Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Draw Me a Star

It's winter now and the nights are long, dark, and starry.  I found this lesson on the Eric Carle web site in the resource section called Caterpillar Exchange.  http://www.eric-carle.com/catexchange.html  There are a lot of lessons linked to Eric Carle books here and this one, based on Draw Me A Star, fit in well with my thoughts about winter and with the geometric shapes that my youngest artists have been looking at, working with, and thinking about this month.  The lesson is listed as a two day lesson plan, but it took us three days to complete. 
I did this lesson with grades K, 1 and 2.
To begin the lesson we talked about how to draw a star.  Some kids knew how to, some didn't.  We tried to decide if there was just one way to draw a star, or if we could draw stars in many different ways.  We decided there were lots of ways to draw a star.  We looked at the front and back cover of the book and noticed the different stars and then read the book.
After reading the book we looked at an practiced drawing stars.  Really young primary kids were really excited about learning this new skill.  Students were asked to practice a few different ways on one side of their paper.  I asked them to show me their favorite star and then told them to flip their paper over and draw their best star really big.  When they showed me a "keeper", a nicely shaped big star, they set their drawing aside and were invited to the painting station to take a turn at sponge painting a sheet of aluminum foil.  We have a set of those round dabbers and kids loved doing this. The beautiful foils were put on the drying rack.  When they were dry I cut them into strips on the paper cutter and gently laid them onto a tray.   
On the second day, kids selected a few strips and a piece of 9X12 colored paper.  The glue pots came out and kids snipped and glued the bits of shiny painted paper to their construction paper.  We started in the center and worked out toward the edges.  At the end of class these too were set on the drying rack. 
On the third day kids flipped their paper over.  They used chalk to draw a star on the back.  We could tell where the foil was because the paper was "puffy".  When kids were satisfied with their star they cut it out.  They chose a new paper color and glued their paper once again.  They made a "copy cat cut" around their star to add the little border, punched a hole, added a string, and went happily home.

Small note of warning.  Draw Me A Star does contain some very, very, benign nudity.  How you handle this will depend on your group.  I decided to read the book in it's entirety and it led to a very interesting discussion with K, 1, and 2nd grade students.  Their responses to the question "Why do you think Eric Carle chose to show the people this way?" were insightful, entirely charming, and sometimes very, very amusing.
 Stay tuned for some more star-work.

Monday, November 22, 2010

James Rizzi Happy Houses

Fifth and sixth grade students at Currier Memorial have been looking at the work of James Rizzi.  Rizzi is a Pop Artist, best known for his brightly colored animated cityscapes that are rich, full, and bubbling over with life.  Both fifth and sixth grade students made a strong connection with his work.  His cartoon-like drawing style was a big hit with everyone and who can resist his cheerful style?  We looked at lots of examples of Rizzi's work and picked apart the elements of his style.  Each student completed a rough draft of a Rizzi-style building and when they were satisfied with the result work began on a large scale Rizzi City.
I'm so impressed by the commitment both classes have put forward on this large undertaking.  Kids have really put their heart and soul into this project and it's a joy to watch them work.  Fifth graders transferred their designs to mural paper students outlined with ink and brush or with sharpie pen.  Colored pencils were used for the small details.  Larger areas were painted in using liquid watercolor.  When the buildings are dry we'll add the background colors.  

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Peace Poster Contest Winner

I was happy to learn this morning my wonderful art student, Dylan Florence was selected to represent our region in the Lion's Club Peace Poster Contest.  His poster will be entered into the state-wide competition and we wish him the very best of luck.  Congratulations Dylan! A wonderful poster and a dedicated artist.
Congratulations to Sophia and to Ashlyn for placing second and third.  I am very proud of your efforts.
As I mentioned, we were hugely rushed to meet out deadline for this project.  I went back to my files looking for photos of the second and third place projects to post today, and I am heartbroken not to have them.  The posters were picked up before I could photograph them all.
Special thanks to all my students who shared their art in the spirit of peace.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Visions of Peace

Upper elementary students at Readsboro Elementary School are participating in the Lions Club international peace poster contest.  The theme this year is "Visions of Peace".  Students started work on these posters just three weeks ago by developing a rough draft.  We decided to participate this year on very short notice and students had just two weeks to work on their final entry.  These are large scale artworks and kids and we were really pinched to meet the deadline.  Our plan is to participate again next year, but to start much earlier in the year.
More info on the contest is available on the Lions Club web site:  http://www.lionsclubs.org/EN/our-work/youth-programs/peace-poster-contest/index.php

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Native American Parfleche

Fourth Graders at Currier Memorial School put the finishing touches on these beautiful raw hide bags today.  The bags were made in two art classes.  We used geometric designs to decorate the bags.  The designs are inspired by bags used by Cheyenne, Crow, and Lakota tribes of the American Plains.  These tribes were primarily nomadic.  They traveled by horse with the changing seasons as they followed the great herds across the American Plains.  Because they moved frequently, they needed bags like these to pack food, clothing, and other important items. These bags were typically made of raw hide, which can be made more quickly and more easily than buckskin.  Rawhide is a tough material and the bags are called Parfleches.  The word parfleche comes from the French words "pare" and "fleche" and means...deflects arrows.  Raw hide is tough enough to deflect an arrow and also used to make shields.
To make the parfleche we first looked at artifacts on this website. http://www.truewestmagazine.com/photo/slideshow/?id=95&photo_id=756&pos=1
We looked closely at the designs, focusing on the lines, shapes, color, proportion, and balance.  To create the design students were given three cardboard templates.  They used a 6"X6" square to outline the perimeter of the design.  They were also given a 3"X6" and a 2"x6"  template to help them sub-divide their square or to use as the wished as a straight edge.
After a rough draft was approved they began their final design on a piece of crumpled brown paper.  Students used crayons or colored pencils to add color to their designs.  We tried to remain true to traditional colors:  red, white, green, yellow and blue.  Students were asked to color heavily and completely.  They were instructed to continue their design onto the flap.  Then holes were punched and the sides were laced up.
This project is one part of a larger classroom based unit of study.  To see the parfleches and other Native American works in progress please visit the fourth grade classroom.