Monday, July 28, 2014

Matisse-Inspired Cut-Out Animals with 2nd Grade

Henri Matisse is considered one of the most influential painters of the 21st century, and one of the leading Modernists. Known for his use of vibrant colors and simple forms, Matisse helped to bring in a new approach to art.  His style of painting is known as a "Fauvism," which means wild beast.  Later in his life, Matisse began to create cut out paper artworks, which are wonderful examples to share with 2nd grade students.  With this project, I combine matisse’s cut out style with animals in their environment.  Students choose their own animal, and create the background to match which environment that animal lives in.  Encouraging details helps students to identify the parts of the animal and the objects that would reside in their environment.

-10.5" x 16" light blue paper (or dark blue, depending on the time of day)
-12" x 18" colored paper for frame
-colored paper scraps

(Science Connection) Students will discuss animals and the environments they live in.  They should demonstrate their knowledge of animals and their environments by creating an artwork displaying an animal in its habitat.

(Art) Students will construct an artwork by using geometric and organic shares.  Students will also demonstrate perspective by creating the background first, and working their way toward the foreground.

I love this project because I'm able to use all the scraps I have collected over time.  I begin the project by briefly discussing animals in their habitats.  SInce Kindergarten, students have plenty of prior knowledge of where animals live around the world.  Next, I tie in the style of paper cutting by the artist Henri Matisse.  Once students see that famous artists have worked with materials they have worked with before, they are eager to try it out themselves.  

(40 minute class periods) Day 1: Start by having students create the habitat for the animal, which would be the background.  Explain what would be needed for the sky and ground.

Day 2: Give examples of basic geometric shapes used to make the main parts of the animal. Have students draw and cut out the big shapes first, the add the finer details on top.

Day 3: Final wrap up day for details!  Do the students have a sun or a moon? what about different colors for the water to show waves?  Does the animal have whiskers?  Spots? Stripes?  Once they're finished, add the 12" x 18" colored paper for a frame!

Here's some of the finished examples!  As many times as I say "no corner suns," they still sneak it in!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Rousseau Jungles with Kindergarten

Henri Rousseau was a French painter, who’s jungle pictures are an combination of memory images of his Mexican trip, visual experiences from visits to botanical gardens and zoos, and depictions of plants and wild animals he had seen on postcards and in photographs. 

-10.5" x 16" light blue paper
-12" x 18" colored paper for frame
-cut strips of brown paper
-pre-cut triangles of different shades of green paper (cut strips of 3" paper, then use paper cutter or scissors to slice diagonally for quick triangles)
-pre-cut squares (approx.  3" x 3") of greens, yellow, and/or orange paper
-white paper
-black marker
-colored pencils or markers

(Science Connection) Students will identify animals that live in the jungle, as well as the plant life that grows in the jungle environment.  Inspired by the paintings of Henri Rousseau, students will create their own jungle scene and hide animals within their environment.

This project can take about 3-40 minute class periods to make.  

On the first day, the students and I look at paintings by Henri Rousseau and identify the plants and animals in the jungle.  We then discuss how to create the jungle scene, starting with the plants and trees.  For the remainder of the class, students trim and glue down trees, branches, tree tops, tall grasses, and if time allows, a sun and fruit in the trees.

On the second day, I share ways to draw the animals using simple shapes.  Students choose at least 3 different animals for their picture, draw them on white paper, trace, then color.  I do not have students cut out on this day because clean-up is a mess with many little loose un-glued animals all over the ground.  

I've learned that leaving the cutting and pasting is best for day three, which also gives room for finishing touches (like the students who wanted to add a sun or finish a tree).  Have students trace a thin circle around the animals before cutting out.  This saves the trouble of having heads and tails accidentally cut off since students will have a line to follow instead.  Students can then glue down their animals wherever they wish in the jungle, as long as it's within where the animal should be (no turtles in the sky!).  When students have finished their jungle landscapes, glue a 12" x 18" paper to the back for a frame

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Imagination Doorways with 2nd Grade

When I was in early elementary school, I would have fun doodling (like any creative child), and I especially enjoyed making houses, doorways, and open windows with my notebooks.  On the first page, I would draw the outside of the house with detailed shutters that opened and doorways with arches.  I would use my pen to press through the paper and open the flaps.  On the next page in the notebook, I would draw what was inside the house with detailed bedrooms and other rooms inside the house.  

While I was planning my lessons one year, I was reminiscing on what I liked making in elementary school, and I came across one of my old notebooks with the drawings.  I thought if I enjoyed doing it so much, maybe my students would!  

This is a nice simple project that requires few materials and plenty of imagination.  When I introduced this project to the 2nd graders, I used the Chronicles of Narnia (Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe) as inspiration for the project.  My question to the students was: If you came across an imaginary doorway, what would be on the other side?

-9" x 12" white drawing paper
-black markers
-colored pencils

Students are to create their own doorway which reveals another world on the other side.  The doorway should reflect what the world may be, showing details to give us clues.

This project takes around two 40 minute class periods.  The first day is for the introduction and drawing of the door.  Students should draw a doorway, steps, trim, and an archway with details.  I like to have them trace to see the details more clearly.  After their first class, I begin cutting open the doors for them, so they are ready for the next part for the following class.  On the second day, I explain how to glue another piece of white paper to the back, then how to fill the inside space with their imaginary world.

There are times I get students attempting to draw a simple stick figure, so giving good examples will help students who need additional guidance on what to draw.

Here are some finished examples!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Spring Science + Art Projects for K-2

At the end of the school year, I was packing up the classroom like everyone else, except I had to pack for a cart next year.  With so many materials to put away, I was brainstorming on what project I could make with the primary grades with minimal materials, exciting for the students, and tied into their curriculum.  I decided upon two projects that could adapt for grades K-2, integrating science and literature, with a Spring theme.

Kindergarten Grouchy Ladybugs
Inspired by the story "The Grouchy Ladybug" by Eric Carle

Kindergarten students are very familiar with the work of Eric Carle, especially since I like to create lessons inspired by many of his books.  For this project, I only used white paper, pencils, crayons, and tempura cakes (with paintbrushes and water, of course).

We started by reading the book together, then identifying the many insects and animals the ladybug encountered throughout the book.  We also talked about where the ladybug lived and what insects would live in the same patch of grass and leaves.  I demonstrated to the students how to draw the grass, some of the insects, the ladybug, and left the other animals to the kids' imaginations.  Some students chose to work with just ladybugs, while others added different insects to their pictures.  Once the students were done drawing, the colored with crayon and painted with the tempura.  Easy clean up!

1st Grade Insects Studies
Exploring insects in nature

Did you know that if you googled "bugs in a jar," you'll get more art project images that pictures of jars?  This is one popular project with students because they not only love drawing the insects, but their studying the insects in nature.  Through art, they're also learning science by identifying the parts of the insect, what they eat, and where they live.  Having the tempura cakes out from kindergarten made it easy to share materials between grade levels.  To prepare the project, I created a packet with pictures of insects for the students to draw from.

The additional materials are:

-10.5" x 16" white paper trimmed into a jar
-black markers
-colored paper scraps for lids
-hole puncher
-tempura paint
-paintbrushes and water
-12" x 18" colored paper

We discussed together what insects we have in our own backyards and how we safely collect them.  Students like to take the time to identify the parts of the insect and what shapes are used to draw them.  Students had to draw at least 7 insects to fill their jar, watching their space and size of the insects.  Once drawn, they traced with black marker and painted in with tempura paint.  For finishing ouches, students glued their jars to colored paper, trimmed a lid, and punched holes in the lid before gluing down.

2nd Grade Insect Studies
The 2nd grade students were also introduced to the same project, but they were given a few extra responsibilities.  First, they were shown how to cut the jar shape themselves.  The 2nd grade students had previous knowledge of creating symmetrical designs with paper folding, so the task should not have been daunting.  The students also had to cut out their lids themselves to fit the top.

I don't always use one project for different grade levels, but since this one was introduced this past school year, the project will only be used for first grade in the future (so the next batch of 2nd graders will not have to do the project twice).