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Chalk Pastel Pumpkins (2nd)

I have tried doing a pumpkin lesson with my 2nd graders for a while now.. but nothing ever really stuck. UNTIL NOW!
Ladies and gentlemen.. let me be the first to tell you how much I vehemently HATE chalk pastel. It make a giant mess, I have to constantly be on kids about not blowing the chalk dust into the air, and everyone's clothes somehow get covered in it EVERY. TIME. With that being said.. it does the most beautiful things. The way colors can be blended together is breathtaking and every child leaves feeling like an artist. How can I say no to that?

So to begin this lesson we started by examining a fake pumpkin I bought from Wal-Mart. I asked my students what they noticed about it and they mentioned that it was covered in glitter, had different kinds of orange on it, and it had a lot of lines. I held the pumpkin up to a color mixing poster I have hanging up in my room and pointed out that the majority of the pumpkin was orange.. but it also had a few yellow-orange and red-orange spots.
Then I addressed the lines on it. We talked about how the lines were straight vertical lines.. but when they were placed around a sphere-like object.. they looked curved.
Then it came time to draw! I asked students to start by making at least 3 circles on their page (one large, one medium, and one small). Then I demoed step-by-step how to draw the rest of the lines. I figured this part would be hard to explain.. so here's a picture!

I make sure to point out to my students that the inner lines on the left side curve to the left while the ones on the right side curve to the right.
Once their drawings were completed, students outlined their work with a sharpie marker.

The next day they came in was chalk pastel day! I'm sure as my students walked in they saw a look of horror on my face.. they KNOW how much I love/hate chalk pastels.
Nevertheless we got down to business. Before we took the pastels out I gave each student a wet paper towel. The paper towels are meant to help students keep their cool (and mine) during the entire process. I cannot tell you the number of times my students got up and asked if they could wash their hands ("No because you are still using them!"). So they use the paper towel to wipe their finger and/or table spot.
 I went step-by-step with my students through all of the chalk pastel directions by demoing on my document camera. First we laid the orange chalk pastel on its side and quickly rubbed it over the pumpkin area.. then students used ONE finger (hahahahahaha yeah right) to rub the pastel into the paper.
Next I showed them how to apply the yellow chalk pastel to the center part of each of the pumpkins sections.. then lightly blend it in.
Then they used a red pastel to lightly outline all of their pumpkins sharpie lines (sans the stump).. then use one finger to trace over those red lines to blend them in.
Then they used a white pastel to add a couple highlights to the top of their pumpkin and brown or green for the stump.
Then we spent like 10-15 minutes washing our hands and cleaning up the tables. All while I debate in my head why I'm even teaching this lesson to begin with.

On the last day I had my students come in and sit on the carpet. We looked at two similar pictures of pumpkins and compared and contrasted them. Which one looked more realistic? Why? What did the artist do in one picture that was different from the other?
I think putting the two images next to each other really helps students to see the differences.
We eventually get to talking about shadows, size, positioning, and overlapping as ways to create the illusion of depth (which they continue to pronounce "death" - even though we've practiced several times at this point).
Then my students went back to their seats while I passed out 12"x18" dark blue construction paper.
I had them write their name on their blue paper first and then set it aside as they cut their pumpkins out from their paper.
Once most of my class was done cutting, I showed them how to use the side of a lime green chalk pastel and their ONE finger to create the ground on their paper. I instructed them to make their horizon line almost halfway up their paper so they'd have plenty of space to arrange the pumpkins in their picture.
Once they finished the ground, I had them lay their cut out pumpkins on their paper and arrange them how they'd like (preferably using some of the techniques we just talked about). Once they were happy with the placement I showed them how to create shadows for their pumpkins. First they lifted up a pumpkin on the page (furthest back first) and color a dark green oval on their page. Next they used ONE finger to rub the dark green into the lime green, then glued their pumpkin into the dark green space.
The last step of the project was to use a chalk pastel to create a moon and stars if they wanted to (or had time to).

I'd say that the results speak for themselves. As much as I can't stand chalk pastel... I couldn't imagine not allowing my students to create such a beautiful piece.


Radial Paper Relief Sculptures (5th): Part 500000

Yes.. I've posted about this project ALOT. But I can't help it!! My students work is amazing!! Check out my latest 5th graders work! Original lesson post here.
Sweet PowerPoint and complete package here.


Marker Mandalas (4th)

In previous years I created mandala prints with my 4th graders to teach them about radial symmetry, but this year I wanted to try having them draw them (for their Square 1 Art project). So to begin this lesson I showed students the following video clip to give them some background on what a mandala is (we watch to 2:20).

After watching the first video clip I switch to the following video which shows Tibetan monks creating a sand mandala (something that was referred to in the first video). We watch the first few minutes.. then I fast forward through some of the middle part and we eventually end with the monks sweeping up their artwork and bringing it out to a body of water to dump it.
My students LOVE this video! The fact that the artwork is created by slowly pouring sand BLOWS. THEM. AWAY. 
But the biggest reaction I get is when the monks start sweeping up their artwork - "NOOOOO! WHAT ARE THEY DOING?!?!"

Next I quickly show my students a PowerPoint showing the differences between linear symmetry and radial symmetry. Once that is done I demo how we are going to create our own mandalas (sorry guys - not with sand).

To better explain the process I created this visual:

Feel free to pin away! :)
Once students were done drawing their pencil lines, I had them trace over their lines with sharpie. Then they used markers to color them in. 
*I typically do not use markers.. but it works well for Square 1 Art.
Their results are beautiful! 

I absolutely love mandalas!
So much that I currently have 2 mandala tattoos! One on my side (stilllllll under construction) and a brand new one on my forearm!

Done by my wonderful tattoo artist (and husband) Daniel Nguyen!


Natasha Wescoat-Inspired Trees (5th)

So this lesson is VERY similar to one I did years ago - but this time instead of looking at Gustav Klimt, we looked at contemporary artist Natasha Wescoat!
"Gifted" by Natasha Wescoat
One of the 5th grade standards I'm supposed to teach is for students to be able to distinguish between representational, abstract, and non-objective artwork. So we looked at a variety of her art pieces and found examples of all three! For example, in her famous "jeweled tree" paintings we decided that the trees were definitely abstract.. but the "jewels" were non-objective.
Afterwards we reviewed warm colors vs. cool colors.
To get their artwork started, students began by drawing a horizon line with a black crayon and then painted the sky with warm colors and the ground with cool colors using liquid watercolor paint.
The next day I demoed how to draw swirly trees and had my students practice it in their sketchbooks first. Once they felt confident in their ability to draw the tree, they either went ahead and drew it in sharpie on their paper.. or drew it first in pencil and then traced in sharpie.
On the third and final day students finished drawing their trees if they hadn't already and then started adding their "jewels" (cut up pieces of construction paper).
Overall I really like this project! It was a great choice for our Square 1 Art project!

Inspired by my students work - I went home and did this acrylic painting. :) Fun stuff!

Robert Indiana-inspired Block Words (3rd)

For this lesson I began by talking to my 3rd graders about the Pop artist Robert Indiana. We talked about how he became famous for his really simple images that often included a short word. From there we talked about his 'LOVE' series and then looked at a variety of pieces he created.
The first 'LOVE' piece came in 1964 when Indiana created the design for a Christmas card for the Museum of Modern Art. Then in 1973, the US Postal Service put the design on a stamp! Later on Indiana was even involved in creating LOVE sculptures in other languages as well (like the 'AMOR' sculpture that appeared in Madrid, Spain in 2006 - since moved to the National Gallery of Art)!
In 2008, Indiana created a 'HOPE' image in the same style as his 'LOVE' image. He sold tons of prints of his work and donated all of the proceeds to the Democratic National Committee for Barack Obama's first presidential campaign. Since then he has also created several 'HOPE' sculptures (one of which was featured at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, CO)!
After learning about his work, I introduced students to the project and began brainstorming ideas for different 4-letter words that students could use in their own artwork.
After brainstorming I had my students fold a 8.5"x8.5" piece of white drawing paper in half both ways to divide their paper into fourths. Then I demonstrated how to create a thick block letter by lightly writing a letter regularly, then creating an evenly spaced outline around it. Once the outline was created, students erased the first line (the gray line shown in the image).
Once they had their word written, students used crayons to outline their block letter and add pattern to the inside of it. Then students used watercolor paints to add some color!

I made a super easy step-by-step block and bubble letter printable to go with this project. If you'd like a copy you can find it here.

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