Sunday, May 24, 2015

Flags for Country

It always amazes me that volunteers (including Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts) place each and every one of these little American flags at the 114 acre Los Angeles National Cemetery. They read each of the nearly 87,000 names (including my grandfather, who served in WWI) and offer a salute as they place the flags. The first internment here was May 11, 1889.

Enjoy your week-end --- it's almost summer:))

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Lots of Dots in Kindergarten

Here are some lovely little kindergarten paintings drying. They will soon be tucked away until their big August reveal!!

At the same time as this painting is going on,  I am also starting to box up supplies to get ready for the school's BIG summer cleaning. We have new protocols this year that call for packing up anything not stored in a closed cupboard. It will be nice to have everything really clean, but right now it feels like getting ready to move!!! That is a whole story unto itself!

Meanwhile, in planning for an art display in our Auditorium to kick off the 2015-16 school year, Kindergarteners are painting lots of dots:)) This is so we'll be ready to celebrate International Dot Day (Sept. 15th), based on Peter H. Reynolds' book, The Dot.

I have done lessons like this before with 4th graders (with a little more color wheel art content included). You can check that out HERE. I originally found out about Dot Day from Hope Hunter Knight's blog back in 2012  -- thank you, Hope!!. You can find a link to her dot lesson through the above link. 

This week I started talking a bit with kindergarteners about the book and how Vashti started by just making a mark and then her art grew and grew.

We took a look at some different kinds of lines that markers can make and gave the lines names. Some of the kids' names were:
        " Wavy"
        "Mountain tops"
        "Train-tracks" . . .   You get the idea:)

Using a black permanent Sharpie I demonstrated how to make concentric circles, one a "skinny pathway" and the next a larger space for painting. Students followed along.

Then they either used line patterns from our chart or made up their own lines to fill their "skinny pathways."

I had them come back to the rug to talk about using "Mr. Brush" so that our brushes would last a long time. I share with them that I have one set of watercolor brushes that have been used at our school for over 50 years -- TRUE STORY!!

I showed them how to clean their brushes between changing colors and test to see if they are clean by running the brush along the top of their hand to see if the water is clear.

Then it was back to their table to paint all the large circles between the black and white pathways.

Love the asymmetry of the middle piece!!

The girl on the left spent a lot of time mixing the colors in the lower left part of her work using her finger.

This little guy didn't quite get the idea of leaving alternate areas blank for the paint and filled them all with patterns. He was so intent on what he was doing I didn't have the heart to stop him!!

Of course, you'll have to check back in August to see all our dots displayed. By then all these boxes I am packing now will be unpacked and we'll all be ready for a brand new school year!!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Kindergarteners and Kandinsky

Earlier this year our Kindergarteners made their own renditions of Kandinsky's Squares and Concentric Circles -- you know, the one we all try with kids sooner or later. Well, this week we are taking a look at another Kandinsky work, Circles in a Circle. Here are a few of ours drying in the sun.

And here is a sort of grainy shot of the Kandinsky from the Smartboard. Sorry for the quality of my picture:(
We talked about how many circles we saw, how many lines, size and colors of circles, directions of lines, etc.

Then the fun began. I had prepared part of the large circle with a crayon line for kids to cut to finish it up. I wanted them to practice cutting, but, from experience,  I knew doing the whole drawing and cutting on the fold thing might be too much for the time we had allotted.  They glued their circle on their boards (9" X 12" illustration board - but paper would be fine, too).

I know, this isn't a circle. It was my first sample and it's an oval -- that works, too!!

To decide how many circles to draw inside, we rolled dice at each work table (and drew that many with washable markers - I like Crayola brand markers for this) -- some large, some small, some within other circles - all drawn freehand. I heard LOTS of counting and comparing going on during this part of the lesson!! Using primary colored crayons, kids colored a few circles. Then they drew some straight lines - also with washable marker.

Finally, out came the paint brushes and students gently painted plain water over their marker lines to blur them and get a "painterly" look.

So, what skills did these little ones practice: cutting, gluing (a dot is a lot), drawing (shape, line), color choice and placement (balance, repetition), using a straight edge, use of a paintbrush (we still have a ways to go before we get that all right!!).

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Spring Fingerprint Snapdragons

Tints and Shades
Last week our 1st graders created half of their mixed media still life paintings. You can see how they made their vases, table tops and backgrounds here. This week, after discussing how you can see where the sunlight hits part of the blossoms, we broke out the liquid tempera and children got busy with their index fingers.
  I shared Lois Ehlert's, Feathers for Lunch, and we searched for examples of where she used tints in her flowers.
You may notice that I put the white on a separate, disposable plate, as some tables got their paint pretty messed up by the end of the hour.
 I demonstrated how to use JUST ONE FINGER to make the snapdragon blossoms. Children had 5 "color wheel" colors plus white. They dipped into the color first and then into the white before printing. We call this "double dip painting". They started printing at the bottom of each stem and went to its left, then right, left, right, etc. until reaching the top where the blossoms taper off. They went back and added prints or more white (for highlights) as needed. I had newspaper spread under their work, so before switching colors, kids just wiped their finger on it so that their finger was ready to dip into a new color. (This really worked. The paint colors stayed perfectly "clean" all week long!!)
 Probably the hardest part for some was making sure that their stem extended down "into the vase", that is, to the bottom part of the oval depicting the vase's inside. Otherwise the flowers look like they are floating in air. We talked about this in each class.
 These spring blossoms definitely brighten up an otherwise rather bland hallway!!!!! I think we'll keep them there for awhile!!:))

Friday, April 17, 2015

Spring Still Life - 1st Grade

This is the first week of a two-week project to welcome Spring. There are many great still life paintings out there on the web for children to examine and talk about -- take your pick and show them your favorite artists to kick things off. I had a real vase positioned on a piece of fabric for kids to compare with a painting of a flower vase. I asked, "What did the artist do to make the vase look realistic?"

 Hands shot up and kids saw everything I was hoping they would see!! Comments were: "The artist made a "circle" at the top of the vase (not everyone remembered the word "oval" so I wrote that word on the board), "The vase has a light side where the sunlight is hitting it", "There's dark shading on the shadow side", "The bottom of the vase is curved like the oval", and my favorite, "The table looks like it goes behind the vase so it looks like you can just walk up and pick up the vase with your hand."  Are these children observant or what!!!??!!

Then, using oil pastels, I did a directed lesson to get them started with the vase. (Start with drawing an oval in the center of the board. Add sides and bottom and color in everything BUT the oval. Make a vertical black strip on one side, and a matching white strip on the other side. Blend all layers together with curved, horizontal strokes, using the original color of pastel. (You can find a similar lesson with details and photos HERE.)The hardest part for little ones is to get that horizontal direction of their pastels as they blend the black, color and white together smoothly. I do a lot of walking around and assisting during that portion of the lesson. 

Next, they added a simple plaid, fabric table cloth using whatever colors they liked. ( I modeled how to do this, too.)

A few stems were added to get ready for the flowers that they will add with paint next week.
 The last step was to add 2 colors of chalk/pastels and smear it with their fingers for the subtle background.

Stay tuned for vases full of snapdragons next week:))

Friday, April 10, 2015

Spring Break Winding Down

We are just wrapping up the end of a two week spring break out here in California. I started this week with a short stack of mysteries to read.
 The weather has waffled between perfect, gorgeous tour-bus like sunshine and gloomy showers. Yes, we really have these Starline tour buses in our neighborhood now!! What is that?? Thought they were only in Hollywood and Beverly Hills!!
This shower caused a delay of game for the second day of baseball season.
 But, that rainy interlude was perfect for kicking back in front of the fire and finishing off those books I had planned to read.

I finished Night, Night, Sleep Tight by Hallie Ephron last night. Set in the 1980s and 1960s in the Beverly Hills/Hollywood area, this is a suspenseful thriller that kept me guessing right up to the final pages. The kernel of the story was a real-life "Hollywood" crime story that took place in the late 50s, which I well remember. The book is packed with references to local haunts (many of which are still here) and that took me right back high-school days and memories I had long forgotten. What a treat!!
Finishing up Night, Night, Sleep Tight.
So, it's back to teaching on Monday, and as I close this last book my thoughts are turning towards lesson planning. See you next week with a fun new project:))

Monday, March 30, 2015

Lines in a Ring

 Taking our cue from Kandinsky's "Circles in a Circle", first graders created "Lines in a Ring" last week. I started and ended the lesson with Jeanette Winter's, Henri's Scissors, a great little book about Matisse's collages.

I started by showing kids how to work with their desk partner to fold a piece of paper so that the corners remain together and the fold is even. One person holds the 2 matched corners and the other does a "finger walk" from the open end down to the fold and then creases right and left. (Sorry I didn't get a photo of this process -- it's easier than it sounds!!) Even with my warning and demonstrating AND emphasizing to start and end ON THE FOLD, we had a few who had to re-do!!!

 Then we used painted papers from the previous week to cut and position creative lines. Students worked on the back side, so the hardest thing to remember here was to put the dot of glue on the ends of the PAINTED side of the paper strips. They also put a dot of glue between the intersecting lines.

 The last step was to choose a color on which to mount their creation:))

 Looks like this batch chose yellow or blue backings -- I actually had lots of color choices available. 

It was fun to see how students attacked the arrangement of their lines. Some were symetrical all the way and others embraced asymetrical or totally random.