Abstract and Realistic Metallic Drawings 

Inspired by Paul Klee, students draw one realistic and one abstract piece of artwork, then color them with metallic crayons.

Fourth grade students discussed the differences between several of Paul Klee’s paintings. They created one realistic and one abstract drawing, and then colored their artwork using metallic crayons.

PowerPoint: Abstract and Realistic

Supplies:

  • 9″ x 9″ black construction paper (2 per student)
  • White colored pencils
  • Metallic crayons

 

Inspired by Paul Klee, students draw one realistic and one abstract piece of artwork, then color them with metallic crayons.

This project provided the perfect opportunity for my students to become familiar with the difference between abstract and realistic artwork. (I struggle with how in depth to go when introducing these concepts. I’ve settled on saving the “non-objective, abstract, representational” conversation for middle school and beyond.)

Inspired by Paul Klee, students draw one realistic and one abstract piece of artwork, then color them with metallic crayons.

We started by comparing and contrasting paintings by Paul Klee. The students usually made an observation that dovetailed into a discussion about the difference between realistic and abstract art.

Inspired by Paul Klee, students draw one realistic and one abstract piece of artwork, then color them with metallic crayons.

I wanted each student to have a chance to create both and abstract and realistic piece of artwork. During the first class period, they sketched their drawings with white colored pencil on the black squares. I loved how much creative freedom my students had for this project. They came up with so many unique ideas!

Inspired by Paul Klee, students draw one realistic and one abstract piece of artwork, then color them with metallic crayons.

During the second and third class, they used the metallic crayons to color in their artwork. I encouraged that they color the whole page, although some kids explained why they wanted to leave parts of their artwork black. I am always a fan of my students making “artist choices!”

Inspired by Paul Klee, students draw one realistic and one abstract piece of artwork, then color them with metallic crayons.

The biggest reminder I had to give them was that if they wanted the shapes to look shiny, they had to press down hard with the crayons. It takes a little elbow grease, but the results are so stunning! I also had a handful of students who chose to use colored pencils. I was impressed by how sharp they looked on the black paper.

Inspired by Paul Klee, students draw one realistic and one abstract piece of artwork, then color them with metallic crayons.

This ended up being a two and a half day project. I had my students work on sketchbook projects when they were finished. Next time, I’ll probably plan to follow it up with a project that we could get started on during the second half of class.

Inspired by Paul Klee, students draw one realistic and one abstract piece of artwork, then color them with metallic crayons.

 

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City Collages 

Make a city collage by cutting shapes out of patterned or textured magazine pages.

Third grade students cut out textures and patterns from magazines to create a City Collage.

Art Lesson Video: City Collages

PowerPoint: City Collages

Supplies:

  • 9″ x 12″ paper
  • Magazines
  • Scissors
  • Glue sticks
  • Scrap paper to use as glue mats

 

Make a city collage by cutting shapes out of patterned or textured magazine pages.

One of the things I have learned this year with our six day rotation schedule is to embrace the madness! It doesn’t matter how hard I try to get all of my classes back to the same spot in the schedule, something will always come up and throw us off. Engaging, one day art projects have become my go-to solution.

Make a city collage by cutting shapes out of patterned or textured magazine pages.

I needed a project that was simple enough that my students could finish it in one class period, but challenging enough that they wouldn’t be bored. I decided to go with a collage project that focused on using patterns and texture.

Make a city collage by cutting shapes out of patterned or textured magazine pages.

After the first rotation, I realized I needed to emphasize what patterns and textures would look like. I chose a page from a magazine that had examples of what would and wouldn’t work. The most common misconception was that they were supposed to cut out pictures or words.

Make a city collage by cutting shapes out of patterned or textured magazine pages.

They really enjoyed looking through the magazines to find interesting patterns and textures. We had a lot of fun conversations and some students were sharing and exchanging pages they had found. There were a few kiddos who needed an initial boost to get started. For them, I went through and pointed out 3-5 patterns or textures that they could choose.

Make a city collage by cutting shapes out of patterned or textured magazine pages.

I made a really big deal about “flippy flappies.” When a students brought me their artwork to turn it in, I showed them how to bend it slightly. Any “flippy flappies” that stuck out needed to be glued down more. (When Showcase time came, I was so glad I had done this. Their artwork stayed much more secure in the hallway.)

Make a city collage by cutting shapes out of patterned or textured magazine pages.

If I had needed to, I could have extended this to a two day project. Some classes only had a handful that didn’t finish, but in other classes there were 7-10 who needed more time. Several of the students who needed more time were really invested in the project and spent almost their whole Center’s Day finishing it!

Brushstroke Paintings 

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After observing artwork by Alma Woodsey Thomas, second graders created a watercolor background and filled their painting with brushstrokes using tempera.

Art Lesson Videos: Brushstroke Paintings, Part 1 & Part 2 & Part 3

PowerPoint: Alma Woodsey Thomas

Supplies:

  • 9″ x 12″ poster board or watercolor paper
  • Brushes
  • Watercolor paints
  • Tempera paint
  • Scrap paper to create shapes

I was so excited to share Alma Woodsey Thomas’s artwork with my students! They had so many interesting observations to make about her paintings. This turned out to be one of those projects that really captured my students’ attention.

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They started by creating a watercolor background using the wet-on-wet technique. This was its own special kind of magic! It is always fun to hear gasps of amazement when students are experimenting with a new material.

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The second day we worked on the project, we looked at her painting “Starry Night and the Astronaut” again. (Isn’t that the best title!?) They noticed that the shape in the top corner was a different color than the background.

Create brushstroke paintings inspired by Alma Woodsey Thomas.
Starry Night and the Astronaut, Alma Woodsey Thomas

They tore a piece of paper into an interesting shape and traced it on their paper. Some students just traced it once and others filled their paper with shapes. In the process of tearing, a lot of kids created more than one shape that they wanted to use.

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During the middle of class, I played a video demonstration about using tempera paint to outline their shapes with small brushstrokes and fill them in. I wasn’t sure how my second graders would respond to doing what could be seen as “tedious work.” They surprised me by how focused they were on painting their dots! I gave them large brushes so that it wouldn’t take too long.

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On the last day of the project, they watched a video about filling in the background with brushstrokes. A lot of students wanted to experiment with mixing colors together on their artwork. I reminded them to wash their brush in between colors and they went for it! Some kids finished quickly and others still had a bit left to do, so we saved the paintings to finish on a Centers Day.

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The paintings are so bright and cheerful and the kids had so much fun making them! It was a great introduction to tempera paint because it focused their energy. It was definitely worth spending three weeks on just one project!

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Found Object Sculptures 

Create a Found Object Sculpture using small objects, a box lid, hot glue and spray paint.

Inspired by Louise Nevelson, second graders created a found object sculpture by working with their classmates. They could bring in an object or choose an object; then they chose where they wanted to glue it and voted on what color the artwork should be painted.

PowerPoint: Found Object Sculpture

Parent Letter: Found Object Letter (Edit it with your school’s info)

Art Display Sign: Found Object Sign

Supplies:

  • Small objects
  • Cardboard box lids
  • Hot glue
  • Donated spray paint

 

Create a Found Object Sculpture using small objects, a box lid, hot glue and spray paint.

At every Showcase, I display a piece of collaborative artwork that the classes worked on together. Sometimes, it comes together as one large mural-type display. Sometimes, four students will work together to create poster-sized art. Because the second grade Showcase was scheduled for January, I planned a project that they could complete in one art rotation.

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Sky Cathedral, Louise Nevelson, 1958

I started by sending letters home with my students, after we talked about Louise Nevelson and found object art. I emphasized that they would not be getting their objects back and that the object needed to be small enough that it could fit in your pocket. I had bags for each second grade homeroom so that kids could give their object to me early. By pure luck, I happened to have recess duty that week, so I also collected their objects in the morning.

Create a Found Object Sculpture using small objects, a box lid, hot glue and spray paint.

I emailed the faculty and staff at our school, asking for donations of partially used spray paint. We ended up with so many contributions! I also scavenged in my classroom and found a bunch of random objects that students could choose from if they forgot to bring an object. I asked the office to save a few cardboard lids from our paper boxes. It was pretty cool to be creating a project using all donated and free supplies!

Create a Found Object Sculpture using small objects, a box lid, hot glue and spray paint.

On the day of the project, we started by talking about found object art and voting on what color the class wanted their sculpture to be spray painted. They chose between two different colors.  I have three 2nd grade classes each day, so I recorded each class’ vote and explained that the color with 2 or more votes would win.

Create a Found Object Sculpture using small objects, a box lid, hot glue and spray paint.

During class, I had a drawing project that they were working on at their tables. I called up one group at a time and had them show me where they wanted their object glued. After I put the hot glue on the right spot, they could choose to place their object themselves.

 

Create a Found Object Sculpture using small objects, a box lid, hot glue and spray paint.

At the end of each day, I spray painted the artwork the color that the classes had chosen. For our Showcase, I used a staple gun to secure them to the wall. (Another reason to encourage kids to bring small objects! There were a couple of sculptures I was afraid were going to be too heavy.)

Create a Found Object Sculpture using small objects, a box lid, hot glue and spray paint.

It was so much fun to see the second graders talking about the sculptures with their families at the Showcase. There were big groups of people who stood and observed the art for a long time! The students were so excited to search and find the object they had added.

 

Monster Drawing Game

Play a drawing game to create a crazy monster!

Second grade students played a drawing game by working together to each create part of a monster. 

Supplies:

  • 12″ x 18″ construction paper
  • Pencil
  • Markers
  • Colored pencils

Play a drawing game to create a crazy monster!

It is always fun to shake up an art project by doing it on large paper. I’ve done variations of the exquisite corpse game before. This time I used bigger sheets of paper and challenged my students to draw a monster.

Play a drawing game to create a crazy monster!

It helped to have a drawing prompt that encouraged weird, crazy images. Since students were switching their paper with classmates, it minimized any drawing insecurities that they might have.

Play a drawing game to create a crazy monster!

I started by demonstrating how to fold a paper into thirds. I emphasized that it was okay if the sections were not the same size – in fact, it would make the monster even more interesting if it had a really big head and tiny feet!

Play a drawing game to create a crazy monster!

Students drew a head on the paper that they wrote their name on. This was the monster that they would get back at the end of class to outline, color and take home. Before we played the game, we had a quick conversation about respecting each other’s art by not drawing or erasing in someone else’s section.

Play a drawing game to create a crazy monster!

They switched papers with someone at their table and drew the body and arms. Then, they traded with someone from a different table to draw the legs and feet. It was so much fun to see how creative they got with their monsters!

Play a drawing game to create a crazy monster!

At the end of class, they got back their original drawing and started tracing the pencil lines with fine tip markers. During our next class period, they finished outlining and colored in their artwork. I loved that this project encouraged my students to think creatively and also make artwork as a team!

Play a drawing game to create a crazy monster!

Monarchs and Milkweeds: Collaborative Collage

A collaborative art project that combines scientific observation of a monarch's life cycle with a group collage project.

I was excited to bring four monarch caterpillars to our Art Room for my third graders to observe for their collaborative art project based on the monarch’s life cycle.

YouTube Playlist: Monarch Videos

Day 1: Observe and Sketch

Day 2: Painted Paper

Day 3: Collaborative Collage

Each class period, they got to observe the caterpillars. This was truly the most joyful part of our year! Every day they saw something new – they were so surprised by how quickly they grew. I had a couple of classes that were fascinated by the caterpillar poop. I told them they could talk about it, but they had to use the scientific word for it – fras.

I created videos so that I could share interesting moments with the classes that missed them. For a few weeks, it became a wonderful ritual that we would watch the latest video during our Circle Time at the end of class. One lucky group was there when a caterpillar morphed into a chrysalis. Another class got to be there when we released one of the butterflies.

A collaborative art project that combines scientific observation of a monarch's life cycle with a group collage project.

Monarch Caterpillars Video: Monarch Caterpillar Growth StagesMonarch Caterpillar Eating MilkweedMonarch Caterpillar Makes Path of Silk

A collaborative art project that combines scientific observation of a monarch's life cycle with a group collage project.

Chrysalis Video: Monarch Caterpillar Morphs into Chrysalis

A collaborative art project that combines scientific observation of a monarch's life cycle with a group collage project.

Monarch Butterfly Video: Monarch Butterfly Release

Installation Art

Create installation art using everyday materials and change the way people see a space.

Elementary art students worked together to create installation art using everyday materials and displayed them on campus.

PowerPoint: Installation Art

Art Display Sign: Installation Art Sign

Safety Pledge: Hot Glue Pledge

Supplies: Whatever extra stuff you have crowding your cabinets!

Create installation art using everyday materials and change the way people see a space.

For our art program, I needed to do two things: 1) Fill in the weird schedule gap caused by our Field Days. 2) Use up the boxes of donated supplies that I wasn’t going to be able to move to our new school. Installation art was the perfect solution!

I started by grouping our supplies into sets that would work well together. I had pipe cleaners, foam shapes, cardboard tubes, art straws, wooden blocks, popsicle sticks and bamboo skewers. The foam shapes worked well with the pipe cleaners and skewers. For the other materials, I gave each table an adhesive, like masking tape or hot glue.

Create installation art using everyday materials and change the way people see a space.

About a week before we started, I set up a hot glue station at the back of the room. Kiddos who finished their art project early helped glue the popsicle sticks into triangles and squares. Having those pieces ready to go really streamlined the building process.

Create installation art using everyday materials and change the way people see a space.

I made a very big deal about the hot glue safety rules! Each students had to sign the Safety Pledge and wear gloves to protect their hands from accidents. (I was thrilled to find kid-sized gardening gloves at the Target Dollar Spot!)

Create installation art using everyday materials and change the way people see a space.

On the first day, each table brainstormed about how they were going to use the materials and where they would want the sculpture displayed. At the end of each class, they wrote a note for the kids who would be at their table next.

Create installation art using everyday materials and change the way people see a space.

I changed the set-up of the tables as each of the sculptures got to a new step or were completed. By the end of the week, the cardboard tube sculpture took up 3 different tables: one for taping, one for painting the outside and one for painting the inside.

We installed the sculptures in waves; as soon as one was finished, I would assign a table to take the pieces outside and secure it in the ground. Bamboo skewers and tape helped to hold up some of the more flexible artwork. The students taped laminated signs about installation art to the sides of some old magazine holders. Bamboo skewers were able to keep the sign boxes in place.

The installation art made quite a splash! The students were so excited to see the finished projects they had helped with. Teachers and parents also commented on how much they enjoyed the artwork. It was a fun way to introduce an new art concept to our school’s community.