Friday, December 23, 2016

Tessellation Monsters 2.0 (5th)

Pin me because I'm beautiful!
Once upon a time (in my first year of teaching), I taught a tessellation project to my 4th grade students. Just like any good fairy tale, at some point things took a turn for the worse. As great as some of the projects turned out, I was exhausted by the amount of hovering it required me to do as a teacher and left me yearning for a different project. But again, just like any good fairy tale, this story has a happy ending... After taking a 3 year break from tessellations, I have finally made my comeback with an awesome tessellation project for my 5th grade students. Yayyyy!

Written set of directions.
I started this project by showing my students an awesome PowerPoint that I put together that explains exactly what a tessellation is, some famous examples from history, and then differentiates between the 3 major types of tessellations: translations, rotations, and reflections.
After showing them the PowerPoint, I gave each of my tables a basket that contained a few 3"x3" pieces of tagboard, a written set of directions (in case students get confused), scissors, and tape. Then I showed them step-by-step how to create a translation tessellation piece using my document camera (see the directions to the left).
**A trick that I used this time teaching was to have students draw their shape from one corner to the adjacent corner. That way they don't have to worry about lining up the cut-out piece directly across from the original cutout.. you just have to line it up on the side. (This sounds confusing.. just look at my visual below.)

Once students finished creating their own pieces, I passed out large sheets of scrap paper and had them practice making tessellations with their piece. This was their opportunity to make sure that their piece was properly crafted and that it would work. This was also a great opportunity for me to be able to walk around and assist those that found that their piece wasn't working.
Add some details to transform the shape!
Once they verified that their pattern piece would work, I asked them to turn their piece around and see if they could see something that they could make their shape into (some type of character or monster). Monsters are honestly the easiest to do because, as I explained to my students, you can take any type of blob shape and slap some eyes on it and call it a monster (just being real). :) Once my students knew what they were going to make their shape into, I gave them a sheet of 9"x9" white drawing paper to use for their final project.
Use the edges to align your shape.
I advised my students to use the original edges of their tessellation piece to help them to line up their shape on their sheet of paper. Even though this cuts off part of the piece, it really does help to make sure that everything stays properly aligned. I also explained to them that just because you can't see the whole shape, doesn't mean that they shouldn't add the additional details they were planning to add for their character - they just need to add what they can see.
Once their pencil drawing was done (including adding details), students were asked to outline everything with a sharpie marker, and then add color with either crayons or color sticks.

Many of my students decided to take their tessellation patterns and make each shape into its own character in a series (instead of just repeating the same thing over and over). Doing that really helped to keep more of my kids engaged in finishing their project because it made it a little more creative and a little less repetitive.

If you are interested in this lesson, I have an incredibly awesome package posted up on my TPT store page. Seriously.. it has EVERYTHING.
Included in the package:
1. Tessellation PowerPoint: An introduction to what tessellations are, a brief history, M.C. Escher (with a link to a interview he did), his influences, his artwork, and the three main types of transformations used in making tessellations – translation, rotation, and reflections. This PowerPoint includes animated slides, which make it easier for students to visualize the shape’s movements.
2. Color Your Own Worksheets: Grid-filled pages that students can demonstrate how to draw translation, rotation, and reflection tessellations on.
3. Practicing Transformations Worksheet: Worksheet asks students to reflect specific shapes over horizontal and vertical axes, translate shapes, and rotate shapes.
4. Step-by-Step Direction Sheets: Three step-by-step instruction sheets with visuals showing how to create stencils for all three transformations. These instructions also match up with the included videos, which also demonstrate how to create them step-by-step.
5. Practice Tessellation Sheet: This page includes the base stencil for all three transformations shown in the videos and step-by-step sheets.
6. Transformation Videos: 3 videos demonstrating how to create a reflection tessellation, translation tessellation, and rotation tessellation (including how to do a graphite transfer or light table/window transfer for complex details).

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Winter Pine Tree Paintings (2nd)

It's beginning to feel like the most wonderful time of the year again.. and you know what that means - WINTER-THEMED ART PROJECTS!

Guys.. this is what I live for! There is something about working on winter art projects that just puts me in a better mood. It takes me to my happy place - a place filled with scarfs, Starbucks coffee, Christmas lights, family time, and 2 weeks off of work! And while all these things might still be a little while off.. it sure doesn't feel like that in my classroom! :)

This whole project came about as I was trying to find a quick 2-day replacement project for my 2nd grade students this rotation. I'm taking two days off to take a trip to the mountains with my hubby.. so I knew there was not enough time to do my usual Winter Value Landscapes project during this rotation. So I hoped onto Pinterest and found this inspiration.

I began this project by reviewing color mixing with my 2nd graders. We talked about how primary colors can be mixed together to create secondary colors.. but wait... did you know that you can mix primary and secondary colors to create super awesome tertiary colors!? Well I know you guys know that.. but these darlings haven't been taught about that yet. ;)

After discussing that for a bit, we moved onto working on painting the background for our winter trees. Students were given a palette with the 3 primary and 3 secondary colors in rainbow order and were asked to use 3-4 of them to create concentric circles on their paper that also included tertiary colors. Some students listened.. others went color crazy and used all of them.. but can I blame them? I'd probably do the same thing too. :)

On day 2 we began by talking about evergreen trees and how to paint them. I put up a PPT slide showing a variety of different pine tree paintings.. then showed them how I would approach it.
I painted a black line going up my page (from bottom to top), then used a dry brush technique to "dab the black paint onto the paper" to create some texture for the needles.
To which my students responded with:

Every. Time. I said it. **shaking my head**

Then my kids went back to their seats and got started on their paintings.
After a while I called them back to the carpet and showed them how I could use the same dry brush technique with white paint to add snow to my painting. Then I flipped my brush around and used the handle to print white dots for falling snow.

I gotta say.. I LOVE the results. I came up with how I was going to teach this lesson literally 5 minutes before they walked into my classroom.. so I was super elated when I saw their finished pieces. Success! 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Still Kickin'!

Well it's clear that I must have been in hibernation because I haven't written in two months! Yikes!
I gotta tell you guys.. I've had quite a bit going on!
First off I FINALLY moved into my new construction home in August and have been unpacking things literally for the past month (my new office is still a war zone).
AND... I'd been feeling a little under the weather for the past.. ehhhh let's say about 13 weeks?
But that's just because of the baby. :)



YES! Mrs. Nguyen is having a baby!

I am so beyond excited about having another little one. My existing son is about to turn 8 years old this month.. so he's been waiting a LONG time for a sibling!
And to top things off - we got to find out the gender really early!
Guys.. science is amazing. Like really. 2 vials of blood from me and the lab was able to determine the baby's likelihood of inheriting any genetic diseases AND could tell me the gender.

So without further adieu...

Brody's getting a baby brother!

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Cup Stacking

It's the end of the year. You've already cleaned up your classroom and you are done making messes.....buttttt you still have a few classes to teach. What to do - what to do?


I know this isn't a new thing.. but man is it effective. Break your class up into a couple teams and give them a ton of plastic or paper cups.. then let them go wild.
Who can build the biggest tower? Who can build a bridge? Who can build a castle?

The best part is when the cups come tumbling down - which will inevitably happen. The kids go crazy!
It's the happiest I've ever seen them in my classroom without paint or clay everywhere. :)

Friday, May 20, 2016

My Dirt

I'm going to begin by apologizing for not blogging as often lately. I've been a little bit distracted.
We all know the end of the school year is crazy.. but it's even crazier when you throw building a house on top of that!
My husband and I are building our first house - which is so incredibly exciting AND so much paperwork! Just when you think you're done signing stuff or fetching documents... nope.
I realize that many of you wonderful art teachers already own homes, so this may not be as exciting of an announcement for you (also perhaps because I'm some random art teacher), but I just wanted to share it!

I've driven by our lot 10000 times already and I'm pretty sure both my husband and son think I'm insane. Our lot is still a pile of dirt and weeds, so every time I drive by I eagerly check to see if anything has changed. It hasn't. Construction hasn't even started yet.. and won't for another week or so. Sooooooo I really don't know why I expect it to.  ;)  Again.. I'm insane.

"My Dirt" as my sister calls it.
We just recently has our appointment at the design center to pick out our design selections. I think I'm in love!
The brick color in the image below might be a little off.. but it's super close to that.

Though it isn't represented in the picture above, I think the very best part about this new house is going to be my walk-in-closet. You guys.. it's like the size of my son's entire bedroom. LEGITTTT.

Also - the covered back patio complete with a ceiling fan. I'm so excited to sit outside without having to be directly under that hot Georgian sun (too bad I can't escape the humidity).

Anywho.. so that's what's going on with me.
On the bright side - I am so behind in posting my latest lessons on here, that I am pretty much set for content for this summer's blog posts! :)

Monday, May 9, 2016

Emoji Soft Sculptures (5th)

This lesson started off by me showing my students a PowerPoint presentation which introduced the Pop Art movement and some of its major artists. I really emphasized that Pop Artists wanted to connect to everyday people, so their subject matter reflected the pop culture of the time (movie stars, advertisements, comic strips, food items, etc.). People saw their work, recognized it, and connected with it (a BIG difference from Abstract Expressionism).
Then we began talking about popular things in our culture today - which of course lead to talk of iPods, iPads, video games, Instagram, Facebook, texting, and a slew of other apps I'm sure I'm not cool enough to know about. It hits hard when you don't even know what your students are talking about - I used to know it all!
I explained that emojis are also a great example of contemporary pop art because they are super recognizable and relevant to the tech-savvy time we live in.
Then we looked at a few different (emotion) emojis and talked about what they meant. Then I asked students what they would mean if they were used in a different context.
So for example, the emoji with one eye closed and its tongue sticking out. On its own my students said it meant "crazy." Then I asked them what they thought it meant if it were sent with a text message that said something like, "I hate you." The words on their own sound mean and hurtful, but when sent with the emoji, they become almost endearing - clearly not meant to be serious.
Emojis can help to provide context to written words, like in the previous example, or they can be used decoratively in a fun illustrative manner.
As visual people ourselves, I think art educators are in an amazing position to teach our students about the power of this type of visual imagery and its effectiveness in communicating more meaningful messages.
Once we were done talking about the symbolism of emojis, we began talking about what soft sculptures are. I told my students that they would be creating their own double-sided emoji soft sculptures using felt and yarn.
Guys I gotta say - I love it! I used to do an angry birds sewing project with my 5th graders, but decided to change things up this year to keep the project super relevant to my student's interests. They were crazy engaged during this lesson!

Prior to deciding to do emojis (and the decision was made pre-happy meal) I was planning on doing Minecraft Soft Sculptures with my kids. If you are interested in that lesson, click on the image below to go to my TPT store. :)