Thursday, January 26, 2012

Ndebele Hut Sculptures!

I have spent the last three weeks with my 4th graders discussing a culture of people from south east Africa known as the Ndebele. (En-duh-bay-lay) These are a very creative group of people who are also very traditional and continue the practice of building homes with beautiful geometric designs.

We started off with a piece of 6 x 18" long drawing paper. Students were given the option of choosing a shape for the door to be drawn in the middle of the paper. From there, students were to draw geometric shapes to create designs on each side of the door. The rule was that I wanted it to be symmetrical. Each side needed to match closely. We traced our designs with permanent marker.

The second day we worked on this project students finished tracing their designs with marker, then colored with crayola markers. This project could be colored with crayons or even painted with watercolors or tempera. Its whatever you feel most comfortable doing.

The third day students completed coloring and we began turning our flat paper into a cylindrical sculpture. Students rolled their houses into a cylinder and glued the two ends together.  Then they traced a large circle onto a 9 x 9" piece of brown construction paper. They cut the circle out then cut a radius into it.

Students brought me their roof circle and cylinder house. I stapled the roof into a wide cone, then hot glued the roof to the cylinder. You could have students do these independently, however I felt this would complete the project most efficiently if I helped them along.

These all turned out differently and I love the results!  Our school librarian has graciously allowed us to display our huts in the library. They are quite the hit!

There is also a good story book out there called the Village of Round and Square Houses by Ann Grifalconi that makes a great reference for this particular project. Feel free to google Ndebele. They are a fascinating people!

This project took 3 forty minute classes to complete. Makes a great interdisciplinary connection to geometry, shape, and symmetry in 4th grade math studies.
This project is inspired from a lesson I got at my 2009 state conference.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Polar Bear Portraits

We completed a one day project with my second graders today. We discussed what a portrait was and fun facts about polar bears. Usually we draw snowman portraits, but I thought it would be fun for a little change.

These are the steps for this drawing. I showed students each step and they first drew together with pencil on light blue paper. Then traced with black crayon. We drew "rainbow" lines for ears, two circle eyes, an upside down triangle nose, and a smile.

Students colored their scarves with patterns. Patterns were colored with construction paper crayons (love them!). Then students colored in the body and drew snowflakes with a white oil pastel. I have used white crayon for the coloring before, but white pastel really does turn out so bright!

We completed these drawings in one forty-minute class. I love the way these turned out. Each one is unique!

One quick pointer, when coloring oil pastel emphasize the importance to color 'around' the face detail with the oil pastel and not on top. That oil pastel can cover up all that hard work quickly if done without notice.

9 x 12" light blue paper (although you could use any color)
Pencils and erasers
Construction paper crayons
Black crayons (could substitue with permanent markers)
white oil pastels (or white crayons)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Winter Collage

Winter time is here which makes for excellent subject matter!
This week at the primary level I have students creating "Snovals". Typically one thinks of a snowman being created from circles, but we are trying to make our snowmen unique with an oval instead. This idea came from an Arts and Activties lesson I saw several years ago.

I like this project because its another opportunity to recycle. I love wrapping paper especially for the variety of prints and ease to cut.
We begin by reading Snowmen at Night. Excellent book! And I point out the variety of shapes in the snowmens' clothing. Then we then practice drawing an oval in the air by "stretching" a circle. When they have the hang of it in the air, then we draw it on a 9 x 12" piece of white paper (although smaller can work too). Students cut out their oval then draw two black circles for coal eyes and additional circles for the mouth.

After that students use a scrap of orange paper to cut and glue on a carrot nose (triangle). Then the fun begins. I tell all students to create special clothes to keep their snowmen warm on cold nights. This can include mittens, scarves, hats, boots, etc. Students use scrap wall paper and wrapping paper to clothe their snowman. Students could also draw on buttons with black crayon or cut out of color paper.
Each one is unique and incredibly fun! I did this with K, 1st, and 2nd graders.

Love the hat on this one!

 white paper
black crayons
orange construction scrap and all sorts of fun printed papers (wrapping paper is great after the holidays)

This project can take 1 to 2 forty minute classes depending on how you present it.

Next week, I originally planned to create snowman portraits... but I'm thinking of changing it a bit. Polar bear portraits may add a bit of variety to our usual subjects. They appear very much the same other than changing the face and a few other details. Yes... Polarbear Portraits seems like a fun venue.

This looks great with construction paper crayons and white oil pastel. We draw out the shapes first with pencil, then trace with black crayon and color. This project is great for discussing portraits and perspective/view.  

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Birds of Winter

And we're back!

This week we returned to school. I had a work day yesterday and hung up several winter pieces that my students did before the break. Third grade created Penguin Mix Media pictures (inspired by project I saw on the Kids Artists blog) . We used the following materials and this took two forty-minute classes to complete.
Black wrapping paper (but any old paper could do)
White scrap paper
Orange scrap paper (construction scraps)
White tempera
9 x 12" blue construction paper
Wrapping paper in all sorts of prints

Just some pointers. I used black wrapping paper because it was shiny like the body of a penguin would be. The body is an upside down U or a rainbow. We glued those down on the blue paper. Assembled the remainder of the body parts using simple shapes and then used old christmas wrapping paper for the mittens and ear muffs. Scrap wrapping paper left over from Christmas is my new favorite material to work with in collages. The second day we painted the snow with sponges on the ground then forks for the snowflakes in the sky. These always have fun results!

My fourth graders created Winter Cardinal paintings over the three weeks before we let out for the holidays. I got this idea from and really liked the way we were able to discuss the difference between positive and negative space during the course of this project.

The first day of the project we looked at a picture of a cardinal and drew out the bird and tree. I emphasized the fact that healthy tree branches grow up diagonally...not down. Otherwise something bad has happened to their tree. We then only painted the negative space (empty space) light blue. The second session students painted the positive space (objects, important things) in the art work using red, yellow, black, and brown. The last session we outlined with sharpie (brown and black can work well) and lastly painted snowflakes with the handle end of a paintbrush. I have so many with excellent results and the faculty love them!

This first week back is short so to keep all my classes on schedule we are doing some one day cartoon drawings. Next week I will begin my African unit. All three grade levels will create their own African inspired art... So Excited!!