Writing Responses to Showcase Artwork 

Fourth graders visited the Showcase and wrote about a piece of artwork created by a second grader.

Fourth graders visited the second grade Showcase. They chose a piece of artwork that was interesting to them and wrote a response.

PowerPoint: Showcase Response

Writing Handout: 2nd Writing Response3rd Writing Response4th Writing Response

Fourth graders visited the Showcase and wrote about a piece of artwork created by a second grader.

It is such a huge undertaking to hang up 300+ pieces of artwork. This year I decided to use our Showcase as a learning experience across grade levels. I created handouts that my 4th graders could use to reflect on the artwork they saw at the 2nd grade Showcase. My plan is to have each grade level write about the artwork they see at another grade’s Showcase.

Fourth graders visited the Showcase and wrote about a piece of artwork created by a second grader.

I started the class by going over the questions with my students. I emphasized that what they wrote was their opinion – there weren’t any right or wrong answers.

Fourth graders visited the Showcase and wrote about a piece of artwork created by a second grader.

Before making my PowerPoint, I talked with a group of 4th grade teachers to find out what would be helpful for me to reinforce in our art writing assignment. They told me they are working on having the kids write in complete sentences, with a capital letter at the beginning and a period at the end.

Fourth graders visited the Showcase and wrote about a piece of artwork created by a second grader.

After reviewing those three criteria with my classes, I told them that we were having a writing contest. I would be picking a few excellent responses to hang in the hallway alongside the art they had written about. Their writing had to meet the three criteria in order to qualify for the contest.

Fourth graders visited the Showcase and wrote about a piece of artwork created by a second grader.

It was amazing what a huge motivator the contest was! I had them list out the three criteria they had to meet and offered to check their writing at the end to see if it it would qualify. I have never had so many students eager to get their answers written correctly!

Fourth graders visited the Showcase and wrote about a piece of artwork created by a second grader.

Before we walked over to the Showcase, we had a quick Circle Time about art show etiquette. I was so proud that they were respectful of the artwork and were calm and focused while they wrote. As they finished writing, they sat down along a wall and got to free draw on the back of their paper.

Fourth graders visited the Showcase and wrote about a piece of artwork created by a second grader.

I tried to keep everyone in one section of the hallway, for crowd control. But I did make exceptions for students who had a younger sibling whose artwork was displayed on the other side. It was such a great motivator for them to be able to write about art done by someone they know!

Fourth graders visited the Showcase and wrote about a piece of artwork created by a second grader.

It was so much fun reading through their responses! I chose about 15-20 to display in the hallway next to the artwork that the student had chosen to write about. It warmed my heart to see students stopping and reading the responses. It was such a great way to connect art and writing while also making connections between our students!

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Kandinsky Drawing Game 

Inspired by Kandinsky, students play a drawing game using crayons. Then they paint over their artwork with ink.

After learning about Kandinsky, second graders played a drawing game using crayons. Later, they painted over their artwork with ink to create a wax resist.

Art Lesson Video: Kandinsky Drawing Game, Part 1Kandinsky Drawing Game, Part 2, Ink Set-up Video

Drawing Prompts: Kandinsky Drawing Game

Supplies:

  • 9″ x 12″ white paper
  • Crayons
  • India Ink, one part ink to 5 parts water
  • Brushes

 

Inspired by Kandinsky, students play a drawing game using crayons. Then they paint over their artwork with ink.

I am not a huge fan of crayons; it’s hard to get them to do exactly what you want them to do. But since I inherited boxes and boxes of crayons with the Art Room, I’ve been designing several projects around a technique that makes crayons interesting – wax resist.

Inspired by Kandinsky, students play a drawing game using crayons. Then they paint over their artwork with ink.

My older students love doing a wax resist project that involves covering the whole paper with crayon and then crumpling it. For my 2nd graders, I wanted to try something that would involve a little less intense coloring. I decided to inspire them with images of Kandinsky’s artwork.

Inspired by Kandinsky, students play a drawing game using crayons. Then they paint over their artwork with ink.

After they talked about his paintings, we played a drawing game inspired by Kandinsky’s abstract art. I love playing games with my students; it is such a great way to get their creative juices flowing! I think next time I might use the game as a warm up and then let them create a drawing on their own inspired by Kandinsky.

Inspired by Kandinsky, students play a drawing game using crayons. Then they paint over their artwork with ink.

I emphasized how important it was to press down hard with the crayons as they drew. What really helped them remember was a visual example that showed a “soft drawing” and a “hard drawing” side by side. It was a great reminder that once you paint over it with ink, a hard drawing will show through bright!

Inspired by Kandinsky, students play a drawing game using crayons. Then they paint over their artwork with ink.

Second graders with india ink is a scary proposition. It worked out that we were inking our artwork the week before Christmas Break – Yikes! I was so proud of how my second graders handled themselves and the art materials. We didn’t have a single spill in all 14 classes. Making a video about how to set up the table for ink was a huge part of that success. It showed them exactly what to do and the magic of videos meant that they all listened carefully!

I always have a few kiddos who are absent, so I save their artwork in their class folder so that they can work on it during a Center’s Day. I had kids who were also finishing their Watercolor Grids. On a whim, I decided to have them paint over their crayon designs with watercolors. It was magical! Next time, I think it would be fun to give my students a choice of using india ink or watercolors for the background.

 

Surreal Self Portraits 

Create a Surreal self-portrait by drawing things that represent you as the parts of your face.Create a Surreal self-portrait by drawing things that represent you as the parts of your face.

Fourth grade students created a surreal self-portrait using symbols that represent them as the different parts of their body. They colored in their drawings with colored pencil.

PowerPoint: Surreal Self Portrait

Supplies:

  • 9″ x 12″ drawing paper
  • Colored pencils

Create a Surreal self-portrait by drawing things that represent you as the parts of your face.

Two class periods into the Surreal Landscape project, I realized my students were going to be finishing at very different paces. I needed a project that they could easily transition to after completing their watercolor pencil background.

Create a Surreal self-portrait by drawing things that represent you as the parts of your face.

I wanted to continue working with the concept of Surrealism; I could see that some students were still figuring out exactly what it meant. I decided to build on their last project by connecting the idea of Surrealism with self-portraits. By fourth grade, they have already learned about and created self-portraits, so it was a great way to deepen their understanding of both concepts.

Create a Surreal self-portrait by drawing things that represent you as the parts of your face.

As students started to finish painting their Surreal Landscapes, I paused class and gave a quick explanation of how to create a Surreal Self-Portrait. It was amazing to hear the conversations students had with each other as they tried to figure out how to build their face using things that represent them!

Create a Surreal self-portrait by drawing things that represent you as the parts of your face.

I was definitely concerned about having watercolor pencils and regular colored pencils out at the same time. Luckily, the timing worked out so that by the time kids were ready to start coloring their self-portraits, almost everyone in the class was finished using the watercolor pencils. I also reminded them every class period to check the side of their pencil – if it had a paintbrush on it, they knew it was a watercolor pencil.

Create a Surreal self-portrait by drawing things that represent you as the parts of your face.

I let them decide if they wanted to create and abstract or realistic background. That choice was a great review for them about the difference between abstract and realistic. This project was an excellent stepping stone from the Surreal Landscapes. I could see that the reason the kids enjoyed it so much was because they were able to express themselves creatively.

Create a Surreal self-portrait by drawing things that represent you as the parts of your face.

 

 

Surreal Landscape 

Create a Surreal Landscape using an image from a magazine and drawing a background using watercolor pencils.

Inspired by Vladimir Kush, fourth grade students cut out an image from a magazine and created a surreal background for it using watercolor pencils.

Art Lesson Video: Surreal Landscape, Cutting & Surreal Landscape, ColoringSurreal Landscape, Painting

PowerPoint: Surreal Landscapes

Supplies:

  • Magazines
  • Scissors
  • Glue sticks
  • 9″ x 12″ poster board
  • Watercolor pencils
  • Brushes

Create a Surreal Landscape using an image from a magazine and drawing a background using watercolor pencils.

One of my favorite art movements to teach is Surrealism. I especially enjoy introducing it to my students who are in the upper elementary – middle school grade levels. Developmentally, they are able to understand more abstract concepts. And age-wise they are all about silly non-sequiturs!

I had bookmarked images of Vladimir Kush’s surreal paintings; I was intrigued by how he incorporated objects or animals into a landscape. I decided to create a collage/painting project inspired by his artwork. When I introduced the concept of Surrealism to my fourth graders, I pointed out how he had used animals as the sails of a ship or as a bridge. I explained that they were going to be choosing an image to use as a part of a landscape or cityscape.

Create a Surreal Landscape using an image from a magazine and drawing a background using watercolor pencils.

After introducing the concept of Surrealism, I asked my students to cut out an image from a magazine. I suggested that they choose an image that was interesting to them and then start brainstorming ways to turn it into a part of their landscape. When I do this project again, I’ll frame that challenge differently. I realized a better prompt would be: “Cut out an interesting image. Draw a background for it that doesn’t make sense. Where would you least expect to see this object or animal?”

Create a Surreal Landscape using an image from a magazine and drawing a background using watercolor pencils.

I gave them tips on how to carefully cut it out so that the details showed. Being a stickler on the craftsmanship aspect of this step made a big difference in the impact of how their artwork looked when they glued down their image. The hardest part of managing this project was helping the kids keep up with their magazine image as they were sketching, coloring and painting the background. Gluing down the image was the very last step, but cutting it out had to be the first step. I spent a lot of time reminding kids to put their images in their table folders where they would be safe!

Create a Surreal Landscape using an image from a magazine and drawing a background using watercolor pencils.

After they cut out their image, they traced it’s outline on their paper so that they could see where they were going to glue it down. Then they sketched a surreal background that involved their image. This step was tricky for some of my students. I spent a lot of that class period walking around and brainstorming with them. Next time, I think I’ll have them do a quick brainstorm with their tables before we even pass out the paper.

Create a Surreal Landscape using an image from a magazine and drawing a background using watercolor pencils.

I love introducing watercolor pencils to my students! It is a pretty magical art supply – and it’s fun to tie in a little science and explain that the difference between these pencils and regular pencils is that the lead is water-soluble. I also point out the paintbrush logo and emphasize how important it is that they don’t get mixed in with the
“normal” colored pencils.

Create a Surreal Landscape using an image from a magazine and drawing a background using watercolor pencils.

Coloring the background took a solid day and a half for most of my students. This was one of those projects where I had students finishing at vastly different rates. I went ahead and played the video about painting the watercolor pencil background as soon as the first student was ready to move on to that step – even though there were students who hadn’t started coloring their background. I also designed a drawing project that tied into Surrealism that they could easily transition to if they finished their painting early.

Create a Surreal Landscape using an image from a magazine and drawing a background using watercolor pencils.

In the past, I’ve noticed that the biggest issue kids run into with watercolor pencils is not realizing that you have to wash your brush in between colors. So, in my video I showed them what not to do. I painted all over a section of my example, smearing together 6 or 7 colors into one big, muddy mess. It was funny to hear their gasps of astonishment! And it was the first year I didn’t have any heartbroken artists who had painted over several different colors.

Create a Surreal Landscape using an image from a magazine and drawing a background using watercolor pencils.

This was one of those projects that was a little overwhelming to tackle for the first time. It had so many different aspects that had to all come together in each student’s head. (Which I’m realizing is difficult to do when you see them once every six days!) Now that I’ve tried it out, I’m excited to fine-tune it for my next group of students.

Watercolor Grid

Draw a grid with crayon and fill it with letters. Paint over it with watercolors to create a wax resist.

After discussing a painting by Jasper Johns, second graders drew a grid using crayon and filled each square with a letter of their name. Then, they painted over their drawing with watercolors.

Art Lesson Video: Watercolor Grid, Part 1 & Watercolor Grid, Part 2

PowerPoint: Watercolor Grid

Supplies:

  • 9″ x 12″ poster board
  • Rulers
  • Crayons
  • Watercolor paints
  • Brushes

 

Draw a grid with crayon and fill it with letters. Paint over it with watercolors to create a wax resist.

I love the first painting project I do with second graders! They are ecstatic when I start our class by saying, “Today we are going to begin our watercolor project.” This year, I decided to do a lesson that used watercolors along with crayons. When I saw Kristin Thomas’s post about a Jasper Johns-inspired project on her blog For the Love of Art, I knew I wanted to try it out. After they observed Jasper John’s artwork that used a grid filled with letters, I showed them a video about how to draw their own grid and trace over it with crayons.

Draw a grid with crayon and fill it with letters. Paint over it with watercolors to create a wax resist.

At first, I was worried that splitting this project into 2 days would leave us with too much extra time. It ended up being perfectly timed. We definitely need a whole class period to draw the grid and fill it with letters. After the video, I reviewed the steps to drawing the horizontal and vertical lines for their grid (with hand motions, of course!) Those few extra minutes made a huge difference with helping them remember how to use their ruler.

Draw a grid with crayon and fill it with letters. Paint over it with watercolors to create a wax resist.

I toyed with the idea of adding measuring into the mix, but I’m glad I didn’t. Just using the ruler as a straight edge was a lot for them to process. I made sure to tell them that their squares didn’t have to match. In fact, it would make their artwork even more interesting if they didn’t! I also emphasized in the video and during class that they had to press down hard with the crayon. If they didn’t, the letters wouldn’t show through the paint.

Draw a grid with crayon and fill it with letters. Paint over it with watercolors to create a wax resist.

In my example, I used the letters of my name to fill the grid. I let the kids decide if they wanted to do their name, another word or just random letters. Most kids decided to use their name. I think next year it might be fun to use adjectives that describe them.

Draw a grid with crayon and fill it with letters. Paint over it with watercolors to create a wax resist.

Painting day was so much fun! In the video demonstration, I focused on just the basics of how to use watercolors. It was exciting to watch all of the different experimental directions that the kids went with their artwork. Some kids experimented with letting colors bleed together. Other kids tried out mixing more than one color in a square.

Draw a grid with crayon and fill it with letters. Paint over it with watercolors to create a wax resist.

Overall, this one of my favorite painting projects that I’ve done with second grade. It was the perfect balance of structured and loose. And it was an amazing introduction to the magical world of watercolors!

Earn Art Centers using a Color Wheel

I use Color Wheel Charts to reward each class for following my expectations for their behavior. When they fill their Color Wheel, they earn a Centers Day!

Supplies:

Use Color Wheel Charts to help your art classes earn a Centers Day.

When I taught middle school, I used a system where students earned minutes towards their “Free Art Friday.” It was the perfect way to give them an incentive to get through transitions quickly and clean up quickly. I wanted to modify that same idea so that it would work with the rotation schedule I have at the Elementary School.

Use Color Wheel Charts to help your art classes earn a Centers Day.

Use Color Wheel Charts to help your art classes earn a Centers Day.I started by brainstorming what behaviors were the most important to keeping our Art Room running smoothly. In order to earn their color: they have to follow my expectations about volume, clean up quickly and line up quietly.

I use our stoplight ART letters as a visual reminder of  the volume level. If it is on green, it means our volume is right on target. I warn a class when they are getting too loud and let them know that if it doesn’t get quieter, I will have to take down the green “A”. They can earn the “A” back by changing their volume. My students really respond to the simple visual reminder of the “A” being taken down.

I have a set of alarms on my computer that let each class know when it’s time to clean up and when it’s time for us to leave. After the first timer goes off, I give directions about what we need to do to clean. Depending on the project we are working on, they have 5-10 minutes to clean their table and go stand on their number for our Circle Up. During Circle Up, the Artist of the Day chooses people who are standing quietly to answer a creative thinking question.

Use Color Wheel Charts to help your art classes earn a Centers Day.

When our second alarm goes off, it means it is time for us to leave. Before they leave, I ask them to give me a thumbs up or a thumbs down as we talk through each of the three expectations they had to meet to earn their color. If they met them all, I pull out a color and put it onto their Color Wheel. If they missed one of the expectations, we review what they need to do to earn their color next time.

Use Color Wheel Charts to help your art classes earn a Centers Day.

After the first couple of rotations, I realized it was hard for me to keep track of how each individual class was doing. I decided to add the component of Extra Special Centers so that the classes that consistently earned their color would get an extra reward. I created a chart that has three circles for each class and stapled it to the envelope that holds their colors. Every time they earn a color, I cross one of the circles off. If they earn a color three times in a row, when we have centers they get a couple of Extra Special Centers like paint, Playdoh or Legos.

Use Color Wheel Charts to help your art classes earn a Centers Day.

There were a handful of fourth grade classes that were having a difficult time earning a color. In those groups, most of the kids were on task and meeting the expectations. But there was a small group of kiddos who were struggling. I didn’t like the idea of everyone missing out on centers because of the choices a few kids were making. So I created a special “Individual Centers” seating chart. I explained that each kid would being earning their color individually. It is a lot of extra work! But I saw a big difference in the overall class’s behavior once they were each held accountable as individuals.

 

 

Not Your Average Coloring Center

Elementary art students can choose to go to a coloring page center where they re-invent artwork by an artist they just learned about.

PowerPoint: Table Artists 2015 & Table Artists 2016

Supply Box Labels: Table Name ImagesTable Names

Coloring Pages: Kusama ColoringLange Coloring

This is the second year I’ve named each of my tables after famous artists. I decided to add a new element to our discussions about these artists on Centers Day. I created a Coloring Page center, where students can re-create a painting by the artist we just talked about.

I will admit, I never thought I would incorporate photo-copied coloring pages into my art classroom. (I love having students create their own coloring pages!) I was looking for a way for kids to spend more time thinking about our table artists, and this turned out to be a great way to make that connection.

At the beginning of our Centers Day, I give the kids a little background information about one of the artists our tables are named after. Then I have them talk with each other about one or two pieces of their artwork. Focusing the mini art history lessons on our table artists has definitely increased their connection to the artwork. They get so excited to hear about the artist their table is named after!

This year I wanted them to have the opportunity to work on something they could take home with them. Only seeing them once a week makes it hard for them to retain the vocabulary words that we cover. Remembering an artist’s name is even trickier!

I was able to find a lot of pre-made coloring pages online. I created one for Dorothea Lange by putting her self-portrait in PowerPoint and changing the contrast. I also found a great website called Luna Pic that will take an image and turn it into a coloring page. The page I created using one of Yayoi Kusama’s paintings turned out great!

I have really enjoyed watching the way that they bring their own creativity to another artist’s work. I also love seeing coloring pages on display in other teachers’ classroom after a student gives it as a gift!