Students spend the first part of one class period discussing and learning about popular culture and how it is different now than when I was their age -- a loooong time ago. They then view and discuss some examples of Pop Art, focusing on the work of its most famous artist, Andy Warhol. Since the medium focus of this unit is printmaking and not drawing, I have them choose and trace a cartoon icon onto a 4" x 4" piece of Styrofoam, rather then have them try to draw and trace their own pop culture product or character. (They are much less frustrated and much happier with the results of their prints this way!). In a second session, I have the room set up with different color stations where they ink these printing plates and print with them onto pre-cut squares of brightly colored cardstock. In a third class session, after the prints are dry, the students arrange their prints in a square (ala Warhol) on one sheet of black construction paper, and we end the unit with kid-friendly video about Warhol's life and Pop Art.
I think weaving with paper strips is a great way for younger students to learn about this art form before they've acquired the fine motor skills to accomplish it with yarn. In my quest to have our first graders weave something other than a placemat, I found several versions of this lesson on Pinterest (thank you, Pinterest pioneers!). Students spend one session weaving the backs of the alligators (I actually don't tell them what animal they are weaving, and it's fun to hear the guesses.) The second session is spent folding, cutting, and gluing on mouths, tails, legs, and teeth on their gators. Students love their finished gators -- many even give them names before class is even over -- so I don't have the heart to hang on to these for display at school. Everybody just has to take theirs home. Hopefully they survive the trip!
Our Second graders explored the art element of color value for the first time with this lesson. We began by looking at examples of art that used only different tints (lighter values) and shades (darker values) of one color to show depth or form. Then students folded a 12x18 sheet of drawing paper into eight sections and painted each with a different value of their chosen "ice cream" color. They did this by adding increasing amounts of white to their color (or increasing amounts of their color to white). In a second session, students drew scoop shapes on their different values and cut these out. Being careful to stack them in dark-to-light or light-to-dark order, they then glued the scoops, with a cone, onto a pre-cut sheet of construction paper.