Monday, December 18, 2017

5th Grade Holiday Lights

Fresh off their experience of using soft pastels to create their Northern Lights artworks, 5th graders spent their last class of the quarter making some beautiful holiday lights with metallic Sharpies, some bulb tracers I provide, and soft pastels smeared with a finger.

1st Grade Winter Landscapes

As a way to introduce the art element of space - or in this case, depth - first graders created these winter landscapes.  The concepts of overlapping (the snow covered hills) and making our trees and footprints smaller as they get farther away are both used to imply this sense of depth.  Students also begin to learn about the value of using guidelines (they used one to position their rows of footprints) in setting up an artwork.

5th Grade Northern Lights

Because they're so downright messy, I don't have students use soft pastels for very many lessons.  However, there's no denying how right they are for certain subjects.  Case in point: the Northern Lights.  I've seen several examples of lessons like this on Pinterest and finally decided to let my 5th graders give one a go.  As usual, they didn't disappoint!

We started by drawing simple overlapping hills along the bottom of our black 12x18 construction paper, leaving thick lines between the different hills to emphasize depth, and filling in the hills with white oil pastel.  In the same session, we used white acrylic paint and small brushes to make stars in our skies. 

In the second session, after a quick demonstration of how to apply and smear the soft pastels, and with a background video of different Northern Lights from around the world, students added the Northern Lights to their paper.  Yes, I'm biased, but I think these came out really nice! 

Kindergarten Mittens with Patterns

After reading Jan Brett's The Mitten, a richly-illustrated adaptation of a Ukrainian folktale about a boy whose lost white mitten becomes a temporary home to woodland animals large and small, kindergarteners created their own pair of mittens from a piece of cardstock and mitten tracers I provide.  We use this lesson as a first opportunity to talk about pattern - not just in art, but in math and music, too.  The students then add patterns (of lines, shapes, or colors) and color their mittens "as colorfully as possible, so they can't get lost in the snow." In a second session, we glue our mittens to a blue background and fill it with snowflakes using oil pastels (and one pre-cut snowflake I provide).

4th Grade Gyotaku (Fish Rubbing) Prints

In the mid-nineteenth century, Japanese fisherman created Gyotaku or "fish rubbing" as a way to document their catches.  One side of the fish was coated with ink and covered in rice paper, and then the paper was rubbed to transfer the image of the fish. This practice eventually blossomed into a form of fine art and an alternative to taxidermy for many sport fishermen.

Our fourth graders tried their hands at Gyotaku using several life-sized, realistic rubber fish I purchased online (the piranha is especially popular!).  We spent a day viewing some short videos showing real Gyotaku artists at work and then I demonstrate how to make a print with one or two of our "fish."  On the second day of the unit, after a quick review of the method, the students created multiple prints with the goal of improving with each print, so that they had at least one or two "keepers."  On a third day, we added realistic eyes with Sharpie and white acrylic paint for the reflection, as well other colors with watercolor paints.  Thanks to a translator on Google, we also signed our prints with the Japanese version of our names.

I was impressed by how many of the students quickly mastered how much paint to use and the type of careful, even rubbing required to make a print with a lot of detail.  I've been doing this lesson for a few years now, and these were some of the best prints yet!

3rd Grade Underwater Color Values

Having learned about color value in 2nd grade, students painted these silhouettes set against a background of the sun shining down through the sea.  They painted the color values first by starting with a white sun near the center and adding increasing amounts of blue to their white acrylic paint.  In a second session, with the aid of some sea turtle examples on the Smartboard and a quick lesson in drawing one from shapes, students added the turtles and surrounded them with an outline of rock and "coral."  In a third class, the 3rd graders filled in their drawings with black acrylic paint, using small brushes for the more detailed parts of their turtles and coral.  As usual, the students rose to the challenge of this involved project! 

2nd Grade Stacks 'o Turtles

This lesson builds on what the 2nd graders learned about using lines to emphasize the form of a subject in their Starry Night Pumpkins lesson.  It also introduces them to the art element of color value, which they use in coloring their turtle shells.  We use color pencils for the coloring because of the relative ease of producing different values of the same color simply by applying different pressure when coloring.