Sunday, April 29, 2012

Please Don't Eat the Art

See those right there?  See 'em? What do they look like to you? Popcorn? White cheese puffs?

Well they are all natural. They are made of cornstarch, but I wouldn't put one near my mouth. These splendid little objects are the new bio-degradable packing p-nuts found in all sorts of packages. I have been collecting them for about two years and finally reached a large enough quantity that we are ready to do some sculpture. (Teachers have donated the majority from many science packages shipped to the school)

I start off students with a paper base. We use a circle, however you can likely use any shape you want.

I used this specific size because I didn't want them to work too small.

Cut them out and don't forget to write your name on the back!

Now how do you make sculptures? We moisten each p-nut on a damp sponge. The material melts a wee bit and becomes sticky.

Then press the sticky end onto the base. Repeat this process and begin to stack p-nuts on top of each other. They can be stacked horizontally, vertically, and even diagonally.

I let students use about 20 of these p-nuts and build however they would like to. Some sculptures are tall, short, round, curly, etc. Each one is unique. I also have them choose their 20 before I show them how to stick them together so they don't later lose count.

After their construction, I encourage them to use vibrant color markers to eliminate as much white as possible.

I've seen materials like this in catalogs, but they can cost A LOT.  I was able to get all these free by simply asking people to keep an eye out for those particular packing materials.

I love these because you can make all sorts of connections: recycling, architecture, abstraction, etc. So many options. Clean up is minimal, assembly is easy for any age level, and if someone tries to toss one it isn't going very far.

This project takes about 1 forty minute class and can be loads of fun for that rather wild end of the year.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

What To Do During Testing?

The tests may have changed, but that week comes along every year.
Every year in the spring we have testing. It used to be the SAT, but we are doing some state organized test now. It always changes my usual schedule so I came up with a simple project that can be done by all my children easily and always has a great response. Everyone uses the same supplies and it seems to be a great release after a stressful morning of testing.
(**In fact this year I actually had a fourth grade class that walked into the classroom and started cheering when they saw the outline for the project on the whiteboard)

We create the Artful Idiom as I've come to call it. I have selected various idioms that would appropriate for each grade level. I then write the list on the board along with the meaning behind each one. Students are given a 9 x 12" piece of paper, pencils, and colored pencils to create an illustration of one of the idioms.

I tell students that I would like for their illustrations to be funny if possible. Draw the literal meaning of the idiom. Also, I would like to see the text for the idiom somewhere on their drawing.

Cool as a Cucumber

Cute as a Button

Couch Potato, by the way the couch potato is eating potato chips... oh the scandal!

The most popular idiom used by my students is Tough Cookie. I can see Karate dressed cookies, construction worker cookies, Football playing cookies, etc. Hilarious!

Some examples of idioms I use are:
Its Raining Cats and Dogs
Couch Potato
Cool as Cucumber
Tough Cookie
Bats in Your Belfry
Early Bird Catches the Worm
When Pigs Fly
Wait til the Cows Come Home
Blind as a Bat
Cute as a Button
A Leopard Can't Change His Spots
Face the Music
Apple of My Eye

I do have examples of Idiom drawings on the board for students to get ideas from. Many are ones I've created, but also from past students. Brainstorming ideas together before starting to draw is also an excellent idea. 

Poppin' Fish!

We are officially on Spring Break! So I finally have some time to update on a few little things we have been up to.This is a nifty little project that I learned at a state conference several years ago. Alicia, a very talented art teacher in my state shared this project and it has become a staple for me quite regularly for 2nd - 5th grade level students.

First I have my younger students trace a simple fish template, however my older students usually feel more confident so I have them hand draw out a fish shape. Then they draw an eye and lips if they would like to. Also, students are to draw a "fin" in the corner using any kind of line they would like...straight, curving, wiggly, etc. 
Then the fun part... adding patterns. Students draw patterns using markers and/or crayons to fill their entire fish.

The next class we first finish our patterns and make sure we don't forget to color our fin in the corner too!  Students then cut out the fish and the fin. I help the younger ones with this next step.

Students cut a curving line into the fish body to create a "gill". We need it to curve away from the mouth.

Then take the front half of the cut body and slide it over the back to overlap. This "pops" out the body. I will staple for the younger kids, however older ones can glue with a dot. Then the fin receives a dot of glue and is slid into this Popped gill to dry.

Lastly students glue the fish onto a piece of 9 x 12" construction paper in whatever color they would like. We just put a dot of glue on the dorsal fin, mouth, and tail. No need for it anywhere else. They can use crayons and markers to create an environment around their fish. As you can see my students can come up with some really awesome patterns. These examples are created by 3rd grade students.

I love this project. Simple 3-d and my students are always so proud of their works. Because of storage space, students nearly always take this project home on the second week after completion. This was a fun way to begin our break.

This project took 2 forty minute classes to complete. Our materials were the following:
1. 9 x 12" white drawing paper
2. 9 x 12" color construction paper
3. Markers
4. Crayons
5. Scissors
6. Glue
7. Pencils and erasers
8. Templates (if you so choose to)

Monday, April 9, 2012

Something Fishy Going on Around Here

The past two weeks my primary kids have been working on Ocean themed projects. There's a PTO program coming up and the halls are taking on a very nautical theme.

Last week kindergartners created Jellyfish sculptures. These were a huge hit! I know some people regard paper plates as a poor means of sculpture, but when I have zero dollars to spend on supplies and over 100 kids sometimes the paper plate is my best option. I try to do the most with what I have to work with. Besides, isn't this the prettiest little paper plate you have ever seen?

Students were asked to draw patterns with crayons onto the plate.
Next students glued long strings of tissue paper (purples, pinks, and whites) onto the straight edge of the plate. Students could even draw patterns onto the tissue paper tentacles. K students LOVE these! Especially the sound they make when we swam them back to the classroom.

This project took 1 forty minute class.
1 half paper plate, tissue paper in various colors cut into strips, crayons, and school glue.
One point I want to mention in regards to this project is the fact ALL my kindergarteners wanted to "Buzz" their jellyfish. I've discovered SpongeBob has lead our students astray into thinking jellyfish do in fact buzz. <insert a huge sigh here>

Then this week we have made Watercolor Resist seascapes!
We first drew the sand and seaweed together. But the rest was up to them. I had several posters of fish, whales, dophins, etc displayed on the board for reference. Students were allowed to draw any real sea creature or people who could also visit the ocean. Sunken ships and treasure were also options.

Look at the mer-couple! Even the crabs are holding hands. This is so cute!  When this child asked me "Can I draw a mermaid?" I asked her if that was a 'real' sea animal. She responded with "I believe in them." So I agreed to it. So glad I did!

Very alert crab!

(Love the Bermuda pink sand!)

Love when the page is filled!

Also the book fair is here this week, yay! These fantastic books made their way into my arms. I'm so excited about them.
Pete the Cat by Eric Litwin
You are My Work of Art by Sue DiCicco
Baby Bear Saw Blue by Ashley Wolff
Leap Back Home to Me by Lauren Thompson

Spring break is next week... finally.