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6th Grade Projects

6th Grade T-Shirts

For our first project we took a closer look at the screen-printing phenomenon that has been a key part in modern fashion.  We learned about the rise of the ‘T-shirt’, expressive lettering/typography, and evaluated what makes a “good” design and what makes a “bad” design.  Each student created a design that would be voted upon by the entire 6th grade as the main image of the t-shirt they would use for tournaments, field trips, and graduations this year.  Myself, and the 6th grade teachers narrowed it down to 6 choices for the front of the t-shirt, and below was the design that won the most votes as determined by the 6th grade.  There were some really great designs that had awesome t-shirt potential!  (We chose the back design from the student entries without any votes).

Our Learning Target:

I can create a “good” t-shirt design based on my understanding of the requirements, “expressive lettering”, and what makes a good design on a printed t-shirt.

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Joint Project: Fantasy Space Art and Artist Trading Cards (ATC’s)

These two projects were created simultaneously because the Fantasy Space Art required time-sensitive steps (drying time).  Both the construction of the Artist Trading Cards and Fantasy Space Art landscapes required each artist to build the image up in layers, and have the spatial understanding of which items would be in the foreground, the middle ground, and the background.  To see more information about the fantasy space art landscapes visit here.

Artist trading cards are unique pieces of artwork that are created and traded – just like baseball cards.  Within the creation process of their artist trading cards, I required that each student use Zentangle as one of their layers.  Zentangle is a doodling phenomenon that reminds me of doodles you may do during class or at a meeting – while you’re still listening of course!  There are tons of YouTube videos about how to Zentangle, a Zentangle blog, AND how-to drawing books.  These doodlings are very calming (hence the zen :)), and when layered with other materials, creates really cool pieces of artwork.

Our Learning Targets:

I can apply Zentangle techniques to create my artist trading cards.

I can demonstrate my understanding of layering and collage in my space art and artist trading cards.

(Our creation tables… :), some ATC’s and Fantasy Space Art)

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Joint Project: Flat Pack Toys and Cubed Self-Portraits

For our next artistic adventure we took a closer look at the human in three-dimensional form.  Our inspiration for this lesson was the artist, Marisol Escobar, whose wooden, geometrically formed human sculptures, were a unique invention to the art world – something that hadn’t really been seen before.  It was said that she could capture the essence of the person’s personality in the construction and creation of these three-dimensional portraits.  Emphasis throughout the project was comparing 2-D to 3-D, and how to problem solve to achieve a proportional cubed-self when working from the organic human form.

To prepare us for own construction of 3-D self-portraits we went through the process of creating a Flat Pack Toy.  The flat blueprint was filled in with colored pencil to resemble each 6th grade artist – a self-portrait – then cut, folded, and glued together to create this mini 3-D self-portrait.  Students then used these folded forms of themselves to assist them in the construction of their cubed selves.  We used model magic to create each cube.  I liked using the model magic, because once dry it can easily be decorated with regular or permanent markers and it’s light-weight – the only downfall is that it is more expensive than clay.  Each student used three cubes: one for the head, one for the torso, and one for the legs.  And as a special note, tacky glue works best for all aspects of assembling these cubed-selves!

This project used more days than initially planned, but the results are spectacular!  Some of the resemblances are truly uncanny!   I think having time-sensitive goals in the future for this project (and others) will help to keep our artistic and creative pursuits on schedule.  🙂

Our Learning Targets:

I can explain the difference between 2-D shapes and 3-D forms.

I can transform a 2-D drawing into a 3-D form using paper and Model Magic.

I understand that a self-portrait (2-D or 3-D) is a picture or sculpture of me.

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Face Jugs (Preview!)

We are beginning our clay project for 6th grade – African American Face Vessels!! These face jugs have been traced back to a specific county in South Carolina in the mid-1800’s.  Their purpose is explored in this video, but it is believed that slaves made these to continue and remember their African heritage, as they resemble African masks and statues. They may have served as grave markers, or good luck totems to keep bad luck away.

As in every clay lesson, we review the life of clay and its journey from the ground, to the kiln, to its function (as art, dishware, or otherwise).  This project really emphasizes attaching clay correctly using the score and slip method, scratching the surfaces to be attached (like Velcro) and then adding water (to serve as a glue).

To begin the base of the cup, each student created a pinch pot and flattened it out so it could begin to support the coils as they were attached, built-up, and smoothed.  Once the cup was tall enough, the facial features could be added – of course, using the score and slip method. I always remind my students when using clay to never have a project or piece be thinner than your pinky or thicker than your thumb – this prevents break and cracking, as well as trapping air and causing kiln accidents.

I’m excited to see how the rest of these turn out!! 🙂

Our Learning Targets:

I can use my time wisely to complete my face jug.

I can make a pinch pot and use coils to construct the cup.

I can use the score and slip method to attach clay pieces.

I understand the process of creating ceramics.

I understand these face vessels originated in the 1800’s and were made by African American slaves.

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5th Grade Projects

Flowing Line – Op Art

Art with Mr. E’s blog has many fun and inspirational projects and I couldn’t wait to start the year off with this fun optical illusion!  Op Art was a significant art style that arrived shortly after the era of Pop Art (the 1960’s).  Victor Vasarely and Bridget Riley have been considered the king and queen of Op Art, creating illusions that convince the audience they are moving and have depth.  It really is amazing the illusions that can be created by altering the size, shape, repetition, and colors of lines

I have put a pause on this project as it was taking more weeks than planned, but we will DEFINITELY get back to it – we have such a great start!

Our Learning Targets:

I can follow the process of creating this “illusion”, being careful to follow the same lines every time, to and from the dots.

I can use shading techniques to further the illusion of depth.

A glimpse at the process – for a closer look at how to get started click “Art With Mr. E” above 🙂

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Sugar Skulls: 2-D vs. 3-D, and Symmetrical vs. Asymmetrical 

These Sugar Skulls (calaveras) inspired by Dia de los Muertos were an extended study of two-dimensional versus three-dimensional art, as well as symmetrical versus asymmetrical design.  Because our students have the privilege of learning the Spanish language throughout elementary school, they are already familiar with the holiday of Dia de los Muertos, and it’s interesting to see their knowledge expressed in a tactile way. We practiced drawing sugar skulls using this website.

We created our 2-D, symmetrical designs by folding our skulls in half lengthwise, filling only one half of the skull, flipping over and tracing the other half with a light box (like those that display xrays – but are awesome for seeing through paper to trace!) to get a perfectly symmetrical design.

We began our 3-D, asymmetrical sugar skulls by crumpling up newspaper, wrapping with masking tape, then using paper towel strips dipped in mod podge and/or paper mache mix to create the hardened shell.  We then painted, added design with permanent marker, and sealed with gloss medium. (I loved this idea of the 3-D skull when my practicum teacher taught it!)

Our Learning Targets:

I understand the art and practices of Dia de los Muertos.

I understand that Sugar Skulls are made for Dia de los Muertos.

I can create my calavera using symmetrical design.

I can explain the difference between 2-D shapes and 3-D forms.

I can demonstrate my understanding of symmetrical and asymmetrical design.

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Abstract Color Wheels (Preview!)

I feel it’s extremely important to study color theory at each grade level, whether it’s learning basic vocabulary, mixing colors, or both.  I found this idea for an abstracted color wheel in the monthly Arts and Activities magazine.  In addition to the tints, shades, and primary and secondary colors we use in this project, we familiarized ourselves with additional color vocabulary: intermediate colors, neutral colors, warm colors, cool colors, analogous colors, complementary colors, and hue. To get to know each color on the color wheel (and a few neutral colors) a little better we did this stick activity as a whole group then in partners.

To create these abstracted color wheels students made 6 areas of roughly the same size on their whole page (we traced over the lines of these areas with colored pencil to eliminate confusion later), then within each area 5 sections were made.  Each area would then feature a primary or secondary color and two of its tints and shades.

So: 6 areas, with 5 sections each – in one area: 1 hue (main color no mixing), 2 different tints of that hue, 2 different shades of that hue – 1+2+2=5 sections

Our Learning Targets:

I understand the primary colors can be mixed to make almost all other colors.

I can mix primary colors to make secondary colors.

I can use white and black to mix tints and shades of colors.

I can use color vocabulary.

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4th Grade Projects

Lego Self-Portraits

What a fun way to start off the year!  A modern spin on a self-portrait.  Fourth grade were my guinea pigs on this lesson – I saw the idea on a blog (and can’t remember it now!).  Legos have always been a favorite toy ever since their inception in 1949 in Denmark.  Growing from basic colored bricks, there are now sets related to movies, cartoons, careers, cars, princesses, super heroes, architecture, etc., and entire amusement parks dedicated to these creative little bricks! Though we explored basics of creating realistic faces, the fun part was adapting these features to that of the Lego Mini Figure with its geometric body, and cartoon-like facial expressions.  I am very impressed and look forward to doing this in the future!

Our Learning Targets:

I can follow the step-by-step process of face-mapping to draw and accurate and proportional face.

I can draw my Lego self-portrait using the figure and steps I was shown, and make it resemble my hair, clothing, and facial expression.

I can draw a Lego figure that looks like me, and fill it in smoothly and carefully with colored pencil.

I can draw a neat background that fills the page and is related to my Lego-Me.

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Color Wheel Balloons

This project took a few more days than planned, but the results definitely speak to the student’s understanding of color theory and color mixing!  Understanding color theory, color terms, and knowing what colors make others, is not only essential in the world of art, but other walks of life as well.  Some great examples students came up with were those such as hair dressers, decorators, if you’re painting your house, if you’re painting a sports field, if you do fashion, if you’re designing logos, designing video games – and so many more – what can you come up with?!  Our emphasis was truly upon familiarizing ourselves with color vocabulary and working the with colors of the color wheel, including the primary, secondary, and intermediate colors.  Though it only covers the primary and secondary colors, one of my favorite videos to show (K-6) is this one by Ok Go, originally made for Sesame Street.   We also did this stick activity to identify colors as a whole group, then in partners.

For the project we were inspired by the penguin image below and the movie Up, about a  house being carried away buy a large bunch of balloons.  The kiddos were only given blue, red, and yellow, and were required to mix their own secondary and intermediate colors in the creation of their own balloon bunches. The bunches needed to contain seven balloons – 6 around 1 center balloon.  The six balloons need to be the primary and secondary colors in the correct order of the color wheel.  Where these balloons overlapped (like a Venn diagram), the appropriate intermediate color was painted.  These balloons then represented the 12-color color wheel painted in the correct order.  The center balloon could be an intermediate color of the student’s choice, and where that chosen intermediate color overlapped with the balloons surrounding it – the students mixed the result of those two colors as well.

They were given freedom as to which animal (real or imaginary) their balloons would be carrying away – I think they turned out GREAT!!

Our Learning Targets:

I can demonstrate my understanding of color mixing in class discussion, partner activities, and painting my balloons.

I can use the correct terms and vocabulary when talking about color.

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(Our inspiration)

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Sticks for Color Activity mentioned above.

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Color identification partner practice and color mixing practice.

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Keith Haring Positive/Negative Moves!

Taking inspiration from our field trip to the Pappajohn Sculpture Park in downtown Des Moines, we decided to create people frozen in motion in the artistic style of Keith Haring.  After taking a closer look at some of Keith Haring’s images and his unique way of creating the cartoon figure of a human, we took turns posing and sketching only the outline of the person in action.

To make the actions and movements more realistic for our final image we incorporated the wooden mannequin – a drawing tool.  We go through a drawing process of a person with semi-complex details, to a simplified silhouette (outlined shadow or shape) of a person.  The mannequin helps artists to draw humans in an accurate and proportional way because the ‘joints’ can move in the way a human’s does.  To begin the drawing, it is easiest to draw each wooden piece as you see it in front of you, then once that is done, outline the basic shape to achieve the first outline shape, and then alter the outline to your preferences to achieve the final shape of the silhouetted person in motion.

Because some of Haring’s images are so simplified, using only two colors in some images, I thought this would be a great way to introduce the idea of positive and negative space.  We took a closer look at something that would be positive in an image (the first thing your eye sees, the main object), and the negative space of an image (the space around, behind, or between the main object), then explored positive and negative space with the Seeing Outside the Box cards, as well as the clever silhouette advertising of Apple products.

To refresh our memories about silhouettes and positive and negative space we studied more Seeing Outside the Box cards, and read the book Mother, Mother I Feel Sick… by Remy Charlip.

Our Learning Targets:

I can draw a human figure in the cartoon style of Keith Haring.

I can use the wooden drawing mannequin to draw the first stage of my person in motion.

I understand the difference between positive and negative shape and space.

Haring’s sculpture at the Pappajohn Sculpture Park, downtown Des Moines:

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Here is a quick look at our process – final project pictures to come!

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3rd Grade Projects

Klimt Trees of Life

The 3rd grade students received SOOO many compliments when these were up in the hallway!  Their hard work was really evident in the carefully painted and drawn swirls reminiscent from the original Gustav Klimt Tree of Life.  We discussed the concept of the tree of life and how it is depicted in many different cultures.  We noted Klimt’s fondness of gold and intricate patterns and details, while making careful observations of the patterns and shapes seen in Klimt’s Tree of Life.

Our Learning Targets:

I can demonstrate my understanding of Gustav Klimt‘s painting style by producing my own version of the Tree of Life.

I can take my time to carefully paint the swirls of the tree, and demonstrate my understanding of Klimt’s style by creating symbols similar to his.

I can use pastels to add pattern and design to my tree inspired by Klimt’s symbols.

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Meet Me in the Middle Self-Portraits

This project was borrowed from my practicum teacher and her blog.  The kiddos are so proud of their results, and I am honestly blown away with their confidence and abilities to rise to this drawing challenge. Leonardo da Vinci, one of the most influential artists to develop and identify universal facial proportion (among his other extremely famous paintings and inventions), was our inspirational artist for this project.  We really took our time to practice and grow comfortable making portraits with correct proportions in order to make them look realistic.  We concentrated on specific features, perfecting them as much as we could before beginning our final portraits.  To help our shading practices we created a value scale to help us match the correct values for different parts of the face – what truly impressed me with these self-portraits was the amazing shading that really communicated the realism the THIRD GRADERS were aiming to portray.  These are amazing! Bravo!

Our Learning Targets:

I can follow the face-mapping process to create a realistic portrait.

I understand that realistic faces aren’t just one color, tint, or shade.

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Warhol “POP” Cans

After closely observing the face to produce their amazing Meet Me in the Middle self-portraits, I felt it only natural to continue this great practice of observing and recording with an everyday object.  Andy Warhol is one of the most, if not the most famous, Pop Artist of all time.  Pop Art was really influential in the 1960’s, bringing the mundane, everyday item to the fine art world.  We got to know Andy Warhol and his series of Campbell’s Soup Cans to find inspiration in our own mini series of pop cans.  (Pop can and “Pop” Art is also a fun play on words :)).  One of the two drawn cans needed to be colored with the exact colors of the real pop can, while the second can could be colored however the student chose in order to simulate the bright colors often found in Pop Art. Here’s a link to this project on my old blog.

Our Learning Targets:

I can draw a pop can from observation.

I can create a realistic looking cylinder.

I understand the ideas, colors, and objects used in Pop Art.

I understand that Andy Warhol was a famous Pop Artist.

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1st Grade Projects

Crazy Hair and Treasure Maps

Our first Kindergarten (I only have one section of them) and 1st grade project concentrated on noticing and creating different kinds of lines, one of the Elements of Design.  We read the book Lines That Wiggle by Candace Whitman to inspire our creation of Crazy Hair Heads and make treasure maps using different kinds of lines.  These turned out quite cute and opened up discussion about noticing some of the elements of design in the world around us like line, shape, color, value, form, texture, and space.  To inspire our treasure maps we read Pirates Don’t Change Diapers by David Shannon.  We also discussed using symbols as a form of communication, especially on maps and signs.

Our Learning Targets:

I can draw a variety of lines for my crazy hair.

I can draw a variety of lines for my treasure map.

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Van Gogh Sunflowers

These sunflowers turned out absolutely gorgeous!! Each individual flower is beautiful, creative, and unique!  When these were up in the hallway, it felt like walking into a serene sunflower garden.  To introduce this project, we watched a short video Getting to Know Vincent van Gogh to learn a few facts about our artist. In this project we studied Vincent van Gogh’s Sunflower painting, identified and used warm colors, while familiarizing ourselves with the unique blending abilities of oil pastels.  This lesson is definitely a keeper for years to come! 🙂

Our Learning Targets:

I can tell you what a still life is, show you how to draw a sunflower, and use warm colors.

I can use oil pastels and oil pastel techniques to create my sunflower.

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Don’t Let the Pigeon

The Pigeon collage will always be one of my favorite lessons!  Not only do we get to read the pigeon books by Mo Willems, like Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, and Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late, we get to come up with our own silly sentences for what the Pigeon shouldn’t do!  In this project we really concentrate on the idea that basic shapes can be placed together, like a puzzle, to make an animal.  In further lessons, I expand this idea of using individual shapes to construct a whole image, whether it’s an animal, nature, object, or person.   See my older posts about Mo Willem’s Pigeon if you want more information! 🙂

Our Learning Target:

I can use shapes to construct a pigeon with scissors, paper, and glue.

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Paint Card Cities

This year I decided to put a new twist on my paint card cities!! We added and emphasized background buildings using newspaper shapes versus simply drawing them.  I was so happy to stumble upon this idea a year ago, because I think the idea of using unconventional objects in a project helps students to begin to see new uses and ideas for everyday objects – leading to the concepts of reusing and recycling.  A lot of art that is being produced now uses these everyday objects in new ways – CD’s, records, food, school supplies, kitchen utensils, etc. – showing a whole new side to thinking critically and problem solving.

Reading the book Iggy Peck Architect by Andrea Beaty allowed us to explore the profession of architecture, and led us to the conclusion that just as you can use shapes to construct animals (Pigeon Lesson), architects [and ourselves] can design and construct buildings out of shapes too.  We carefully observed many pictures of cities to identify what buildings were in the background (far away, smaller, and less detail) and those that were in the middle ground/foreground (up closer, larger, brighter, and detailed).  In addition to the concept of a background and foreground, we concentrated on the size and proportion of items you would see in a city (i.e. a person or tree would not be as tall as a sky scraper).  Click here to see previous Paint Card City lessons.

Our Learning Targets:

I can use shapes to construct buildings like architects do.

I understand that buildings close to me are big.

I understand that buildings farther away are smaller, and might be partly covered by buildings that are closer to me.

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Kandinsky Concentric Circles

Though International Dot Day had passed, creating the Kandinsky Concentric Circles is one of my favorite 1st grade projects to do (and it’s fun to hear them repeat the mouthful of a title J).  We learn about Wassily Kandinsky, and his major influence for bringing attention to abstract art.  I discuss with the kiddos that abstract art is not of something like a person, place, or thing but can simply be a work using colors, line, and shape.  We go through a powerpoint showing thumbs up or down if the paintings and art displayed are abstract or not – because this is a higher concept, I stick to the idea that abstract means color, line, and shape.  Emphasis is also placed on brush control in the concentric circle creation process, but also identifying circles and spheres in the world around us.  In addition to reading The Dot by Peter Reynolds, we read Lots of Dots by Craig Frazier who discusses seeing dots in everyday life – “dots from trees” = oranges, “dots to eat” = ice cream/grapes/eggs, “dots that are big, dots that are small”, etc.

I do this project in centers in order to have a small group paint with me while other groups pursue dot and circle related activities.  I am still in search of at least one or two other relevant and purposeful stations as I’ve tried a couple and feel I can create some that have more learning and creating involved, but am happy with the station inspired by Lots of Dots, and of course when we paint the concentric circles.  The lots-of-dots station has the students manipulate lots of hole-punched one-inch dots, scissors, and glue and have the freedom to glue down and create something new with these dots.

See some of my older Kandinsky lessons here.

Our Learning Targets:

I can identify circles and dots in the world around me.

I understand that some art is abstract, only using colors, lines, and shapes.

I can paint concentric circles. 

Painting Concentric Circles:

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Creating with Lots of Dots:

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Kandinsky Color Sheet and Dot Mural:

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Turtle Color Wheels

I saw this idea on Art with Mr. E and thought it was so cute and brilliant!  I LOVE teaching about the color wheel and color theory because we get to explore color mixing in new ways and knowing color is so important not only in the art field, but essential to many careers in our creative and global economy!  My absolute favorite tool is this video by OK GO originally made for Sesame Street – I show it Kindergarten through 6th grade…it is catchy and done in Stop Motion Animation, so it’s funky to watch.  We also read White Rabbit’s Color Book by Alan Baker, and manipulate a magnetic color wheel up on the white board.  The real magic comes when the kiddos actually get to create the secondary colors (orange, green, and violet) using only the primary colors (red, yellow, and blue) I’ve given them.  After the color wheels have dried, we add the green construction paper for the turtle parts, and the final touch of googly eyes!

Our Learning Targets:

I can identify the primary colors.

I can identify and mix the secondary colors.

I understand that mixing two primary colors will make a secondary color.

I can paint a correct color wheel. 

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