Thursday, October 11, 2012

Initial Art - First Grade

We started off the school year in 1st grade with this very cool initial art made using warm and cool colors. 

The first step was to figure out what our "initial" is!  This was the main vocabulary word for the day! This was a little tricky for first graders, and so some of them had to try again, but we  think everyone finally figured it out!  We painted our initial in with yellow tempera, and then decorated it with orange.  While our initials were drying, we learned about cool colors and abstract art as we created this decidedly cool background.  I gave the children creative freedom with this. The only rule was that I wanted them to use all the available cool colors and they were to fill their page with color.

After we were done painting the background, we cut out our large "warm" initial and glued it down on the paper.  This was the hardest part.  Some of the children struggled a bit with cutting, but if they made a mistake, we just glued all the parts down and it worked out great!

Back in the classroom the teachers helped the children write about the project to reinforce the sounds that were in their name, and what exactly an "initial" is.   The next week, we came back to art and created name art using all the letters in their name.  While most of the children know their letter sounds, these lessons were designed to provide some reinforcement and help for the lower students who have not quite mastered these skills.

Leaping Into Space - 2nd Grade

We started off year with a very fun 2nd grade project,  "Leaping Into Space!"  

To create this project, we divided each 2nd grade class into four groups and each group created their very own mural. 

Before we began, we talked about space and looked at pictures taken by the Hubble telescope.   We talked about how it would feel to fly in space with our friends.  As part of this project, each child created his or her own self-portrait,  a moon in one of the phases and some funky stars.  As a group, the children painted "space" background and an earth.  The children had fund arranging their children on the poster and writing about their experience.  

Murals with writing samples.

Each group wrote their own little poem about their mural.

A closeup!  I gave the children a basic template they could trace if they were hesitant about drawing their own self portrait.  They added their own features, hair and clothing.  We  outlined the portrait with a sharpie and then colored then with crayola markers, using the multi-cultural markers for the skin tone.

Every portrait was unique and fun.  This little boy did not use the template and felt confident about drawing his picture.  I hesitated at first using a template, but I think it gave children confidence that they could create a picture in the general size and shape that it needed to be.  We did this whole project in just one art session, so my main focus was on helping them get started with the portrait process.  Then the classroom teacher helped them color their portraits while I took each group one at a time to paint their background.  

To paint the background, first we all painted the paper black using watercolors and lots of water.  We used liquid watercolor to spray constellations and colors on the background.

We talked about how galaxies have a "spiral" type shape and the children looked at photographs taken by the Hubble telescope to give them ideas.  Once we finished the background, each group made an "earth" by spraying green and blue on a paper with liquid watercolors and then cutting out a circle shape.

I encouraged the children to personalize their portrait with clothing similar to what they liked to wear.

Such a cute little self-portrait!

This is a sample of student work before they cut out their self portrait.  I allowed them to make character moons if they wanted too.  We did a moon project in 1st grade, so the children already knew how to draw the profile of the man in the moon.  Notice that we drew the ENTIRE circle and shaded in the portion of the moon instead of cutting out the crescent.  I wanted the children to have an accurate understanding of the moon phases.

About half way through the project I drew this little reference sheet to help the children with hairstyles. This is the hardest part of the self-portrait project, and at this age, I am trying to get them to look first  and then draw.  I told them this would just give them some basic ideas and that they could create their own "cartoon" type hairstyle, similar to creating a figure on their Wii.

These were my little template people.  I printed them on cardstock and then the children put a white piece of paper over the template and then used a pencil to draw it "their" way.  The template was optional but it helped the children find the basic body shape and size.  We started with the pants and shirt, but then drew some slimmer profiles to allow children to adapt it more easily for different clothing styles.   The children added their own clothes, hair and facial expressions.

Some very cute girls flying in space!

Spiderman was popular with the boys with year. It surprised me at first, and I didn't want to discourage the children,  but I did remind them that this wasn't a Halloween self-portrait, but rather a portrait that would illustrate them in clothing they might wear everyday so their parents might recognize them!  Spiderman sure is cute though!

After the backgrounds were dry, each classroom teacher helped the children create the mural in their own classroom and also helped the children write about the project as part of their regular classroom instruction.  The writing was part of the Common Core ELA.W.5.   If you are doing the entire lesson, it will probably take 2 one hour sessions to complete. This lesson could easily be adapted for children of all ages.

This lesson was integrated the Science Core Standards, learning about space and understanding patterns in the night sky, including the phases of the moon.

The inspiration for this lesson came from a photo on page 99 in the Crayola Dream-makers lesson book After School Programs.

I am writing up this lesson plan in detail and will be online shortly.  I will post a link here when it is finished.

Photos of Construction

For those of you following the construction of the school, the secretary shared these very cool photos of what it looked in the middle of the construction process.  I thought you might enjoy these as much as I did!

One of the young construction workers talked to me the first week of school and told me that when they knocked down all the walls, there were working in a big black hole.  There was no electricity and no lighting while they were rewiring the school, so they brought in portable lights.  The above photo shows the remains of the old library.

All the dividing walls were knocked down.  I can't really tell where this is in the building.

I think this is looking down the main hall, and the art room should be on the right.   Again, I am not sure exactly where this is!

The plumbing was the only thing remaining from our old sinks and coat closets. This was later removed and the entire school was re-plumbed to install a sprinkler system.  Each classroom got a new sink... and if you remember from our earlier post, the art room now has four sinks!  I posted another picture of the sinks at the end of this blog post.  It is so nice to clean up at the end of the day!

 The upper rafters.

 Another view of the old library looking toward the office.

This whole remodeling project has been fun for me to watch.  It has been harder moving into a new room with not much time to get ready for the beginning of school.  Once classes started, the organization has become more difficult, but I am gradually getting the feel of the new room and slowly getting it arranged so that it is conducive to education.  Even with beautiful new cupboards, all the teachers in the old part of the school realize that we used to stash a lot of stuff in those old coat closets!  It has been a bit difficult to find room for everything.  In spite of that, we are so thrilled with our new school building.  The morale is high and it is such a pleasure to walk down the halls. 

Looking down the hall the Saturday before school started.  What a difference!

 This is the beautiful new wall in the art room!  In talking with the head of construction,  he told me that  usually they would never attempt to finish a project of this magnitude in just 3 months.   So all in all, it has been very amazing to watch them pull it off.  We still have workers in the school finishing the minor details and the building inspector has been here a few times to make sure everything is perfect.  

I would like to thank our administration, the school board and the community for their support in creating such a beautiful school for our children.