Saturday, April 23, 2011

My Amateur Artists

"Every artist was first an amateur." -Ralph Waldo Emerson

     Today I want to catch you up on what my favorite amateur artists are up to.  We have lots of fun things going on in the art room right now and it's up in the air whether or not we'll finish before school gets out for summer.  Wish us luck!  ;]  But for now, enjoy a snapshot of what we do every day. 

     Since we spoke last (about art, that is), I finished grading this huge pile of papers and some.  I had underestimated the amount of grading needed to provide 7-9 grades each for 450 students, which led to me waiting to enter grades a week before they were due.  Definitely not making that mistake again!  I'm already entering grades for the 4th (and last) quarter of the school year.


     This is the project I've been working on with my autistic class (six boys in grades K-2).  I found the idea on a message board somewhere and adapted it for my students.  The original idea was to tape a tarp over a table, put pieces of paper on top of it, put spoonfuls of paint on top of the paper, and then tape another tarp tightly over the whole thing.  Then let the kids go nuts pushing the paint around.  I decided that the set-up for that was a little time consuming, especially considering that I couldn't do it in my room and I didn't want to tear their room apart for it.  So, I decided to use the same idea, but instead of tarps, put the papers in ziplock bags.  I cut 9x12 pieces of white drawing paper down to 9x10 so they fit nicely in the bags.  After putting the papers in the bag, I placed three teaspoon fulls of paint in different places around the paper.  I made sure to tape the bags securely to the table, because I know those boys, and I know they'd find a way to tear open the baggies.  For most of them I taped the top and the bottom, but I taped all four sides for the more "spirited" boy.  We brought them to the table and sat them down with the direction to "push down."  They loved it.  We're doing it again next week with cool colors since it was such a big hit.  A word of caution: watch to make sure they don't scrape their fingernails against the bag, because that turns this clean activity into a very messy activity.

     Cut the bag open to get to the paper more easily.  Then remember to wash off your scissors.  Waiting a day to wash them is strongly discouraged.  ;]

Here are two of the finished products!  I love how you can see the marks from their fingers moving the paint.

     Next time I wouldn't use posterboard, which is what I did for them.  My example I did with drawing paper, and even though it got super soggy, it dried much nicer.  The top later of their posterboard kept peeling off, which is why there are some white spots in the middle.

Materials: gallon size ziplock bags, 9x10 white drawing paper, tempera paint, packing tape


     My first class of the day is 1st grade and they are all dolls.  Seriously, I teach some fantastic 1st graders.  Right now we are having a lot of fun with cave paintings (all credit for this lesson goes to my amazing co-art teacher and friend, Kym).  On day one we did a virtual tour of the Lascaux caves in France, which can be found here (warning: the page is in French).  We talked about how old the paintings are, and how many of the pictures tell stories.  Then we took brown pieces of 18x12 paper, ripped the edges, and drew our story pictures (showing beginning, middle, and end).  But did we sit at our seats like normal?  No way!  That's boring!  We turned off the lights and drew in our caves (a.k.a. under the tables).  It was a blast.  They loved it.  On day two we watched a cartoon about some kids who go back in time to the caves, and then colored our pictures using natural colors. 


     At 9:15, my adorable Kindergarteners stop by (actually, they run, skip, and laugh their way into my classroom).  We're having a ton of fun making our own wild things, inspired by some of our favorite creatures in Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak.  On the first day we read the book and talked about some of the features we can put on our creatures (e.g. terrible eyes, terrible claws, horns, ears, arms, feet, tail, nose, etc.).  On day two we talked about how we can show how things feel by how we draw.  Once we'd decided the texture we wanted to use, we drew our own wild thing.  Next week we are going to paint paper with tempura paint (either a "day sky" or a "night sky") and then tear brown/green paper to make trees.  I'm excited to see how this is going to turn out. 

This is one of our example wild things.  Notice all the different textures, as well as all the awesome features.  ;]

     Wow, that's just three of my classes.  I guess I was a bit long winded on one of them...oops!  I'll try to write about 2nd-5th in the next couple of days.  In the meantime, have a happy Easter!  :]

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  1. your art teaching posts fascinate me! the ziploc bag pieces are awesome!! and everything else is really cool too! keep sharing!

  2. Thanks for stopping by the blog! Moving to a place I dream of is definitely on my list ;)

  3. This is awesome! My partner's a Teaching Assistant and I used to create children's activities when I worked in my local community library, so I often find my evenings spent cutting shapes out and sticking things together to prepare for an activity she's working on!

    It's really cool seeing what people are doing with creativity and learning. Particularly like the idea of drawing under the table. Wish my school had been as fun as this!