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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!