Friday, October 29, 2004
Two boys started this landscape painting and a third has joined them. Today
they worked with very small brushes. These boys really want to work
together on everything in my classroom.
A portrait and a still life. The still life artist told me that she was
influenced by a still life painting in last year's art show. She has been
thinking about painting this since last spring.
This student has been waiting eagerly for a spot in the painting "club".
She had made some much smaller paintings over the previous two weeks to prepare
for this large one. She will work on this for at least two more art classes.
The first graders are used to having those boxes of beautiful stuff available for their art making.
The second graders have happily begun to use them, after sorting leftover small objects from the first grade. Third grade students are very anxious to use the colorful boxes but must wait for now. It has been interesting to see how many students were able to make the leap into transformation; being fascinated by the objects as they are, and then changing them into something else. Not all the children can do this. I have second thoughts about introducing this experience to children from needy backgrounds. The lure of merely keeping the interesting objects to bring home may overshadow art making. I would be interested to hear other viewpoints on this.
Sunday, October 24, 2004
I am finding that children who are painting in their altered books are also
learning a lot about color and composition. This seems to be working better
for some children than painting on a plain piece of paper. Also, because the
painting is permanent in the book students are reflecting on the previous week's
The rather random cutting and gluing of images into the altered books is
beginning to evolve into a more thoughtful choice of pictures and an effort to
integrate the images on to the page. I am fascinated by the outcomes of altered
book work in my third grade class. This is all new to me!
Monday, October 18, 2004
He said: "mine is like Chinese calligraphy" and he set up a splash guard so
that he could add some action painting to his abstract.
Grade three students look briefly at four large poster-reproductions: one a still life, one a portrait, a landscape and an abstract work. I invite six students who really love to paint to work for three art classes minimum on 2 foot by 3 foot paper. I usually get five or six takers and while the rest of the class starts working in centers, this group meets with me at one table. I demo painting with water to sketch out an idea (instead of using pencil which with young children can be a recipe for disaster!) I demo painting with my whole arm which is so different from drawing! Then the painters set up their materials and begin. The other day Leo and Nick joined the painting group. I was pleased about this, and surprised. Both boys had spent nearly their entire two years in my room drawing in pencil or gel pen. Week after week. My gentle queries to tempt them toward other choices had elicited flat refusals. So there is Leo, setting up his paints and needing lots of coaching from more experienced painters. He very cheerfully called out: " Hey! I have never done this before!" Yes, Leo, I know. Nick chimed in that this too was his very first time painting. He used the menu to set up his paints. Both boys painted happily the entire period and their paintings are off to a great start. At the end of class I asked them about this. I told them that many teachers would have forced them to paint much earlier. They were adamant that they wanted to paint when they were ready and felt that they were doing a fine job. (they were) They are eagerly awaiting this week's art class (and are very excited to hear that I am writing about their work on my web log)
Choice teaching involves having so much faith in students. It is difficult sometimes. But when people are ready, they can learn anything.
Sunday, October 10, 2004
Beautiful Stuff: Learning with Found Materials
by Cathy Weisman Topal, Lella Gandini
In our school we are using some great ideas from Cathy Topal's book. In a preschool children learn counting, sorting, properties of materials, body and face information and sculpture by collecting and manipulating small found objects, or "stuff". Because of the large number of students I have and the limited time allotted we have only had a little "taste" of this engaging curriculum.
Following the suggestions in Topal's book we sent home a small lunch bag and attached letter to each first grade parent (about 170 in our school) The response was terrific and the next art class was used for celebrating, sorting and using the collections. I had purchased plastic boxes and had pre-sorted some objects into the following catagories: pink, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, black, tan/brown, transparent, shiny gold, shiny silver and grey. I had containers of unsorted small objects for children to sort if they were not able to return their bag. We sorted for about ten minutes and the conversations among the children were very interesting as they decided which container to use. Then they put their additional material aside, took a large heavy piece of cardboard (actually railroad board) and went to their favorite color. Choosing about a dozen objects they they traveled carefully back to their work table where there was glue, tape, scissors and markers. At first I tried to limit the children to one color--my art teacherish desire for a nice unified collage. My first two classes thought that was all right; my third group rebelled!!! "I need red AND blue!" and so on. So I let go of that and suggested that they BEGIN with their favorite color. Much better choice. One or two children in each class were so enchanted with handling and exploring the objects that they never completed a collage. Lots of great language emerged around the making of the collages. It was hectic for me...as sorting and making in the same 40 minute class is a stretch...but from now on the collection will be a permanent part of the construction area and I believe it has been worth the work. The older children are perishing to be able to use the collection also. Their ticket of admission to the boxes will be to help sort the many leftovers from the first grade.
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
This is a close up of a group project which has been ongoing since the
first week of school. Four girls have an imaginary pop band. ("The Pop
Princesses") They have created a stage, lights and costumes for these stick puppets.
This seven year old decided to weave a pattern with thick and thin yarn.
Many of my beginning weavers are not especially concerned with patterns.
Second grade students have learned the tabby weave and are using box lids as
looms. They seem to enjoy carrying them around with their extra yarn in the
box. Sometimes they take them out to recess.
Tuesday, October 05, 2004
Another sort of loom explored by grade two. This was created from bead
counting frames that were discarded by Kindergarten classes many years ago.