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.
Fourth grade students have been studying cultures from around the world in art class. Students began their journey by describing the artwork and reading about customs from India.
This unit allowed students an opportunity to focus on the concept of radial design. By the fourth grade, students have learned a great deal about pattern in their previous art and general education classrooms. This year, while studying art from India, students identified how pattern may be balanced with the design extending from the center.
Both of the projects for our study of India required students to create a radial design. Images of textile patterns from India were presented on each classroom table for students to inspire their own creations.
Our first project was a mixed-media elephant painting. Each class identified colors and patterns used during India's Ganesha Festival. Students discovered the importance of elephants in this festival, as well as many beliefs and traditions in India.
Each student created their own mixed-media painting using colored pencils, watercolor and tempera paints. Students were encouraged to include at least one radial design in their composition.
Each student began the project by creating an environment for their elephant. Students used watercolor paints to create a landscape of their choice: desert, field, underwater, or even outer space! Students painted their elephants using tempera paint on a separate sheet of paper. Once the paper was dry, they cut their elephant out and glued it on their watercolor landscape. The elephant's blanket, face paint and other patterns and details were done with colored pencils.
We continued our study of India by creating personal hamsas. A hamsa is a talisman in Indian culture thought to protect the owner. Students carved several symbols to represent themselves and interests. We used cardboard, aluminum foil and tempera paint to create the artwork.
After students had completed their foil hamsas, they chose a background color to mount the artwork on. Once again, we reviewed the concept of radial design. Each student created a unique background using construction paper and permanent markers.
Since our study of India, students have continued a journey around the globe, studying the artworks of China and Japan. Soon we will be beginning a new unit, and students will create clay tiles using radial design inspired by Islamic art. I am particularly excited for this clay project as an opportunity to encourage philanthropy, a concept fourth graders are focusing on in their general education classrooms this year. More information and our finished projects will be presented at this year's Fine Arts Night at Oregon Elementary School on May 3rd!
Mr. DeWilde's Blog
I post information about projects and learning experiences from my curriculum.