Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Eli Halpin Sheep

I stumbled across the oil paintings of artist Eli Halpin and thought that would be a great oil pastel and coloring mixing project for my first graders.  I showed them some of Halpin's paintings and the students really got a kick out of all the colorful animals.  We drew some sheep, colored them in with some colorful circles and added a different color swirl.  They turned out very cool and the students' loved them.  Eli Halpin's work can be found here:

Amazing Masks!!!

My sixth graders finished up the plaster masks they have been working on for the past two months.  They used Paris Craft plaster strips in a mold to create the masks initially, then used tin foil, hot glue, and more plaster strips to customize and add to the masks.  It was amazing to see 100 white plaster masks come out of a mold, all exactly the same, then two weeks later every single mask had grown into its own personality.  We then painted them and added some mixed media objects.  I loved this project and was amazed at what my amazing students came up with, enjoy!!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

4th Grade DaVinci Flying Machines

This, was a fun one!  I had found an old box of uncovered paper straws hidden way back in my supply closet and was trying to think of a fun project to do with them.  Then one day, as I was looking through some of my wonderful art books, BOOM!!! There was my answer...

Leonardo DaVinci has always been one of my strongest facinations, both his art and his enginuity.  I put together a really cool slideshow showing all of DaVinci's accomplishments as an artist, scientist, anatomist, mathematician, and inventor.  I really wanted to stress that he was not only a great artist, but that his art became great through his thirst for knowledge and documenting the world around him.  We had a great discussion about his inventions and the students thought that his war inventions and scuba suit designs were especially intriguing.  Turns out there is some game called "Assians Creed" (judging by the title, might be a bit violent haha) but lots of the kids knew it and I guess in that game, the main character meets with DaVinci and gets to use many of the inventions we talked about in class!!  I thought that was pretty awesome.

I supplied the straws, popsicle sticks, string, rubber bands, and wooden shapes along with about a dozen glue guns for the students to use.  Before we started building, I stressed that DaVinci was the ultimate planner and designer, and that we needed to sketch out our designs from at least two different persepectives before we began to build.  I allowed the flying machine concept to stay pretty open, all I required was that it be some sort of flying aparatus.  Students sketched and drew for the entire first class and many continued to draw in the second week as well.

Before I let them start building, I shared a design of my own which was relatively simple and talked to them about how I would start to build.  I told them that their design must have a place for a pilot to occupy and that would be a great place to start building.  We did a demo on safe hot glue gun usage and then, the construction began...

Students built the frame or "skeleton" of their flying machine for the first two or three classes before moving onto some thin foam and tissue paper for wing and cabin construction.  I told them from early on that we could take these as far as we wanted to as far as actual working and moving wings.  In the beginning of the third class I showed students how to build hinges for the wings and a simple axel to a spinning propel.  I was worried that this would be maybe a little difficult for them, but most caught on right away and came up with some ingenious ideas as to how to make their wings not only move, but flap up and down!  There was some real problem solving and creative thinking going on here and I loved every second of it.
This student had created flaping wings by folding one of the straws after it was glued to the popsicle stick base.  He controlled the flapping with a string that was attached to the tip of each wing and ran through a guide tube back to the cockpit and was tied onto a lever.  By pushing the levers down the wings flapped up and gravitiy then took the wings back down.  I was very impressed :)

This student had made a simple axel bracket by glueing four small straw pieces in a square shape with the center opeing just large enough for a straw to fit.  She made two of these and attached them with two guide straws to line them up.  Then all she needed was a straw to slide into the two openings and it could spin freely.

The students had about five weeks to make these flying machines and they turned out amazing!! It was really nice to get away from the typical "Art" project and inject a little engineering and visual thinking into the lesson.  The kids loved it and kept saying how awesome the building was.  I have been haning up all the finished machines in my room.  More pics to come and I'm going to try and put up a few videos of the different flying designs in action!!  Enjoy :)




The Ultimate Patriot Flying Machine!!!  One of my students put two American flags on his flying machine so I had to hang it in front of the flag.

Here is a link to the video of one of our flying machines in action with its wing flapping levers and rubber bands.  I really loved these!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Pop Art Prints

I had all of the third grade students print their design in which ever color they wanted on this huge sheet of paper to replicate Andy Warhol's "100 Soup Cans."

Finally busted out the foam printing plates that I've had pulled out for a month or two.  The third graders studied some printing techniques such as woodcut and linoleum printing.  We even got a little art history as we looked at some prints from the master, Mr. Albrect Durer.  The students could not believe that his prints were cut from wood!! Then we shifted to some contemporary artists and ended up looking at Andy Warhol's oh so "POP"ular POP art.  The students loved the soup cans and as we talked about them, I explained that we too would be making POP art from some everyday items, but since we are in art class, we will be choosing something in the art room to draw a still life of. 

Students started by making some sketches and still life drawings of whichever object they chose.  After they felt comfortable, I had them put their "perfected" drawing on a 4"x6" paper which is the same size as our printing plate.  I really wanted to stress the printing aspect of this project and how the image becomes an inverse when printed, so I had students involve at least one word in their print.  It could either be a word that was already on the object they drew or if their object did not have any words they could choose a related word and use it in the background.  I gave a demonstration of how the inverse works so students had a better understanding of the "reflection" principal.  I then had all the students take their smaller drawings and put it against one of our many classroom windows and use it as a tracing table.  Students flipped their papers to the backside and traced all the pencil lines onto the backside so it was a perfect inverse. 

After finishing the inverse drawing, students taped them to their foam printing plate and began tracing all their lines with a wooden scratch stick.

In the following class, we began printing.  I had all students come back and watch me make a couple of prints.  We used a breyer and printing ink for this and it worked great.  I stressed making sure that we got a nice even layer of ink on our printing plate and making sure that the plate didn't move or wiggle once we set it down.  Students were making four different colored prints on the same paper and I set out five different colors so students could choose.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Hunter and the Hunted

I have a set of outdoor decorations that I like to hang up on my bulletin boards.  Earlier this year, I got an awesome poster about Wolf Awareness Week with a great painting of a wolf on it.  I took one of my little mouse decorations and put it right in front of the wolf's nose on the poster as a joke.  The students loved it and I though it would be fun to move the mouse around the room and hide it a bit.  I started moving it every week or two so all of my classes got a chance to find it.  I just put up an owl last week so I told students that the owl is the reason the mouse is always hiding.  Here is my latest hiding spot.
Above is the Owl

The mouse was a tough find this week.

Paint Blob Creations

I found this project idea on the Dali's Moustache blog @ and loved it.  The process itself seemed really fun and after my fifth graders just got done with learning how to draw their 3-D block letter names, we were a bit sick of rules and rulers so I thought this would be a great break and I thought of a great way to take this project in my own direction and relate it to our surrealism study we did early this year.

We started by blobbing on some paint with squirt bottles.  I prepared five different colors and encouraged students to overlap colors to create new mixtures.  We folded a piece of 9"x12" drawing paper in half before we painted and I had them paint only one side.  After squirting on some paint and getting it all messy looking (by far the student's favorite part) we folded it together and opened it up to see what we had created.  I talked with the students about what the folding had done to our painting.  We discussed symmetry and what it meant along with things that are symmetrical.

In the next class, I introduced what we were doing by asking if anyone had ever laid out in the summer and looked up at the clouds.  I asked if they had ever seen any clouds that looked like animals or other things that we recognized.  I asked them if the clouds actually really looked like those things or if they just reminded them of what we already knew.  We talked about how our brains work, how they take new information and relate it to things that we already know.  This is how we learn and process new information.  I then gave a demonstration using my own blob painting and asked students what they saw in mine.  We came up with about 10-15 different things and I chose a few of the stranger images and outlined them in sharpie.  We talked about identifying an image within the paint or using the entire painted area as am image.  We also talked about positive and negative space, especially since some of the most interesting shapes were in our unpainted white negative space.  I allowed students to choose what they wanted to outline in their paintings and before they outlined we passed them around our tables and helped each other identify things.

In the third class, I again brought up the symmetry in our paintings and asked students if they knew what asymmetry was.  Most did not know but were able to figure it out when I said, "If symmetry means both sides are the same, then asymmetry means..."  We talked about asymmetry for a bit and told them that today we would be cutting the imagined images out of our symmetrical painting and gluing them onto a bigger sheet of paper to create an asymmetrical scene.  I brought up our study of surrealism and related to all of the strange and unrelated images we found in our paintings.  Students then cut out their images, glued them on, and began drawing and coloring the background scene.  I was blown away by the creative and imaginative scenes that they made.  I was literally laughing out loud at some of their comical concoctions.  Enjoy!