Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Circle Painting

I walked out of school yesterday feeling like I was on cloud nine.  It wasn't just one thing.  Everything just seemed to fall into place.  Amazing when that happens.  I'm really excited to share a piece of my joy with you...this project.  It was definitely a BIG part of that feel-good feeling.  The idea is derived from Hiep Nguyen's website:  Check it out, all the details about his project are there, along with lots of great artwork and videos.
If you're looking for a great way to explore shape, symmetry, non objective art, and radial design with kids this project has got it covered.   I got a five star rating from kids, plus it's just plain fun.  Here's what we did.
First we watched this....
The kids got it immediately.  Start with a circle in the center and grow a design outwards by adding more circles.  Move around the design and add details to the work that's already there.  
To start we covered the table with a large sheet of paper.  Paint was poured, one color per student each in its own cup.  Each kid got a brush.  To be fair, we counted out around the circle.  Number one started us off by drawing a circle in the middle of the paper.  As he was finishing up, number two added their circle close to, or adjoining the first.  Number three and four joined came in as one and two went out.  Then five and six.  The kids painted from the center outwards.  As the design grows there are more and more places to join in.  After a few minutes everyone was happily painting away.
The amazing thing was the way in which the students worked.  Absolute cooperation.  Absolute focus.  Absolute bliss.
Kids left saying it was the best art class ever.  They told all their friends how much the love circle painting.  They are begging for more next week.
My focus next week is on shape as an element of art and on radial symmetry.  We'll be playing around with this a little and then do another circle painting.
Oops!  Almost forgot to give credit where it's due.  I found this wonderful video and website through Snippety Gibbets Video Site.  Lots great resources here! Check it out

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Kindergarten Jungle Snakes

Fourth graders watched the little owl video today and are really excited to start making movies.  In the mean while kindergarten put the finishing touches on their pattern snakes today.  To complete this project they patterned with crayon, water colored both sides of their snake and designed a leafy jungle where their snake would live.  To create their habitat kindergartners painted leaves using green paint on green paper.  We really tried to fill up the page.
Finally, kindergartners created a darker value by mixing black into their green paint.  We wanted to create a lot of shady places for that snake to hide.  The snake was then stapled on and the whole thing matted on black paper.  Lots of fine motor work in this project.  Good work kindergarten!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Kindergarten Pattern Snakes

Here's another pattern project.  This is so simple, but my kindergartner's love making these snakes so much that the always request making them again in first grade.  We share with each other what we know about patterns and look at lots of examples.  Kids learn that patterns repeat and that they are predictable (we can usually guess what comes next).  Then they choose the patterns that they want to decorate their snake.  We used crayons first and then water colored to create a resist.  The hardest part about making the snakes is waiting for the paint to dry, because the real fun is in cutting them out.   First, we cut carefully around the outside, and then make the long spiral cut around the inside.
Sometimes we hang them from the ceiling, but often kids beg to take them home right away.  This year we're going to try something a little different.  (If they'll let me).
I'll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Happy Accident Studios Are Pleased to Present...

  A couple weeks ago I mentioned that I came up with a new twist on our Owl Pattern Project.  It's finally finished and ready to share.  This year, instead of making the owl and cutting it out, we tried making a 3 part owl (body and two wings). After drawing the owl and the wings, kids filled their design with pattens and carefully cut the pieces out.  They hole-punched and paper-fastened the wings to the body and were pretty excited to pose them in different positions.
After photographing the owls with the wings opened and the wings closed, I noticed that quickly flipping the images back and forth in the display screen on my camera created a fun little animation.  We had a great time playing around with the images, probably not the best thing for my camera, but what can I say?  Easily amused.
Our little  discovery lead to this... 

This is my test video.  I'm not the most techno savy person on the planet and wanted to make sure I could actually make it work before diving in with a class full of kids.  Turns out it was super simple and a great starting place for introducing animation.  The animation was made by alternating two images in Windows Movie Maker which most computers have.
I've got a feeling we'll be seeing a whole lot more birds flying around here soon.
If you want to try it, here are the specifics:  to make the bird we folded a 9X12 piece of paper in half.  The first half was used to draw the body of the owl.  We did this as a guided drawing.  Then kids cut their paper on the fold.  They folded the second piece of paper in half and penciled in the shape of the wing.  Kids used a sharpie to outline the wing on both sides of the paper so they could transfer the outline and get two matching wings.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


I like to work in a project at the beginning of the year that asks kids to think about how lines and shapes can work together to create patterns.  This owl project is an old standard that I usually do with my third grade students.  This year I tried it with my wonderful second graders and I'm so glad I did.  They flew with it. I adore how their owls look, like themselves, so very young.

I also tried this with my fourth grades students, but with a new twist which I will share with you next week.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Kindergarten City: Mural in Progress

Primary students have been busy creating artwork with a focus on geometric shapes this month.  A lot of designing was done in art centers where students had an opportunity to cut, glue, paint, and color to their heart's content.  We learned how to divide a square to make two rectangles, and how to divide a rectangle to make two smaller squares.  We noticed we could cut diagonally through a square to make two triangles.  And that we can carefully trim the corners off a square to make a nice round circle.  We are learning how to use the glue pot and the glue brush to apply just the right amount of glue.

Last week we closed down the centers and did a whole class project.  We used what we know about geometric shapes to create this beautiful city.  It has flags, sky scrapers, people, lamp posts, birds and airplanes.  Our reference for drawing buildings was Skyscrapers, by Judith Dupre.  Our buildings were designed using crayon on tall white copy paper and then carefully cut out.  We'll continue working on our city this week.  We need a lot more people and some vehicles to complete the scene.