Thursday, June 30, 2016

Japanese Koi Fish with 3rd Grade

200th post! Woohoo!

Inspiration for this project came from this post via pinterest...

I Can statements: I Can tell you something about Japan. I Can draw and paint two or more koi fish in an environment. I Can use watercolors correctly.

As i've mentioned in other 3rd grade "travels" my goal is to give my students the biggest picture of a culture or country as I can in a one project time frame. I would love to spend months on one culture/part of the world but with our curriculum as is--this is the best way that I have found to frame the lesson. To help my students track their new found knowledge, each time we "travel" to a new place I have them fill out a passport page. You can read more about this process from this post.

Day 1: Intro to Japan, passport, and practice.

We started by looking at the Japanese flag, looking at Japan on a map, and then 5 facts about Japan!

1. Japan consists of over 3,000 islands
2. There are more pets than children in Japan (this BY FAR was their favorite fact)
3. Around 24 billion pairs of chopsticks are used in Japan each year
4. Mt. Fuji, the tallest mountain in Japan, is also an active volcano
5. Koi fish are symbols in Japanese culture for good fortune, success, courage, and perseverance. They appear often in Japanese art.

Students shared experiences where they have seen koi fish before and what they looked like and made them feel.

Then the first part of their passports were filled out and it was time to start working. I provided them with the handout I created below and they practiced 4 times (or more) drawing the fish.

 I put a really big emphasis on this sketching process because their final painting was going to be on watercolor paper and they were only going to get one piece (front and back) so they really needed to be prepared and practiced in drawing koi fish. When they had it down I gave them their piece of watercolor paper (only a few students got to this on the first day).

Day 2: Final drawings, crayon outlines.

During the next class everyone moved on to the watercolor paper and to help control their watercolors they outlined everything they drew with pencil in black or white crayon. 
I found some really great and LONG youtube videos of koi fish ponds to play during work time this day and on their painting days...they also were great inspiration for when it came time to choose colors to paint their fish.

Day 3: Painting and salt demo, painting work day!

We kicked off with a demo of painting using watercolors and how to apply salt for the best results in creating one of my favorite watercolor effects. Once students started using the salt I swear it was all over my room for the next month. I put up the image below for students to look at while deciding on colors for their fish. They were also allowed/encouraged to make up their own breed of koi fish ;)

Day 4: Last workday and wrapping up Japan passport entry.

The last full class workday was spent painting and adding tissue paper flowers.

I am SO PROUD of the quality of work that came out of my students on this project. I think I have to thank the watercolor paper for that-- which really encouraged them to focus, slow down, and take their time working.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Abstract Paintings with 4th Grade

I've been MIA for a few weeks taking a break from anything school/work related to enjoy the first few weeks of break, but now I'm back in action ready to share more projects from last year!

First up, these super fun abstract paintings I did with my 4th graders...

I Can Statements:
I Can talk about abstract art. I Can create an abstract artwork using my name. I can make shades and tints to paint monochromatically.

Day 1: Started this lesson in a really fun way with my students, I had them partner up and find a spot in the room and I put up an abstract painting or sculpture on the SMARTboard. I had given them a list of a variety things to talk/think about with their partner during this activity... "How does this make you feel?" "Do you see anything in this artwork or does it remind you of anything?" "Do you think this is art?"...and other questions that would spark the conversation. After a minute or two they changed partners and I switched the artwork. This went on for 15 minutes or so and then we came back together to talk about what we heard others say and what we thought. Eventually getting to the conclusion that we were looking at abstract art. I was also a participant in this activity with my partnering up with my students.

Because the 4th grade curriculum is centered on the 4th graders themselves, I wanted to find a way to connect back to that...ergo to set up their paintings they started by writing their names (and I don't just mean writing their names on the back to identify their work). They could write their first, middle, last or any combination of their name and they had to write it in a way that created a variety of interesting shapes and spaces that could be filled in with paint. I encouraged capital letters and stretching and rotating them to create the most interesting composition and then repeating the name over and over. Check out my demo video below (sorry no sound, I narrate live to my students).

Day 2: We reviewed abstract art and then started our discussion on value and monochromatic colors. My favorite part was showing them monochromatic photography and paintings. We got busy practicing by painting a strip of paper from light to dark of their chosen color. Once I saw the strip they were free to get busy on their final artwork. I encouraged them to mix in the best way for them (I love to do my mixing right on my paper) and made sure they knew they would be in charge of cleaning their paint pallette (which we almost never use because i'm a big fan of the disposable route).

Day 3 & 4: A lot more paint and painting.

Day 5: When a good chunk of students were done painting we did my favorite part. CUTTING!!!!!! There wasn't really any guidelines for this part of the project other than changing the edge and using every little piece of their painting, no tossing scraps! The size of the pieces that they cut was up to them. For this project, I introduced them to glue sponges which really kept these looking incredible and not full of loads and loads of glue. My helpful hint was really really really holding the pieces down after gluing. I even encouraged sitting on their artwork just to make sure they were nice and flat ;) I had them keep the monochromatic theme for their background paper but I think complementary colors for their background would be a great extra pop to these next time around.

Mixing paint always keeps students engaged and I chalked this one up to a really successful project especially during our critique where they could barely sit still and keep from coming up and pointing out all the things they "saw" in each other's paintings. One more bonus--if they get behind they can skip the cutting up part!