Wednesday, December 9, 2009

First Snow Day--December 9, 2009

Thought I'd post these snowmen to celebrate our first snow day of the season. Yep, 12 inches of snow blew in on December 9th and schools were closed. Since we've been back, snowmen have been popping up around the schoolyard. There's a wonderful snow family peeping into the fourth grade classroom windows and a snow fort in progress further beyond.

First and Second Graders completed these cuties as part of their painting unit. We're still looking at the color wheel. We have moved from learning about primary and secondary colors, to thinking about warm and cool colors. Our focus here was to use cool colors to create a wintry chill. We worked these up in two steps. On the first day we tore and pasted color tissue paper to a 12"x 18" sheet of paper and set them aside to dry. On the second day we painted a little hill of snow and a big snow man using a big brush. We added details using a smaller brush.
I love how the colored papers bleed through the paint and cast icy shadows on the snow.
These guys are filled with holiday cheer.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Owl Art

I walked into the three/four combined classroom at Readsboro Elementary to find students hard at work dissecting owl pellets. It was amazing to see all the little bits and pieces they contained. Students were collecting the little bones with the goal of comparing them to a chart of a mouse skeleton in an attempt to classify them. They found some pretty amazing insect exoskeletons, too.
Next thing we knew we were back in the art room drawing owls. I love how the details that they remembered from their unit on owls turned up in their artwork. Notice the heart-shaped faces of the snowy owls above.
I got them started by doing a guided drawing of a basic owl. There are many ways of doing it, but we started with the eyes and beek, drew a circle or oval for the head, added ears, then the sides of the body, the feet, branch, and tail. Then we added wings and details on the face and belly. I talked a little about symmetry in patterning their owl and they took off. It helped to have practiced patterns before we started the owl project.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Happy Birthday, Eric Carle!

Currier Memorial School is happy to announce that we are hosting a school-wide Eric Carle Festival. Our celebration honors the life and work of the beloved children's author and illustrator, Eric Carle. Eric Carle celebrates his 80th birthday this year. He has illustrated more than seventy picture books for young children and is most well known for his kindergarten classic, "The Very Hungry Caterpillar". "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" celebrates it's 40th anniversary this year. Eric Carle's books are enormously popular with parents and children. His books have been translated into 29 languages and sold more than 88 million copies around the world.

Our students began the celebration by looking at our library collection of Eric Carle books. They tried to determine how Eric Carle created his illustrations. Then we watched the video "Eric Carle, Picture Maker". In the video, Eric Carle invites students into his studio where he demonstrates how he created the illustrations for "The Very Hungry Caterpillar". Students watched as he demonstrated his technique for decorating tissue papers and using his handmade papers to create a collage.

With grant funding from the Southern Vermont Art Center in Manchester, Vermont, we were able to purchase the supplies needed for our entire school to create artwork based on Eric Carle's techinque of creating hand decorated papers. On Thursday, Dec 3rd the painting began. For the next three weeks we will meet in the muti-purpose room to sponge, splatter, roller, scrape, and stamp. We are creating a "bank" of beautifully colored papers. We will be using these papers in the coming months for collage, paper sculpture and mobiles.

I can't wait to post the results. This is such a fun project and we are thankful for school wide support and the grant funding that made it possible.

You can learn more about Eric Carle by visiting here: Be sure to click on the Photos and Videos link on his home page to watch Eric Carle work on "Mister Seahorse" or to see how he created really big papers for his mural at the Eric Carle Museum.

Happy Birthday, Eric Carle!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

First and Second Grade Painting Unit.

This month, grades one and two finished up their clay work and started a five week painting unit.

We learned about painting and color. We looked at the color wheel and learned that the color wheel is a tool artists use to help them see color families and color relationships. We learned that one important color family are the primary colors. The primary colors are red, yellow, and blue. They're important because we can use these three colors to mix all the other colors in the rainbow.

We are learning that it's important to manage our materials in a way that doesn't create a huge wet and colorful mess. We are learning to manage our paints, our water, our brushes, our paper towel, and to use the drying rack. We practice painting carefully each time we paint.

In our first lesson we tried mixing colors right on our paper and made lots of new colors.

We learned that artists sometimes mix paints on a palette and we tried that, too. Palette means plate. We mixed our colors on a paper plate palette. We mixed primary colors (red, yellow, and blue) to create secondary colors (green, violet, and orange). I meant to take a photo of the kids' plate palettes, but what can I say, we got busy and I forgot. To help them set up their colors I placed the primaries in a triangle (just like on the color wheel) and drew circles between each color for mixing secondary colors. The circles were especially helpful for the youngest artists.

We used our paper plate palettes to paint these beautiful gardens. Good work first grade. Good work second grade. Look for these on the entry way bulletin board at Currier Memorial School.

Kindergarten Makes Beaded Butterflies

This is the final project of our five week construction and assemblage unit for kindergarten. We built paper sculptures, paper hats, cardboard constructions, and lastly, these little guys. Little hands had plenty of practice cutting, snipping, gluing and attaching. Could look cute on a holiday tree.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Gyotaku the Japanese Art of Fish Printing

Gyotaku is the second project in the third and forth grade printmaking unit.
In Japanese, "Gyo" means fish and "Taku" means rubbing. Put it together and you get fish print. Fish printing was invented by Japanese fisherman before the invention of cameras. Fisherman wanted a way to keep an especially large or interesting catch, and yet still be able to take the fish to market to sell. They found that by painting the fish with ink and pressing it against paper they could take a print of their fish, then rinse off the ink and sell the fish at market. Fish prints were brought back and displayed in homes of fisherman either on the walls or in journals.
Fish printing later developed into an art form when artists began adding artistic elements and created prints for their beauty. This fish print was created by a fourth grade art student.

Instead of using live fish (for obvious reasons) we used a set of rubber fish stamps. I set up 4-6 printmaking stations in the room and students circulated through choosing the fish the wanted to print. Their goal was to get four good, clear practice prints. We set our prints on the drying rack to dry.

In our second class students added elements of color to their practice prints with crayon, paying special attention to the eye. The highlights of color especially around the eye really brought our fish to life. We cut these out and strung them up so that they looked like the catch of the day.

The very last step of our project was to create a print on a water colored background. To do this students used the wet-into-wet watercolor technique. They sprinkled their paper with salt for a bubbly texture. We brushed away the salt when dry and printed our final fish. With a little experience under their belts this print was a piece of cake.

We matted our final version on blue paper and hung our papers alternately with our "catch of the day". Don't they make an eye catching display?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Cave Painting

Upper Elementary and Middle School students at Readsboro and Currier Memorial are well into a unit on prehistoric cave painting. As part of this unit, we took a virtual field trip to the prehistoric caves in Lascaux, France. We learned that the paintings in these caves were created around 17,000 BCE by the Cro-magnon people. There are many painted caves in this region of France, but this one, known as the Sistine Chapel of Prehistory was discovered by a couple of fourteen year old boys and their dog, Radar, while out on an afternoon hike.
You can learn more about the cave by following the link: or take the tour here The tour is a new link off the official website and it is really amazing. Lots of interesting info to be found at both sites.
Our art students viewed the art, learned to identify the main characteristics of prehistoric cave painting, and considered what it might imply about a culture that they had the tools, materials, time, know-how, and motivation to assume an undertaking of this scale. The students then developed some rough drafts of their own in this style, which they enlarged onto brown craft paper using chalk pastels. They cut out their animals, pasted them to fill larger pieces of craft paper, and sponge painted in the rock wall. From these we assembled our own version of a prehistoric painted cave. The Currier Cave is now set in the hall connecting fifth and sixth grade classrooms. The Readsboro Cave will be constructed in the art room. Come check it out.

Here's the finished product. Are they not magnificent?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Another Great Fall Project--Ceramic Leaf Dish.

Third and Fourth grade after school program kids "Got Fired Up" about ceramics. Making a ceramic leaf dish was just one of the project they completed during the five week session. Here you can see an older student putting the finishing touches on their leaf after they came out of the kiln.
Below you can see some photos of the the process for making a leaf dish. Here our first and second grade students have pressed the leaf, vein side down into the flattened clay. Look at those little hands carefully cutting around the leaf shape. Have you ever seen anything so cute? To get to this step our little artists practiced making basic clay shapes: a pancake, a ball, a thick snake, a pinch pot. First we practiced using play dough. Then we tried our basic skills using ceramic clay. We also practiced rolling a small slab and tracing around our hand to make a simple cut out before attempting the leaf. We had lots of time to build and explore our own ideas, too. With all this skills firmly in place, making the leaf dish was a breeze. First and second grade students are completing a six week clay unit. We are now practicing skills for making a ceramic fish.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Elements of Art

Of all the elements of art, line is the most basic. Line, as an element of art, is the focus of this quick beginning art project. In this lesson we discussed the three attributes of line: direction (vertical, horizontal, diagonal), measure (thick/thin, long/short), and quality (straight, zig zag, curving, looping, wavy, meandering, broken, spiral, etc.). We practiced making a variety of lines and combined lines to create patterns. We put our pattens to use in two special projects. This one, "Wild Hair Day", asks students to create a character with a wild hair do, to divide the design into a variety of shapes, and to fill the shapes with beautiful and carefully drawn line and pattern. The results are pretty amusing and provide plenty of practice for line control and variety. This project was completed by a fifth grade student. Fifth grade line designs are on exhibit on the board near the front entrance to Currier Memorial.
Our Fourth grade students enjoyed a similar lesson, but demonstrated their knowledge of line by completing a line design owl. Their work is in progress but I will post it soon.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

fall into art

The changing seasons has been the theme for many of our warm-up drawings lately, and it's now abundantly clear that kids love the fall. Their imagery shows apples, and pumpkins, bats, cats, and costumes, but most of all, the glee with which our students await the first raking of the leaves and all the antics that surround the leaf pile.
I thought I might share a sneak preview of some of the art projects inspired by the season. I'm especially proud of my third and fourth grade students who are kicking off a five week exploration of printmaking with a leaf printing project. We've learned that prints are images made by pressure, and that artists that make prints are called print makers. We're also learning that printmaking can be very messy--we're really working hard to be careful with the paint. After we print our leaves using warm colors, we'll sponge paint our background using cool colors. We have gold paint for the veins of the leaves and are printing some additional leaves to cut out and run through the paper crimper to give them an eye catching texture before we paste them on. Below is the finished product waiting for matting. Good work third and fourth graders. Look for these on the walls soon. Happy printing.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Pinwheels for Peace

At Currier Memorial and Readsboro Elementary we celebrated September 21st, The International Day of Peace, by participating in the Pinwheel for Peace Project. Pinwheels for Peace is an art installation project started in 2005 by two art teachers, Ann Ayers and Ellen McMillan as a way for students to express their feelings about what's going on in the world and in their lives. The project was quickly embraced by their students and the school community and by millions of teachers, parents, children and adults who desire peace in their world. The project has spread worldwide and expanded to include 3 million pinwheels planted this year.

At Currier Memorial and Readsboro School students were encouraged to reflect on what peace means in their lives, in their relationships, in their schools, and in their communities. We paused to consider how we each contribute to "keeping the peace" when we practice tolerance, patience, understanding, respect, in school and at home.

Each student decorated and assembled their pinwheel with words, images, and symbols that communicated their feelings about peace. On September 21st and 22nd, students planted their pinwheels in the school lawn as part of a school wide celebration. It was fun and exciting to be part of this global celebration and I am proud of their efforts.

You can learn more about the project by visiting www.pinwheelsforpeace where you'll also find a template for making a pinwheel of your own.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Salt Maps

Hi! Welcome to Barb's (art) thought of the day! I hope you'll check in often to see what's going on in the art room and to exchange ideas. Tonight I'm getting ready for salt maps in fourth grade at Currier Memorial. Making salt maps, or play dough maps, is part of a lesson that integrates art and geography. Tomorrow students will show what they have learned with Ms. Gibeault about the geography of Vermont by building relief maps. We'll be building up mountain ranges and carving out rivers while locating the key features of our state such as: Lake Champlain and the Champlain Valley, the Green Mountains, the Taconics, the Connecticut River and the Connecticut River Valley, and more. But, tonight I'm making play dough. Lots and lots of play dough. While I'm at it I thought I might share my favorite play dough recipe with you.

Barb's Tried and True Play Dough Recipe

4 Cups all purpose flour
2 Cups salt
4 Cups water
8 teaspoons cream of tartar
4 Tablespoons cooking oil
Food Coloring (optional)
Glitter (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a large pot. Mix food coloring in with the water if you are using it. Cook on medium-low heat until the dough forms. Be careful not to burn it. When the dough cools, knead it. Knead in the glitter if you are using it. Place in a sealed bag or container.

Fourth graders will share their salt maps during our school gathering. Above are some some pics of their work in progress. And here we are adding the finishing touches--there's Lake Champlain and Otter Creek!