Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Tumbling Blocks Create "Movement"

For this project, 4th graders started out at the Smartboard discussing the Tumbling Block quilt pattern, observing the angles, color values, shapes and placement that make the cubes look three-dimensional. In addition to the "art talk" we shared stories about quilts and even about building with blocks and having a little brother come along and remove one from the bottom!! Good opportunity to mention "small moment" stories in writing and quilts' history in our country.

Also on Day one, students used a ruler to lightly draw a border and a ground line to represent a table.

Then, using cake tempera, which they watered down considerably in their palette, kids painted a patterned "wallpaper" background a la Matisse and a solid base color. Since the cubes would be done in colored pencil, which reads somewhat muted, I stressed the necessity of having the background colors soft so that the cubes would stand out and be the focal point for the viewer.
Sorry this is upside down -- Blogger wouldn't accept my rotated version! Although kids could decide to use their painted background this way, too.

Day 2 was all about making the cubes (1 small, 1 medium and 1 large). The first cube was a directed lesson and then kids could draw the other two. The "A" and "B" were on the upper corners to help with verbal directions and getting the lines and angles "right". To reinforce the idea that light source creates the value of the colors of each side of the cube I had a lightbulb icon on a smartboard page (see photo above) that students could move around to demonstrate where the light source was for various quilt examples.

As I walked around the room to help when needed, students used first a regular #2 Dixon Ticonderoga pencil and then colored pencil on top to shade the darkest side of the cube, medium pressure of a colored pencil for the main value and very light pressure for the top of their cubes. We all used the same light source direction for uniformity when these were displayed later.

Next, students cut out their cubes, arranged them on their background, overlapping and tilting them to get the illusion of movement. (We had discussed how to achieve this look.)

We had some left-over painted paper strips in the scrap box, so kids could choose either black or these painted strips to cut into squares and use for the border.

The kids had a lot of fun trying out different ways to make their cubes appear to be tumbling!! I'll post more results as I get them.


  1. Wow, these look really nice! I'll be pinning this! It will be a good review project for my 4th graders to review value when I'm out on maternity leave!

  2. This is a beautiful project. I love it! I will be pinning this one :)