Friday, December 18, 2015

Navajo-Inspired Rugs with 2nd Grade

     (photo found in Google images)

(an example of a Navajo rug)

Navajo rugs are textiles created by the Navajo people of North America.  The rugs have been a  highly sought after item of trade for over 150 years.  When I worked in textile restoration (before teaching), I enjoyed restoring Navajo rugs and woven pieces from private collectors.  Before the 19th century, Navajo weaving coloration was mostly natural brown, white, and indigo. Over time, the colors expanded to include red, black, green, yellow, and gray.  

I came across a project from a book created by Denise Logan called "Amazing Art Projects for Children."  In the book, Denise shows step by step instructions on designing the rug patterns on paper.  I adapted by own methods for creating the rugs with my schedules and materials, which I list below:

-9 x 12 70 lb. or greater white paper
-Black permanent marker
-Colored washable markers
-Hole punch
-Various colors of yarn
-Examples of Navajo patterns

The 2nd grade students learned about Navajo culture within their classrooms.  For the project, students are introduced to the tradition of Navajo weaving and attempt to create their own design.  With the yarn, students learn how to loop and fringe their finished paper "rugs."

This projects takes about 3-4 40-minute class periods to complete.

Day 1:  I started with a discussion about the myths and traditions of weaving with the Navajo people.  I found this description that I share with my students:

         It is said that Spider Woman taught Navajos of long ago the art of weaving. She told them, "My husband, Spider Man, constructed the weaving loom making the cross poles of Sky and Earth cords to support the structure; the warp sticks of sun rays, lengthwise to cross the wool; the heddles of rock crystal and sheet lightning, to maintain original condition of fibers. For the batten, he chose a sun halo to seal joints, and for the comb he chose a white shell to clean strands in a combing manner." – Spirit of the Weaving Comb

I created a pattern example sheet from scrounging around my Pinterest boards:

Hand out the 9 x 12 white paper and have students create their own designs using the Navajo patterns as examples.  Once students are done drawing, have them trace in black permanent marker.  Use washable markers to color in the spaces.

Day 2:  Review the steps to create the patterns.  Finish tracing and try to have students finish coloring the entire page.  On your own, crumble the paper, dip in water, and un-crumble to create a tie-dye effect.  If you have a spray bottle, that will work too!  I lay out the wet paper on larger sheets of paper on the drying rack for support.  Once dry fold the paper in half and poke a total of 7 holes on the edge, so there are 14 holes total.

Day 3:  With most of the projects ready and hole-punched, Demonstrate to the students what length of yarn to cut, how many, and how to tie the fringe.  You may have students still finishing their coloring this day, as well as taking their time to fringe.

Day 4:  All projects should be tie-dyed (pre-dipped and hole-punched) and ready for fringe.  Have students complete the fringe and hand in their work.  I have students write their artists statements on a separate sheet of paper with their rubric.

Here are some finished examples!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Monochromatic Trees with 5th Grade

Have you seen this project floating around in the Pinterest pages, or have you been to a paint party/wine and canvas?  I've pinned the project for awhile and started trying it out with my 5th grade students last school year.

At the 5th grade level, I feel that students are "responsible" enough to work with acrylic paint.  I explain to students that the paint does not wash out of clothes (even though it does to an extent, I want students to understand the responsibility with the paint).  My classroom is also tight with no sink, so I use fewer colors for a smoother pass-out/clean-up.

With paint parties being all the rage, I want students to have the experience of working with canvas! Since I have over 100+ 5th graders, I work with canvas boards.

This can be a winter project, so you have a range of time to work with!

9" x 12" canvas boards
Acrylic paint (blue, white, and black)
paint cups (with a table of 4 students, I pass out 2 cups of each color to share)
water containers
flat edge and fine point paint brushes

The students will be introduced to monochromatic colors.  They will practice mixing the blue and white paint to create tints and shades of blue for the nighttime sky.

This project takes approximately 3 40-minute class periods.

Day 1: Explain the element of value and how colors can be created with white/black to make tints/shades.  I recommend finding your way of introducing the class.  Maybe to want to warm them up with a value activity sheet?  The canvas is passed out and students are asked to draw 5 circles total, which expand to the edge of the canvas.  Students are only given blue and white paint to fill in the inner moon and outer edge.  If you have time, explain how to mix the blue and white in each space to paint.

Day 2: Depending on how far you have made it with the blue and white painting, explain the color mixing technique again.  If students finish the sky, have them use black paint to draw in the tree branches.

Day 3: All students should be done with the sky at this point.  Re-explain the tree branches, as well as the moon craters and snow drops.  I have students use a fine small brush to dot the snow instead of splattering...especially in my small art space!  Students also write in their artist statements, which include their thoughts on the project and what they had learned.

Here's a few finished projects!