Tree Mania

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I decided to do a tree project because I was sick of seeing a typical trees being drawn with a poof on top. I think winter trees are really beautiful especially when there is a good sunset behind them. I did this with 2nd grade.

We did a lot of sketching, looking at paintings and photograph of trees and concentrating on the branches. They tried to make their trees as close to the images they were copying from as possible. They previously prepared their rainbow background paper, and only painted their black silhouetted trees when absolutely ready after practicing on white paper first. We added snow last.

Since we did this towards the end of the winter I continued right into spring trees. We made tints of colors by adding white; they chose any color they wanted. We used brown instead of black, and replaced the snow with different colored flowers or leaves. They loved their spring versus winter trees.

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While on the subject of trees I went into the most famous tree of all, Klimt’s Tree of Life. We discussed how we were trying to paint our spring and winter trees to be realistic. Looking at Klimt’s tree how was it different? They were even able to come up with some interesting meanings for why the branches were spiraled and what the black bird represented (death).

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I taught them how to draw and paint spirals too. I was observed for this, my formal actually, and I wish I could say it went well but it was not an easy period. It was with one of my more challenging classes that I never, ever had a problem with. I’m not saying I let them do whatever they wanted, but I didn’t make them do the typical lets sit down and have a rigorous discussion for an eternity, because they would fight if they weren’t happy. This class did the best work, because they had so much time to actually paint and draw (you know art class stuff, kids are now WRITING in gym class, GYM class, whatever other blog) … needless to say they wanted to get into painting and not sit there and have a conceptual discussion on why we are painting spirals.

In the end their own trees of life were amazing. Since it was their imaginary tree they were allowed to use any color they wanted, not the typical lets me a Klimt tree out of gold paint because it is such a good excuse to use gold paint. Gold paint is expensive.

We added a collage element to the trees using colored construction paper to add in all the fun shapes like Klimt’s tree and a ominous black bird.

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Rainy Day Photography

There were only so many places to photograph in school. When the weather was good I had plenty of ideas but I dreaded a possible rainy day. We had talent classes every Monday for double periods. That was a lot of time to shoot and be able to edit after. I knew it was going to rain so I decided to have them use their skills of lines, shadows, texture, point of view, etc., and apply it to a theme photography project. The theme being rainy day!  I ran around beforehand borrowing umbrellas from other teachers so we each had one. The front of the school had an awning so we were able to shoot from there and come out into the rain with our umbrellas. Then we took it inside and photographed the rain from the windows around the school. Last we uploaded and edited as usual.

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Photography: Lines/Shadows/Texture

The photography of my elementary students brings tears to my eyes. They were so talented and totally understood concepts that I only began to learn in high school. My first year was a struggle teaching photography to youngsters, but by the second year I felt that they got it and I got it.

I taught photography the way I was taught it. Black and white was key. I feel that learning composition is easier without the distraction of color. We set the cameras to black and white for most of the year. Funny enough, at the end of the year when color was brought back the kids had new respect for black and white and some of the preferred to shoot or edit their photos back to black and white. And yes, my elementary kids as young as 2nd grade knew how to edit their photography in iPhoto.

The first year the students learned a lot about worm’s eye view, bird’s eye view, and rule of thirds. They brought these skills into their second year. I started the year out with editing in iPhoto because new cameras had not come in yet. They learned every editing tool in iPhoto and it was a huge success. By the time we began to shoot they were pros.

Lines, Shadows and Textures. Pretty basic stuff, but it got them shooting and excited. The school playground had a lot of this and when we went on a trip around the neighborhood they continued to find interesting lines, shadows, and textures. It never gets old, just look at anyone on instagram. I always reminded them to use their previous skills of worm’s eye view, especially with texture. My students would enhance their photographs themselves, sharpening, adding contrast, and so on.

 

Patterned Mittens

img_5352I did this with 1st grade. After doing line and shapes, we did patterns. Students spent a lot of time practicing drawing and coloring patterns on white paper. We discussed why we make patterns, specifically looking to our clothing. Using what we already knew about lines and shapes we created patters to prepare for a winter mitten design. I gave them a mitten stencil on colored construction paper, and they chose what color they wanted. I find that using colored paper is more forgiving when they don’t color in all the way it makes a nice background base. They took their practice pattern paper and transferred their designs to the mitten, using at leave 4 patterns. We used crayons and/or colored pencils. Some students outlines their patterns with sharpie.

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The snowflakes were really fun to do! I read Snowflake Bentley to the children and showed his real snowflake photography. They were fascinated by the designs. We reviewed symmetry here and brought up radial symmetry. We discussed what other things have radial symmetry as well. I also follow a friend on Facebook who photographs snowflakes today to show the kids a contemporary artist. She goes by The Snowflake Photographer and her work is breathtaking. We did some practice snowflakes using our drawing from observations skills. The kids were surprisingly into making the snowflakes look as close to the photographs as possible. I gave them black paper and white colored pencils for final snowflakes, then we attached the mitten to it. In the future I’d like to have them cut out a snowflake as well and glue on onto the mitten as if it was catching one.

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Mondrian Collages

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So this is kind of a typical art project but I liked it because I didn’t have supplies come in yet so it was a good way to introduces some elements of art before painting. The major themes in this project were primary colors, lines, shapes and abstract art. When they saw examples of Mondrian’s work there is a lot of room for discussion on what they think the paintings look like.

I showed them Broadway Boogie Woogie without telling them the title. I told them to use their imagination and discuss with their partner what they see. Without me telling them they got the sense of a city, and buildings and traffic lights. When I told them the paintings background they were really excited.

We also talked about what shapes and colors they see. I showed them another examples of Mondrian’s work with the typical black lines. We discussed what direction the lines can go, horizontal, vertical, and diagonal. We talked about the primary colors and what makes them special.

The guidelines were simple, students have to have at least 1 vertical, 1 horizontal, and 1 diagonal line. They have to use all 3 primary colors, and use different shapes to cover up most for the empty spaces. I didn’t want to give them too many limitations as I wanted them to be free to come up with their own things. I was observed during this lesson and my AP thought I should have had more rules, but I think they came out great with the guidelines they had? Yes, there is always going to be that kid who wants to do the bare minimum and get it over with quick and easy… but I feel like that is the kid you have a sit down chat with and try to inspire them to do more. Plus once things got going the kids saw what their peers were doing and kept going. Some kids cut their pieces smaller, some kids had their work pop out and make it a 3D project! I feel like you have to let them explore on their own.

I told them they can work to a certain design or see what it looks like after like we did with Broadway Boogie Woogie. We came up with titles based on what they saw I their pictures. Encourage students to use their paper wisely and not be afraid of the scrap bucket. I went through a lot of paper. Collage is also an annoying clean up so make sure you have a broom and dust pan.

I have also done this project on the computer! Great for learning how to make straight lines, use the bucket tool to fill in spaces, and create shapes! I used a program called PIXIE!

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Tiffany Lamps

I did this with 1st graders and some 1st-2nd inclusion classes. After we did a symmetry butterfly thing they knew a lot about keeping things the same on both sides. 

We started out by looking at images of Tiffany lamps discussing why someone would want this lamp over an ordinary lamp. We talked about what shapes, colors and things they saw. 

Since it was springtime we mostly kept out detail themes to flowers and bugs, and used shakes for in between. 

We had a drawing day and I put out images of different bugs and flowers. They folder a paper into 4s and had to try 8 sketches on the front and back. 

Next day I have them a blank lamp template and we looked at Tiffany lamps and talked about size and placement of our main detail flowers and bugs and our background shapes. 

We had a formula to follow putting one detail big in the center and repeating them on the sides. The top and bottom could be decorated with shapes or a big sun or big flower. I showed them how to follow symmetry by remembering to do whatever they did on one side to the other. This was a draft so mistakes are supposed to happen here!

When their draft was done they got a big paper with a lamp template drawn out bigger. The hardest part is to make their design bigger so we talk about that before they start. 

Once done they outline with sharpie and add more shapes if it’s too empty looking, or lines to cut it up. 

Before they use watercolors we have a lesson on appropriate brush sizes. I tell them the story of Goldie locks and the 3 bears. So we refer to the brushes as the momma brush, papa, and baby. They get a practice paper with different sized shapes to make the right brush choices. 

Then it’s off to paint their lamp! I recommend staying away from black because it’ll over power, but brown looks great in watercolors almost looks golden. 

I bit the base, but in the future I’d like to use gold and bronze paper and buy a string of white costume beads for a pull string for the lamp.