Wednesday, June 27, 2012

I adore cement!!!

                                                  Here are the sculptures still unpainted.

I sure love cement- it's dirt cheap, it's sturdy and it's possibilities are endless.......OK, it IS super heavy to carry up the stairs to the art room at 7:20am....but it's worth it!

I try to vary my lessons a lot between learning "skills" and letting the kids just "play" with materials. Art is much more investigation than it is following rules!! So for my sculpture enrichment students this past semester, I gave them Styrofoam plates, cement (I poured) and a ton of STUFF. There were no rules, no instructions, no reference points, nothing ;).

After the cement dried, we popped the pieces out and the kids arranged them on wood boards that I supplied. I brought a variety of glues they used to adhere the pieces. If the kid-safe glues were not working to adhere the way they wanted to arrange, I let the kids give me instructions then used epoxy. They painted the completed sculptures and boards to finish them off. I challenged them to cover every part of the cement so they would transform the material as much as possible.

Folk art and Folk Tale- Mexican Tin Ornaments and "The Woman Who Outshone the Sun"

 A stunning bird- I was very interested in how she added the papers on the side to compliment her piece. Wasn't that  great idea?!
 One student added a small sun that could be rotated around a brad ;).

 This student cut their tin up and made movable parts by connecting it with brads.

                                           Woman Who Outshone the Sun 

This was such an enjoyable lesson for me! I grew up in San Antonio, Texas and have quite an
attachment to Mexico so teaching my students a little bit about Mexican culture was wonderful.

We started by discussing fairy tales and why cultures create and retell fairy tales. We read the Zapotec legend, "The Woman Who Outshone the Sun". It's a beautiful tale about Lucia Zenteno, a stunning but different woman who was driven out of her village because the people did not like her. It was a great story to talk about respecting each other even when we are different from each other (LOVE it!!). We also discussed what type of animals, tress, plants and landscape we saw in the book.

 Next I talked with them about Mexican tin ornaments and what kind of images Mexican craftsman would use on their ornaments and why. I shared with them how geometric patterns were used in Lucia Zenteno's time as well as today.

The kids all chose something from the book as a starting point. I supplied many of them with pictures of iguanas, fish and other animals indigenous to Mexico that they saw in the story. They carefully drew their subject on small paper.

I think the best part for them was learning how to use a stylus. Thanks to NintendoDS, many of them already knew the word stylus ;). They transferred their drawings onto sheets of tin using the stylus. After they completed their outlines I encouraged them to add lots and lots of details so they would get a really good grasp of embossing into the metal. When the embossing was complete they used permanent markers to add color.

Many of the kids built little frames with cut up paper and markers around their tin pieces. They loved using brads to attach the tin!

I hope the kids enjoyed learning about Mexico, ancient fairy tales and learning how to emboss metal as much as I loved sharing it with them! I hope this coming year we can get more elaborate with the metal and make larger pieces.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Tissue Paper flowers

I am slowly going through my pictures of our projects throughout the year....hopefully I get them all up over the summer! These are pictures of the flower hairpieces that we made in May. We made them in the colors of the Mexican flag to go hand in hand with our wonderful Spanish teacher's end of year lessons.

During our Spring Showcase the girls wore these in their hair when they performed a traditional Mexican dance they learned. I am usually not a crafty art teacher and I typically don't like step by step instructions (although it's a great thing for kids to learn to follow directions.....I just use my 45 minutes a week with them for creativity ;)) but it gave me the opportunity to discuss the difference between fine art, craft and folk art. It also gave me a ton of inspiration and I launched a Mexican folk art lesson after this flower project (more on that later).

Working with the tissue paper was pretty tricky so it was a good experience for them to cut such lightweight paper, staple it and manipulate it. Needless to say, most of the boys weren't thrilled to make flowers ;). I struck a deal that if they made one flower they could use the rest of the art period to go back to working on their snow leopard masks. Worked like a charm!!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Odyssey of the Mind lesson with my 5th graders....

Our 5th grade class is great group of kids. One of them was having a birthday and another student asked if we could do a little something extra for her. Birthday girl is a big fan of the Hunger Games so I decided to do an Odyssey of the Mind practice lesson I had read months ago (another teacher at our school told me about Odyssey of the Mind several months ago and I've been hooked since then).

My exact numbers are surely off but it was something to the effect of- each team consists of 5-7 kids, they all get 20 pieces of spaghetti, 10 mini marshmallows, 5 straws and 5 address labels. They have 7 minutes to build a structure together that is at least 8 inches high and can hold the Styrofoam bowl I gave them. Then we add weights into the bowl one at a time and they get more points for the more weights it can hold. They also get points for extra height of the structure and TEAMWORK.

How on earth does this have anything to do with art?? ;) That's easy.....aesthetics. I continued to talk about the  challenge of building something as well as making it "look good". It's a problem that some artists, sculptors and architects deal with. As the kids were trying desperately just to make their structure stand up- can they envision how artists like sculptors and architects solve the problem of making their pieces aesthetically pleasing too?? Good conversation!

Also, practicing teamwork is essential in any class as well as art. I find creative people have a hard time with this sometimes (I sure do!) so I strive in my classroom to get my kids working in teams often. Practice makes perfect ;).

As an education obsessed parent and art educator I ADORE the type of divergent thinking that Odyssey of the Mind projects create. Maybe you are familiar with their site already but if not, check it out!!!

Monday, June 4, 2012

The winner of the Fort Kit ;)

I struggled this year with getting the kids to settle down the first few minutes of class ;). I can't blame walk in to a class where most of the time you get to talk while you "work", there are always super cool materials sitting at your desk waiting for you and you naturally want to get started!! I totally understand why it's a few minutes of excitement....however, I'm dying to teach and I need them to focus on me for just a little while so I can outline their "challenges" for that day.

To reward the students who remembered to walk in completely quiet, not touch their materials and wait for me to start, I began the "perfect entrance bucket". Super simple- I nailed a bucket to the wall and every time a student walked in with a "perfect entrance" I wrote their name on paper and put it in the bucket. I told them I would pull a name out at the end of the year and one of them would win a fort kit- made by me. These kits are all over the web and Pinterest (hello- addiction) and they are adorable. I had a blast putting mine together!!

I decided to pull two names. Matthew is in 3rd grade and he received an itunes gift card (his choice ;)) and Brooke is in Kindergarten, she brought home the fort kit. Both of these students are such a dream for me to teach! Helpful, engaged and kind- I was so happy to spoil them a little.

Thanks to both of you for working so hard!!!