Saturday, March 22, 2014

Birdhouses and Birds on a Wire (1st, 2nd, and K)

2nd grade student sample
EQ: Where do artists get ideas from? How can nature inspire us?

I began this lesson by asking my students "where do artists get their ideas from?"
The most common response of course was "their brains!".. but then I followed up by asking "but how did the idea get in their brain?"
This one is apparently a toughie for the Kinder-2nd grade brain.. as all I got back were puzzled stares and the occasional hand offering the answer "their brains!!!" again... and again. Nooo children - that is still not exactly what I'm looking for. ;)
What I was trying to do was get my kids to help me come up with a list of ideas as to where artists find inspiration (or their ideas) from. I finally found a way to get my kiddos on the right track by showing them a painting or a specific artwork, then asking them what the artist must have been looking at or thinking about when he/she created the piece. Finally I got answers like - nature, flowers, and the sky! Closer children.. closer! :)
Then I showed my students a few pieces by John James Audubon - a French 1700's-era artist who came to America with his family and became a naturalist and a painter (he is most well-known for his incredibly detailed paintings of birds). While looking at the paintings, I asked my students how they thought he was able to create such detailed paintings? They responded by saying that he must have seen the birds up close! Then I asked them how could he have gotten so close to the birds to be able to sketch them without them flying away? This became the starting point of a rather amusing conversation in which students plotted ways Audubon must have held the birds captive. Then I asked students if they were going to draw a picture of a bird and could not use the internet to gather pictures - how would they do it? How would they know what detail to draw? This brought us back to the idea of drawing from real-life and potentially baiting birds with food. Then I asked my kids what the best way to give food to a bird was so that we could see it up close? FINALLY- we landed on a birdhouse! :)
Yes this was a rather lengthy conversation to only get to that - but it was worthwhile.

I had my students begin their birdhouse artwork by first painting a background (everything that would appear behind their birdhouse). I gave my kinders and first graders blue and purple watercolor paints to do this.. but let my second graders go to town with a full set of watercolors (I think I prefer the limited color scheme of the blue and purple).
The next day when my kids came in we started by drawing a bird on a piece of 4"x5" white drawing paper (I did this size hoping that the kids would fill this paper with their bird). To help aide the students, I did a step-by-step drawing demo on the board and told students that they could follow along with me or draw their own bird - it was totally up to them! Once their drawings were finished I had them outline with sharpie and then color their birds in with color sticks.
Then onto their birdhouses for first and second graders! Earlier in the week we created some sheets of painted paper, so we used this paper for our birdhouses. I gave students a 5"x5" posterboard tracer to help them draw their base square and a 5"x2.5" posterboard tracer to create a rectangle (which we then folded in half, cut diagonally, and created a triangle).
Students then picked out two popsicle sticks to act as their birdhouse's base and glued them down to their background paper. Then they glued down their birdhouse shapes (the square and triangle) and also cut out a black circle to create a hole in the front of their birdhouse. Students then picked out another popsicle stick to glue down below the black circle to create a perch for their bird.
At this point we were pretty much completely out of time (on a Friday). :( Since I see my kids for one full week and then rotate to the next class, I knew I wouldn't see them for another 7 weeks (the last week of school).. so we rushed to get the bird glued on! I gave some of my students pieces of cardboard to glue onto the back of their bird and then to glue onto their perch (to create a relief-element). Sadly we did not have enough time to fully decorate the birdhouses - but now I know for next week that this lesson needs a full 3 days to be completely successful!
My kindergarten class was also working on this project.. but after seeing how my 1st and 2nd graders were unable to complete their birdhouses.. I knew my kinders wouldn't stand a chance.. so I had to improvise (and successfully did so on the spot)!
Sitting out on my shelf was a box of TwisteezWire (I have a TON of it and have found no good use (that I like) for it).. and in that moment I decided we would tape down a piece of that onto their background and use it as a "telephone-wire" for our birds to sit on!
I gotta say.. I really like this version of the project too!
I can't wait until next week when I give this project the full 3 days it deserves and see what kind of results I get! :)

2nd grade
2nd grade
2nd grade
2nd grade
2nd grade
2nd grade
1st grade
1st grade
1st grade
1st grade

kindergarten
kindergarten
kindergarten
kindergarten
kindergarten

4 comments:

  1. It must be the week for 'doing' bird houses. We have just spent a day making them too. These are lovely.

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  2. Regarding the bird houses based on birds painted by Audubon: I'm glad you didn't mention to the children that he killed many, many birds of each variety so that he could decide which one would look the best when painted. He really did "still lifes". I have never looked at his work the same way since I learned this fact.

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    Replies
    1. Geez that is pretty horrific. I did not know that! :(
      It's sad when an artist does something that kinda casts a negative shadow on his or her work.
      But if we omitted all the artists that have a cloud over their work.. we wouldn't have much to teach. :/

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