Camp Ipad Photography: Chalk

Is there anything that represents the innocence and glory of childhood like sidewalk chalk? Watching the kids draw on the ground, and building, with chalk brought tears to my eyes. It was adorable. Then, they photographed the chalk and we got some very interesting shots. Especially since they already learned worm’s eye view, and got that yummy shallow depth of field.

With the older kids I showed several examples of how chalk can create a fun illusion that they can interact with. I made it very friendly, for all ages and abilities. They could draw something intricate or simply use color and shapes and photograph the chalk in compositionally interesting ways.

Photo Jul 25, 11 42 10 AM

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Warm vs. Cool Colors

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As part of our color theory unit we learned what the warm and cool colors are and how to use them. I started the class by asking kids to name me all 6 colors from the color wheel, grouping them into warm and cool. I asked if they knew why I put orange, red and yellow on one side and blue, green, purple on the other. Some students knew why. I showed them how they are together on the color wheel as well.

I showed them paintings and photographs in a warm and cool version. So I searched warm or cool colored images and then manipulated them in Photoshop to change them. So I had the same image in a warm version and a cold version.

We did a lot of group discussion on how the different versions make us feel. I actually found a cool image of Beyoncé crying. The warm and cool version had very different responses from the kids. The were very insightful to how warm colors make them feel versus cool. I gave them more images to discuss with their tables. By the end of class they were able to identify why artists would use warm or cool colors to create different moods.

As an activity they traces their hands, drew a line down the center, decorated one side cool and the other warm. This was all in preparation for the big end of unit color theory projects: Feel Good Words and Kandinsky Circles.

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.

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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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. 

Recycled Art

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I adapted this project for my campers a couple years ago. Originally I subbed this lesson in a middle school. It was more connected to the idea of recycled art because you can paint endangered animals on the cans. Instead, because it was summer camp we used emojis to decorate the cans and the campers loved that idea.

The inspiration comes from an artist named Charles Kaufman

http://www.crushed-can-art.com/kaufman-crushed-can-art.html

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Have the kids flatten their cans by stepping on them carefully. You have to take care with the top and bottom and make sure it folds over the right way, so it isn’t just mindless stomping. Trace the can 4 times on a paper. They have to try 4 different designs before committing to one. When they picked an animal or emoji ask them to think about colors and backgrounds. If you’re doing the animals they can research what the animal eats. If you’re doing emojis you can do patterns and colors.

Prepare the can by paintings it with white tempura paint 1 or 2 coats, 2 is probably better. They can do this after they trace so it is dry and ready for next time but you can always use a blow dryer to make it dry faster but be careful because it can get super hot!

When they decide on a design they can use a pencil to draw it on the prepared white tempura. Depending on the age and skill of your painters you can have them paint the subject first and then the background surrounding it. Or you can have them do a base color for the background then the subject on top. I just like to do the animal/emoji first because they can draw it with pencil on their cans and see it better.

You can glue gun string to the back and have it hang or hot glue it to a matte board and it will loose nice and framed!

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Fall Trees

img_3588We forget how young PreK is and how little they can do. Ripping paper is good for strengthening their hands.

We started out by talking about what’s going on with the trees outside. They should be able to discuss how the trees are changing and how winter is coming.

We look at pictures of trees and discuss what shapes we see. The trunk is a long skinny rectangle, and branches are smaller rectangles or just lines. We use brown to do this. Remind them not to add leaves yet because we’ll be gluing them on later. Once the tree is done talk about the ground line and make that in green for grass.

That can take one period, so next time they can do the leaves. Show them how to rip the paper about the size of the top of their little fingers. Doesn’t really matter as long as the peices aren’t too big or small. Talk about where the leaves would go, some on the branches, falling down or already on the ground in a pile.

Depending on ability some students will need help with the glue. I used glue sticks for this. Show them how to put glue on the paper then stick the leaf on. For some kids you can just cover a whole area with glue n let them go sticking.

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