Just before school started, my mind was racing with project ideas to kick off the year. I wanted each grade level to have an engaging first project, relevant to our curriculum, but also share a common theme. As project ideas started coming together, I created lessons for: kindergarten, first, fourth, fifth and sixth grade classes, around the theme of hands.
Sixth Grade: Pop-Artist, Keith Haring
Over the summer, I found a t-shirt with a Keith Haring graphic. The graphic depicted a hand, with fingers crossed, in front of a bold red circle. Around the hand were Haring's famous marks, and above was his signature. I knew this could be a great project for sixth grade, as they study Pop Art in the spring. I decided to incorporate American Sign Language in with the lesson and asked students to illustrate a sign, using Haring's graphic style and mark-making. Each student chose a sign from printed examples and library books. Students practiced drawing and coloring their illustrations in their sketchbooks before attempting the finial painting. Students then painted a single-color circle behind their chosen sign, and used permanent marker to outline their illustration and add Haring-inspired marks for excitement and/or movement. Each student finished the project with a large artist signature on their paintings.
Fifth Grade: Street-Artist, Michael Owen
I discovered Michael Owen's Baltimore Love Project online this summer. I thought this would be a great opportunity to introduce students to a contemporary artist impacting his community with a social message. Fifth grade students looked at photographs and watched a video clip about the project before creating their own murals. Paper buildings were made using 9x12" construction paper. I gave each student a printed example of the alphabet using hand shadows, similar to Michael Owen's murals. Students were asked to create a mural using hand shadows to paint a word of their choice on their paper building. Once the paint was dry, students were asked to create an environment for their building. Buildings ranged from city skyscrapers to country farm houses. Details were cut and glued on using construction paper scraps. Students worked together to create a large town map using their finished projects.
Fourth Grade: Hamsas from India
Fourth grade students begin their study of non-Western cultures by looking at art from India. A hamsa is a talisman in Indian culture thought to protect the owner. Depicting the open right hand, this image is found in many cultures throughout the world. Students carved several symbols to represent themselves and their interests. We used cardboard, aluminum foil and colored permanent markers to create the artwork. Once students had completed their foil hamsas, they chose a background color to mount their artwork on. We reviewed the concept of radial design, one we will continue using throughout the year.
First Grade: Modular Sculpture
Kindergarten: Action-Painter, Jackson Pollock
Kindergarten students begin the school year learning how colors are made. We read the story Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh, about mice who learn how to mix paint using the primary colors. I decided to try a Jackson Pollock-inspired marble painting with my kindergarten class. We used the primary colors of paint to begin our project. Each student was given a plastic box with a sheet of white paper inside. Then the student rolled a painted marble inside the box until all of the paint had transferred from the marble to the paper. We repeated this step with each of the primary colors: red, yellow and blue. Once the paintings were dry, students traced their hand-prints onto the back of the paper and cut the shape out. We mounted the hand-prints on primary colors of construction paper.
The past two years I have join the sixth grade team on their Outdoor Education field trip. Each teacher facilitates a different learning activity to engage students with their environment.
Several groups of around twelve students rotated among the different activities for two days while visiting the camp. For my activity, I introduced each group to the land artist, Andy Goldsworthy. Prior to the field trip, we watched a video of Goldsworthy at work. We then looked at photographs of his finished work before attempting our own creations at the camp.
(Below is the video we watched of Andy Goldsworthy creating, as well as photographs of his finished works)
At the camp, we walked along a path to a large clearing surrounded by woods, prairie grass and a creek. I explained the importance of preserving the wonderful environment around us. Students were to find materials from the ground, but without pulling plants or trees apart. Although we used materials similar to Goldsworthy, students were not permitted to leave their finished structures. I asked groups to dismantle and return materials to their original locations.
(Below is an image of the awesome classroom we worked in during the field trip)
After the expectations were established, students were allowed to work individually or collaboratively. They collected materials, then built and arranged interesting structures in the style of Goldsworthy. Each of the students used a digital camera to document their creations.
(Below are images of student work from 2013)
(Below are images of student work from 2012)
I had such a wonderful experience on this trip last year. As a first year teacher, this was a great opportunity for me to get to know my students. I learned from each group and I believe the trip helped all of us have a more meaningful school year.
STAY TUNED NEXT WEEK FOR THIS YEAR'S CREATIONS!
Mr. DeWilde's Blog
I post information about projects and learning experiences from my curriculum.