Friday, December 20, 2013

1st Grade Space Adventures

This project has been finished for a while, but I'm just now getting around to posting it. It's a project that I've been doing for several years and there are other examples of it on my blog. I do this one a month or two into the year because it is a great way to have students practice multiple skills. This involves design, painting, coloring, cutting, and gluing. A big part of my first several projects in first grade is simply getting the students used to tools, materials, and procedures that they'll be using in the art room. 

My favorite part of this project is the spaceships that the students make. They come up with some really unique ideas. I usually post the lesson plan, but this is so simple that I'll just list the steps here. 

  1. Check out cool pictures of spaceships and watch an awesome space shuttle launch. 
  2. Each student uses construction paper to create a space ship.
  3. On 12x18 paper, students draw at least three planets and color them using crayons or colored pencils. 
  4. The "space" part is painted with black tempera. 
  5. Stars are painted on using the handle end of a paintbrush.
  6. The spaceship is glued on to finish. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

5th Grade Keith Haring Style Posters

I like to collaborate with other teachers in the building in order to create lessons that encompass knowledge from multiple sources. This happens to be one of those projects, but in a somewhat strange way. The phys-ed teacher walked into my room at the beginning of the year and just gave me a look. When I asked what was up, she explained that one of her new requirements this year was for her 5th grade students to make posters about being physically active. What? I understood her look at this point. Apparently this makes total sense to Ohio lawmakers who know oh so much about building appropriate curriculum. 

Anyway, I told her that I'd be happy to help out. In the past, I've used a lesson about Keith Haring as a way for students to create a poster about social issues. I ask them to build their image in a way that does not require any words for the viewer to understand the message in the artwork. I simply adapted that lesson for physical activity. 

I think the results came out pretty nice. My students really connected with Haring's bright, simple figures. Check out my regular social issue Keith Haring lesson here!

Friday, December 13, 2013

4th Grade CD Snowflake Mosaics

4th grade has again totally rocked out these recycled CD snowflakes. This is one of those "sure thing" projects that 90% of kids totally knock out of the park. It looks spectacular on display and uses up a nice stack of ancient software CDs that I have sitting in my classroom. 

This project has even been featured by another blogger as a "Top Winter Art Project." A commenter said on that blog that she wouldn't ever have 4th graders do this project because it is FAR TOO DANGEROUS. Well, danger is my middle name. In a little place I call reality, this isn't at all a dangerous project. I have over 100 4th graders and not one of them even were cut by the CDs. It is all about teaching students how to respect the materials and use them correctly. It's just plastic after all. 

My students really enjoy this project. If you think yours will, too, feel free to use my lesson plan!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

4th Grade Paul Klee Analogous Abstracts

This is a new lesson that I wrote this year. My kids absolutely love to use the mixing trays, so I thought coming up with a lesson in which they would need to rely on them would be quite a bit of fun. 

This lesson came right after the totem pole project. That project required quite a bit of mental problem solving in addition to small detail artwork. I wanted to give my students a bit of a change and this painting project worked quite well for that. 

We studied the abstract geometric work of painter Paul Klee as well as a little color theory. Each student then designed a composition inspired by Klee. The work was then painted with analogous colors. Students chose four colors that are in a row on the color wheel. Each student also had to include at least one tint and one shade in his or her work. I was pretty pleased with the variety of work my students produced and the overall quality of the painting. What really helped was the new size 2 bright brushes I purchased this year for detail work.  

Monday, December 9, 2013

3rd Grade Charley Harper Cardinals

This winter post comes at a very appropriate time. We had our first snow day of the year this past Friday because of the storm that came through. Apparently it's supposed to be a pretty snowy winter in Ohio. 

I stay away from holiday based projects. Holiday crafts or little gifts aren't my style as an art teacher. I've done a variation of this project for a couple of years and it has been very successful. This year, I had my students base their cardinals off of the work of Ohio artist Charley Harper. I've always been a fan of Harper's graphic style. 

In order to achieve a more graphic look, my students used construction paper to construct their cardinals. They used relatively geometric shapes to give the birds a graphic style. 

The background was a simple dry-brush technique with black tempera on white paper to make some birch trees. All parts were then assembled on turquoise construction paper. The results have been a big hit!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

2nd Grade Egyptian Cats and Dogs

It is that time of year again. 2nd grade Egyptian project time. This is a pretty universally successful project and my students really enjoy it. It combines drawing, painting (with GOLD paint), and oil pastels. 

Kids are fascinated with ancient Egypt and really enjoy getting to know the culture better. I have a great video that I show at the beginning of the project. It has all kinds of cool facts about ancient Egypt. The best part for me is watching the faces of my students when they talk about taking the brain out of people in order to make a mummy! 

I always ask my students to limit the color on their animals to colors that the animals could actually be in real life. One girl came up to me and asked if she could color her cat red. I asked whether cats are red in real life. She looked at me with a very serious look and said, "You can dye a cat red." Well played, kid. Well played. 

Check out my lesson plan here!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

3rd Grade Aboriginal Inspired Animals

I'm way behind on the blog again. Whoa. I've got several projects that are ready to go up. It's just a matter of finding a free minute to get it done.

This project isn't a new one for me, but one that is very successful every year. It's a pretty straightforward Aboriginal inspired piece. Kids get to select an Australian animal to depict as an x-ray drawing. The animals are drawn on construction paper and colored with oil pastels. The background are on a separate piece of construction paper that is painted (with long q-tips) prior to adding the finished animal. 

I make little changes to this lesson every year. In the past, I asked students to cover their entire background with dots. I could tell it was a little much for many students, so I allowed students to leave some background areas dot free this year. I liked the results. 

Check out my lesson plan here!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Illustrator visits Thomas!

Recently, students at Thomas were lucky enough to be able to host illustrator/author Steve Harpster. Steve is a local illustrator who does free (can you believe that?!?) school visits in Ohio and free electronic visits around the world. He has illustrated over 100 books including many how to draw books. Steve sent several of his books in advance and my students couldn't wait to see him. 
Steve's presentation was primarily a drawing lesson. He drew many characters from his books. Students (who brought paper and pencil) drew right along with him. Watching 125 students all drawing something at once was priceless. It was the art version of watching a crowd at a tennis match. Everyone would look up at the screen to see the next step in the drawing. Then they would all look down to work on their own paper. Then the would look up, then down, then up, then down, then up, then down. I think you get the point. 

Pure fascination.
Steve drew on his tablet which was projected on the wall.
It was incredibly easy for all students to follow along.
My students were extremely engaged with the presentation and were incredibly excited and motivated about how good their drawings were. All of the drawings are based around letters or numbers, so it's a totally different style than what they typically see in drawing books. I saw more successful drawings with Steve's presentation and books than I've ever seen from any other drawing book. 

If you're interested in having Steve Harpster visit your school, I would highly recommend it. More information about his school visits (along with drawing lessons, printables, and other materials) are on his website.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

4th Grade Totem Pole Collage

This project has become one of my absolute favorites for 4th grade. I think I tend to say that a lot. From the online response to previous versions of this project, I think a lot of my readers and pinners like this one as well. 

I think this is the third year I had students do their final artwork entirely with construction paper. The first few years I designed this as a painting project, but I wasn't getting the overall success I wanted. I switched it over to collage and, BAZINGA, success! The results from students this year are the best I've ever seen from this project. My 4th graders are an exceptionally talented group this year. 

The toughest parts of this project for kids to grasp are stylizing their chosen animal and filling the vast majority of their paper. I try to get them to think like they are actually carving it out of wood like a real totem pole. The sketching phase takes longer because of this, but it pays off with the final results. 

**Note about accessing my plans**
If you click on one of the links above, it will take you to the file in Google Drive. Feel free to download my lessons for free for your own use. Please don't ask to "share" the file because I have already allowed access and I can't allow further access without enabling everyone to edit my files. I can't do that for obvious reasons. If you click on "File" once you've clicked on the link, you can go down to "Download As..." and select the file type you'd like to download. After that, you can make changes and tailor it to your own classroom use.