Sunday, May 29, 2016

Stars and Stripes 2016

Whether it is Memorial Day, Veteran's Day or the 4th of July, it is fun to  celebrate the red, white and blue. This is a quick project requiring pastels, paper, paint and a few pieces of cardboard.

Artists use one triangle and chalk to create a five-pointed star. This is good for talk about, not only how you go about positioning the triangle five times to create the star, but also for the starting point of the chalk marks (on the triangle, brushing out) and conversation about the direction you "swipe" the chalk (from the triangle straight out as you work your way around the point of the triangle). It is a good idea to practice this on newspaper first! If you think the triangle method is too hard for you group, this can be done with a full star pattern instead.

After making the initial chalk mark, students swipe the mark again with their finger, smearing the chalk outward, so the star looks like it is shining.
Once the stars are done (I like the kids to make various sizes using small and large triangles), it is time for some stripes.

These were done by dipping the edge of a piece of cardboard (we use scraps of illustration board) in tempera (acrylic works, too) and "printing the stripes". I emphasize, "straight down, straight up" to avoid sideways smears!!

 You can decide whether to have your kids stick with vertical/horizontal stripes like the one above, or let them print however they like, as in the example below.

The motivation for all of this was our local National Veteran's Cemetery (seen across the street from the Federal Building), which is adorned right now with thousands of American flags at the gravesites and along the inner roads. I love driving by this time of year. Hope you all have a meaningful holiday as summer nears!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Fraction Art

3rd Graders have been exploring fractions, so I thought, "Why not throw in a little watercolor to cement the concept of fractions equivalent to one whole?"
To make the process a bit game-like and give the kids a written model to follow, we started by drawing two cards, one for the numerator and the other for the denominator. This would become "their" fraction.

Using grid paper and colored pencils, students used 2 complementary colored pencils to color squares to represent each part of their fraction. I had a color wheel available to teach the concept of opposite colors on the wheel. This lesson was done in small groups so I was able to spend a lot of time using the mathematical vocabulary AND having students use that same vocabulary as they explained to me and each other what they were doing.
When the squares of their "whole" were colored, they cut it out and glued it onto a background. We used 6" X 6" illustration board, but any sturdy paper suitable for watercolor would do.
Next came the watercolor. Students painted shapes that emanated out from their colored pencil areas. This was a good time to talk about brush control and how to lay the brush flat and pull to get straight lines.

 The last step was to write an equation to match their artwork!!

 This was a two day project for most kids, as we let the paint dry before doing the writing, although some groups did it all in one day.