving students projects where they can be successful, like this one, takes off some of the pressure when students are not confident in their drawing skills.

To begin, I tell students the story of the Gingerbread man. At my school, there is a kit with a fox puppet head and I have a stuffed Gingerbread man and a gingerbread apron. Sometimes I just tell the story using the props, but I let 1st graders use the props and act it out as I tell the story of the gingerbread man.

I use the 'Run Run, As Fast as You can.....You can't catch me, I'm the gingerbread man' as a call back for the lesson....it is fun to teach them and fun to say. I use the call back when I need to get their attention before transitioning into various steps.

The purpose of the cookie jar project is to trap the gingerbread man inside so he can't escape and get gobbled up by a fox. I usually have a few books like the Ginerbread Friends and Gingerbread Baby books by Jan Brett in the room for 'candy references'. 

Anyway, after the story, I demonstrate how to trace a big cookie jar on a 12X18 sheet of white paper. Students use pencils to trace 'cookie' shapes. I encourage 1st graders to OVERLAP their shapes....I introduce the concept of OVERLAPPING to Kindergarten, but most of them don't really get it yet and are still getting used to the idea of tracing a shape. The little ones also need to be reminded not to let their shapes float out of the jar, they should remain inside that outline.

Tracers include a bell, tree shape, candy cane, star, gingerbread man, and a round shape that could be a chocolate chip cookie, a donut or a big sucker.

After tracing shapes, and adding candy for the faces, and other simple details, students trace their pencil lines in sharpie marker. I always encourage them to go back with an eraser before they start coloring to make sure that the pencil lines are gone.

Tracers, one set for each table
Students color their designs with crayons and in the last few minutes, I give them scissors to cut out the outside shape of the cookie jar. With Kindergarten, I always have to STRESS that they should ONLY cut out the jar, not each cookie.

After cutting out the jar, students glue a strip along the top for the lid (so the gingerbread man can't get out!).

I usually use this lesson as a make-and-take-home project before Christmas...rather than hanging them up to display, I let everyone take it home the same week.

This year, something so cute and funny happened with a kindergartener and his cookie jar. He explained, "My gingerbread man is really old...he's and old man...he needs a cane to walk...a candy cane!"

It was so funny, I shared it with all of my classes while I was demonstrating the basic steps of tracing the shapes inside the jar.

If students finish early, I encourage them to add other candy in the white areas...easy things like gum, skittles, m&ms, or hershey's kisses.

At the very end, if someone gets completely finished, I usually have paper available for them to make a card, and I write "Merry Christmas" on my example card and draw a little Christmas tree on the inside. Few students usually have 'free time.'

Christmas Favorites {Winter Cardinal}

 Since our school mascot is the Cardinal, I am always looking for beautiful cardinal lessons. I do several varieties a year....everything from school spirit cardinal posters to a really cute snow globe I designed a few years ago. (I'll have to get that typed with pictures, it is SO cute!)

This year, I fell in love with the Art Projects for kids watercolor cardinal so much that I decided to try her basic idea with a couple of classes of kindergarten.

Using Kathy's basic steps for drawing, I let the students use a wing tracer in the center of turquoise construction paper.

We used her basic steps, using a pencil to finish drawing the body, legs, eye, 'mohawk', tail etc.

After drawing, students trace over pencils lines with a sharpie, coloring in the black 'mask' around the face. Students could also add a twig....they choose whether the cardinal is flying away from the branch or about to land (depending on which side has the most room).

Students colored the beak and legs with a yellow construction paper crayon, and used a green construction paper crayon on the twig.

I split this lesson into three weeks. The second week, we painted the cardinal red and after everyone was done with red, I set out white paint for snow.

I had to STRESS, rather emphatically with my kindergarteners, NOT to let the two paint colors mix. I didn't even let both paint colors be on the table at the same time.

The third week, students re-outlined their sharpie lines and drew things back on that were gone after painting...like the eye and black mask. This step only took 4-5 minutes.

They are SOOOOO cute!! I can't wait to finish them up with other classes. The painting and drawing could all be done in one week...I just like to split things up sometimes.

Thanks for reading. If you do something similar this winter, I would love for you to post a link in the comments!!

Christmas Favorites {Nutcracker Drawing}

One of my favorite Christmas projects for K and 1st is the Nutcracker drawing. I got the basic steps from Art Projects for Kids. It would be easily adapted to older grades.

Next year, I want to get my hands on the book (illustrated by Maurice Sendak!!) for the lesson. For now, I just tell the story from the ballet, using my nutcracker statue as an example. Some students have been to the ballet, but most know the story from the Barbie cartoon

Uncle Drosselmeyer, godfather of Clara and Fritz....with his eye patch, this one matches the one that I show students.

 Some of the Kindergarten nutcrackers end up looking quite scary!

 This year, I had the kindergarteners draw in pencil, trace in sharpie and color with crayons...all in one 50 minute session.

NOTE: I would definitely split this into a two-week project in the future. By the time they get to coloring, they hardly care enough about the details to finish it really well.

 For 1st grade, I already had tempera paint out for a big kid project, so I decided to let them paint their nutcrackers. In addition to the paint that was available, I prepared jars of peach for the wooden faces and glittery white for the furry beard.

Week 1, draw the nutcracker, trace in sharpie and paint with tempera paint.

Week 2 re-trace sharpie details (like noses and buttons that were covered with paint) Cut out to make an ornament/puppet.

For the display, I put them over red fabric, with a gold paper 'matte'....stunning!

Clay Owls

White clay is colored with construction paper crayons
In the fall, I went to a state convention and saw the most amazing idea for finishing a bisque-fired clay project. The teacher had the students color on their clay with construction paper crayons, and then paint the whole surface with black tempera paint (creating a wax-resist on clay), wiping the paint off so that it just fills in the crevices, leaving the colored areas bright with lots of contrast. I knew it would be perfect for a clay owl project that I do every few years.

I am always looking for single-fired clay projects since I do not have a kiln at my school. When I do clay, I have to pack up all of the (hundreds!) of little clay sculptures, while they are leather hard and haul them to another school, where my mentor fires them and unloads them in and out of the kiln. While I love the look of glaze, it adds several more trips and firings to the whole process. It is a lot of work for me. This also allowed the students to take the project home a whole lot sooner since they were not waiting for it to be glaze fired.

Note: coloring on the clay really chews up your construction paper crayons, so be sure to order plenty if you are doing it with hundreds of kids. ;-)

Materials: white earthenware (bisque fired)
construction paper crayons
tempera paint
After coloring with crayons, students paint over the surface with black paint. It creates amazing contrast with the color!

A Harry Potter owl!

To get those cool eyes, we used repurposed spools of thread to stamp the clay.

I did this project with 2nd, 3rd and 4th grade. The results were stunning. I really did not want to send them home!!