Friday, October 22, 2010

Second Grade Autumn Leaves (In Progress)

This is what the students have been working on so far:

Kindergarten - After exploring lines and shapes they were introduced to texture by creating leaf rubbings in various Autumn shades.  It was a bit difficult for students to create a clear rubbing since they had to use both hands to steady the paper and to use the oil pastel, however they enjoyed seeing their leaves magically appear on the top (for a different spin on the texture concept I might use hand-made texture plates or create a collage using scrap fabrics and materials).  Now they are exploring color!  This will be a three class sequence where students will learn that blue+yellow=green, blue+red=purple, and red+yellow=orange.  We began by first discussing all the things that are naturally blue and yellow (the sky, water, bluebirds, blueberries, the sun, bananas, sunflowers, lemons, and so on).  One row of students began with the blue paint and the other row of students began with the yellow paint.  After 10-15 minutes we switched colors and before you know it they realized that by mixing blue and yellow you make green!  At the end of class we discussed our discovery and went over a few things that are naturally green (green beans!!!).

First Grade - We began our Wild Things project by reading the Maurice Sendak book and going over the different animal features each Wild Thing had (like horns, scales, feathers, etc.).  We talked about what shapes we might use to draw the head, body, arms, and legs of our creatures and the various lines we might use to fill in their bodies.  Next week the students will use watercolors to paint in their creatures.  We'll talk about the difference between watercolors and regular paint, how to dip the brush in water first and then in the paint, how we can tell if we have enough paint on our brush, and so on.  It's really quite a process when you break it down!

Second Grade - The students are almost done with their Autumn Leaves paintings.  I introduced them to the concept of warm and cool colors (yellow, orange, and red for leaves/blue, green, and purple for the background).  We looked through a few photos from the Ken Robbins book Autumn Leaves and realized that leaves aren't just one solid color but go through a gradual process of changing from one color to another.  Afterward, we discussed what the term "background" might mean (the space around the subject) and I demonstrated using a brush and paint to first carefully and slowly outline a leaf and then paint the space surrounding it.  I think this might be a good technique for Second graders since they are still mastering material and tool use.  Once they are Third graders they could be introduced to the wet-on-wet technique (I actually began introducing this technique to one class but opted not to for the second class, since I was afraid the paper they were painting on might not be able to support that much water).

Second Grade Autumn Leaves
These were all drawn from observation.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Some Photos

I've finally managed to capture a few photos of some of the artwork...
Kindergarten Line and Shape Explorations on display in the stairwell. 
Beautiful variety of lines!
Such cheerful colors!
They look so nice hung on a red wall.
First Grade Picasso Harlequins
Second Grade Picasso Inspired Self-Portraits
  The students worked really hard on these and it shows!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Dream Book List

For the past three weeks I have found myself browsing the children's books section of my local library(s).  I love combining literature with my art lessons and find myself doing so more and more lately since I've been working exclusively with early childhood grades.  It's a wonderful feeling to have a group of kindergarten students eagerly raise their hands to guess what might happen next in a story and laugh hysterically when something silly happens.  This let's me know how interested they are in the book and it's a good indicator of whether or not my art lesson will resonate with them.  Often times I'll choose a book to either spark interest in a lesson or support it.  The following are a list of books I would love to use in future art lessons...

A great book about being individual and unique.  However, I would only use it knowing that the majority of my students actually live in homes as opposed to apartment buildings...after all, not everyone is lucky enough to live in a house (including me!).  This could make a great drawing/collage lesson for Kindergarten students ("What might your dream house look like?").
This book describes how animals use their different body parts for various jobs.  I think this would resonate well with Second Grade students...we could create painted paper much like the paper featured in the book and use the sheets to make animal collages.

A great book for a Spring art lesson focusing on birds.  The lesson could focus on various birds you might see in the Spring time, breaking up the parts of their body in various shapes, and using tempera to paint them in.
This book introduces the artists Picasso and Matisse and retells their relationship through humorous illustrations.  If the next artist we focus on is Henri Matisse then I'll be sure to read the students this book at the conclusion of the project (since we've already focused on Picasso).

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Lessons So Far...

Just to summarize what the lessons have been so far:

Kindergarten - Line Explorations with oil pastel (drawing/painting) VOCAB: Line
Shape Explorations with pre-cut shapes (collage) VOCAB: Geometric Shapes, Collage
Leaf Rubbings (emphasis placed on texture) VOCAB: Texture
The next Kindergarten lesson will either be based on patterns or using shapes and lines to paint their favorite animal. 

First Grade - Picasso Harlequins (collage) VOCAB: Harlequin, Collage
Since the Harlequins took three classes to complete, we will be beginning a new lesson this week.  Depending on certain factors we will either be creating multi-media still-lifes (flowers in vase) or a lesson based on "Where the Wild Things Are" by Maurice Sendak (with a focus on shapes and lines to create their own "wild things").
Second Grade - Picasso Inspired Self-Portraits (drawing) VOCAB: Cubism, Geometric Shapes
Autumn Leaves (drawing/painting) VOCAB: Contour Line, Warm/Cool Colors
The Second Graders just completed their leaf drawings in black crayon and will be using watercolors in various Autumn shades (emphasis on warm colors) for the leaves and cool colors for the background.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

First and Second Grade Lessons (Picasso)

So for the First and Second Grade Lessons I introduced them to Pablo Picasso.  Here are some points I made to each class:

- He was born in 1881 and died in 1973 (that gave him a lot of time to create artwork!)
- His father was an artist and art teacher
- He began painting realistically but moved on to paint in an abstract/cubist manner
- He created over 20,000 drawings, paintings, prints, and sculptures

For the First Grade class I added a bit of info about his Rose Period:
- He moved to Paris, France in 1900
- Rose Period lasted from 1904-1906
- Made use of orange and pink tones in his artwork
- Was inspired by the circus performers (specifically the harlequins/clowns)
(Given the opportunity to do this lesson again, I'd point out Paris, France on a world map)

So for First Grade we discussed the word "harlequin" and how it was the name of the type of clown Picasso was inspired to draw/paint while in Paris.  We looked at an image of a young harlequin boy he painted.  I asked "What are some things you notice about this painting?" and made a point to focus on the clothing (funny hat, ruffles, diamonds on his costume, etc.).  Diamonds are an essential part of identifying a harlequin from a regular clown.  Then I showed two images of contemporary clowns (focusing on just their faces) and we discussed the various geometric shapes found on them.  We went over the different geometric shapes we know and demonstrated how to cut them out of construction paper.  Then we thought up of different ways we can arrange these shapes to create a clown face.  Finally, we're going to incorporate a bit of newspaper by adding those essential diamonds on our harlequin's shirts (I'll discuss how Picasso incorporated newspaper in his collage pieces).  
Vocab: Harlequin, Geometric Shapes, Collage

For Second Grade we viewed two of Picasso's cubist portraits (Portrait of Dora Maar and Portrait of Marie-Thérèse).  Again I asked the students "What are some things you notice about these two paintings?" which they pointed out the colors, shapes, and the arrangement of facial features.  This is another project that focuses on geometric shapes and referenced the oil pastel blending lesson from the class before.  We drew self-portraits in Picasso's cubist style and used oil pastels to blend/mix the colors together to create new ones.  Finally, the students practiced their cutting and gluing skills by cutting out their completed self-portraits and gluing them on a fresh piece of construction paper.  I hope to hang their artwork in the hallways very soon!
Vocab: Cubism, Geometric Shapes

This lesson was inspired by the Picasso lesson on Deep Space Sparkle, a wonderful art teacher blog.

Monday, October 4, 2010


Hello there!  The purpose of this blog is to document the art lessons and activities that I present to children in a lovely little early childhood elementary school in New York.  I volunteer as the art teacher twice a week and visit grades K-2 in their classrooms (hence the blog name).  I thought this would be a great way to organize my art lessons and to share a bit of what I love to do.  Teaching art to young children has always been a dream of mine.  I hope that with my guidance the students will be able to visually represent their experiences, learn about various art forms and artists, and problem solve with fun materials like collage, paint, and clay!  I am always learning and trying to improve my lessons and instruction, so if you're a fellow art teacher please feel free to leave a comment!

The first week of classes was spent introducing myself, stating expectations, and introducing (or re-introducing for some students) the art material called oil pastels.  We discussed how an oil pastel is different from a crayon (oilier, softer, brighter color) and how we could use these qualities to blend/mix two colors together to create a new color (much like paint).  After this lesson I introduced the students to the Spanish artist Pablo Picasso (only for First and Second grades though).

Line Exploration Drawing/Painting
We discussed a variety of lines that can be created using oil pastels.  After naming different lines (curly, wavy, zig-zag, etc.) I asked the students to first "draw" a line in the air using their pointer finger as a pretend drawing tool; then I asked them to draw a line on my demonstration paper.  It's very important to get the students involved in the art lesson, especially at such a young age when their attention spans are still developing.  After this lesson we explored watercolor by adding it to various areas of our line exploration drawings.  This was a great opportunity to introduce proper paint usage (make sure brush is wet before choosing a color, clean brush before changing colors, swiping excess water on the edge of the water cup, etc.). 
(Remember: A line is a dot that went for a walk!)

Geometric Shape Collage
The students and I read the book "Mouse Shapes" by Ellen Stoll Walsh (part of a great book series that teaches concepts).  I pre-cut various geometric shapes (circles, squares, rectangles, triangles, and ovals).  We discussed how we could select and arrange these shapes to represent different objects (much like what the three mice did in the book).  Although this lesson did not exercise their cutting skills (much too early for that) it did allow them to make independent decisions on what shapes to use and how to arrange them.  We used glue sticks to adhere the shapes onto a large 11x14 piece of paper.  One thing I would do differently though would be to cut up extra shapes just in case.  For my second Kindergarten class I needed a few more so I had to cut up some squares and triangles on the spot.  Always be prepared!
Tomorrow I'll go over what the First and Second Grades are doing.