Thursday, November 29, 2012

Collage Cats

Last month 4th graders followed the lead of vintage collage artist Denise Fiedler (see her website here) to collage dogs from recycled newspaper and construction paper scraps. This month 3rd graders tried their hand at it producing cats.

We started with a Smartboard lesson where students identified the basic geometric shapes they could see in cats, outlining the shapes with the whiteboard markers.

Then, following some basic steps on the board, children cut and pasted to make their kitties. They still had photos of cats to use as reference on the Smartboard, and, of course, many had pets or cats they knew that influenced their choices of eye color, collars, etc.

It was really fun for those who got to decorating collars and naming their pretend pets with tags hanging from the collars.

The last class had some extra time due to rainy day schedule so their artwork had lots of details -- unfortunately, I sent the artwork out the door with the kids without getting any photos of that batch -- ah, well, next time!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Tints and Shades with Jingle Bells

Getting ready for the holiday season, I found a package of ribbon that I bought in bulk at Costco YEARS ago. I was so tired of using it for wrapping that I started thinking about how to get rid of it that is, put it to good use at school. And thus, the jingle bell project began.

I have some real jingle bells for kids to look at, but also found a good image of colored bells on Oriental Trading Company's website. Blown up on the Smartboard, they are a vibrant reference with highlights and shadows. Students have worked with oil pastels before making tints and shades, so that part isn't new. This study also introduces the idea of using analogous colors for back shading and variety, as the bells have reflections from lights and surrounding objects.

Rather than try to sketch in the black cut-out spaces, I find it easier to color the bell as a sphere, with several layers of oil pastel, creating the highlights and shading. This can either be a short task or a long, thoughtful one, depending on the observation skills of your kids!! Once the sphere looks "real" it is just a matter of drawing the black spaces in with the black oil pastel.
After cutting out the jingle bell, kids glue it on a contrasting color of cardstock with the pieces of ribbon and use the side of scrap cardboard to stamp the pine needles with tempera or acrylic. Voila!!
ps. We aren't really doing this BEFORE Thanksgiving, just getting ready.
Happy Thanksgiving to all!!!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Santa Monica Seascapes

While much of the country is under a blanket of snow, it is still pretty nice here at the beach. (Truth be told, we do have a trace of rain today, though.) 3rd graders finished up their multi-media Seascapes, adding people, sailboats, etc. to their work. We did the painting part of the seascape last week (HERE).
The glue is drying on these five. I am thinking that this would be a great collaborative project for a long bulletin board!!!
After demonstrating the difference size makes in giving the illusion of depth, I asked students to make at least one object to place in the background (near the horizon line), mid-ground (in the waves) and foreground (on the beach), making sure to vary the sizes. It was fun watching kids generate ideas and share them with their friends. I'd say that most children understood the concepts, but some could still use some more practice implementing the skills. Either way, their seascapes are charming!!

I loved the person diving (feet up) and the person relaxing on the chaise lounge under the umbrella on the left AND the cruise ship the girl on right added!!! We don't see many cruise ships off our coast:))

Friday, November 2, 2012

Let the Seascape Paintings Begin!!

While many folks on the east coast are suffering through extreme weather problems, I am almost embarrassed to say that Southern California has barely begun to feel the beginnings of Fall. Actually, it pretty much still seems like summer in our little beach town. So, this week we started a seascape painting.
Using the Smartboard, I began each class with a quick "Hang Spider" game (just like Hangman, only we form a spider hanging from a web instead of a hanging person) with the secret word being "beach." Next, I shared the following selection from a book I was reading a few weeks ago. It was a perfect launching place for us to discuss what the beach often looks like on a nice day:

                           The beach is crowded with color, humming with motion,
                            dappled with sun and shadow. It's windy, but that
                            just makes the waves sparkle and dance.  One of
                            those days you get a glimpse of where Monet was
                            coming from.
                                 from Face Time by Hank Phillippi Ryan
3rd Graders had questions about the underlined parts of the paragraph, so this was a perfect opportunity to integrate language, writing and Monet!! After our discussion I had kids close their eyes so they could visualize the scene while I re-read the passage. (I'll use this text again next week when we add people, boogie boards, beach balls, etc. to our seascapes.)
I shared a bunch of beach photos like those above. It was the next best thing to being down on the beach ourselves! We discussed the difference between the blues in the sky and the blue-greens and darker hues of the water. I also used my "Mr. Brush" chart as we talked about care and cleaning of our brushes. In this project we used 3 different paints and brush types, so I modeled the use of each throughout the lesson.
Watercolors, white acrylic paint and tempera paint.

Students started by drawing a single white crayon line for their horizon line (this helps them see where the sky ends and the sea begins when they are painting). They used the side of crayons to quickly shade in a beach area in their foreground and then the painting began. They filled one of the compartments in their watercolor tray lid with water, tinted it with blue and painted their sky.

Next, they added more water to the tray and mixed whatever colors they wanted for their ocean. I find one of the hardest things for young children to judge is how much water to put in the tray to be able to cover their painting areas, so I circulate quickly to answer those questions.

When kids were finished with this watercolor phase, I showed them how to quickly clean their paint trays using their dry paper towel and we put those paints and brushes aside so they could switch to white acrylic paint and sturdy synthetic brushes used to stipple ( a new term for them) on the waves. Students could use the ends of skinny plastic paintbrushes to "dot" on the sunlight glinting on the water if they wanted.

A final step for the classes that had enough time was to use white tempera to "splatter" on some paint to make it look like the waves were splashing up water. This is ALWAYS a popular step for "more active" students !!!

Here are a few examples drying. I had more paintings than I had drying racks, so we had to put some outside to dry. Next week, when kids have added all the fun details, I'll post our results.