Thursday, September 20, 2012

You Ain't Nothing but a Hound Dog

Timeframe: 2 hours- small group setting
Grade Level: pre K +

Recently, I taught a series of week long art "camps" for kids at my home. I was so pleased when I realized that the students had fallen in love with a hound dog who lives with me. Her name is Alli. At first, she was a distraction. They wanted to pet her, chase her, feed her, take her outside, and trick her. In fact, I went to the kitchen to refill a drink during snack time, and returned to find a trail of popcorn from the living room, down the hallway, and into the guest shower! They were trying to lure Alli to a bath!

It was only when I realized that this was the perfect opportunity to engage them as learners that Alli became the focus, not the distraction. 

Now, if you are a teacher who is looking for projects for your classroom, don't fret! You don't have to take your dog to school. If I had been able to plan ahead for this project, I would have used a children's book  to get the students excited about hound dogs. I hear Charlie the Ranch Dog is excellent, though I have never actually read it. I would probably use the Elvis Presley song as a prompt as well. We would do some movement and reading before the visual art activity.
Here's what we did:

Basic shapes were used to draw the face of a dog. The top of the head is a soft square, the ears are long ovals, the nose is a soft rectangle etc. I use the word "soft" when talking about shapes with no sharp corners. They also used black permanent markers to trace their pencil lines.

An exiting 5th grader at work.
An exiting Kindergartener at work. 
An exiting 1st grader at work.

Next, they used white crayons to color clouds in the background and blue watercolors to create a resist. This looks like clouds in the sky behind the dog.

Last, they painted the dog using pearlescent watercolor cakes. I like Yasutomo brand. I use them a lot in my art lessons.

Super proud of this one!
This is the finished work of an entering Kindergartener!
She's never been to school or daycare!

Here's Alli!

 Copyright 2012 Amanda Koonlaba-There's a Party in the Art Room

Monday, September 10, 2012

Prickly Pear Cactus

Timeframe: Four-45 minute sessions
Grade Level: 4th

Classroom Management Helpful Hint:
Use a large black garbage bag to collect scraps of paper. When class starts, have one student from each table go to the bag and return with an arm load of the scrap paper. At the end of class, have them return what is left to the bag.


I absolutely love Denise M. Logan's Dynamic Art Projects for Children. I refer to it often, and that is where the idea for this lesson originated. However, I really enjoy adding my own twist on the projects. I also enjoy letting my students add theirs.

Here's what we did:
The students drew the cactus in pencil on a sheet of 11x14 white drawing paper. They divided each pad of the cactus into two or three sections. They used construction paper crayons to first color each section a different color, then to draw designs.

I asked the students to use the same crayon for drawing designs that they used for coloring. I wanted them to see that there is a difference in coloring and drawing with a crayon. I also wanted them to see how different amounts of pressure on the crayon can create different effects.

They used Crayola Twistables to trace around the edge of the cactus and each pad. Also, throughout this lesson, students were required to use the correct vocabulary for the parts of a cactus.

Drawing and coloring the cactus took about one- 45 minute session.

Next, the students cut out the cactus and glued it to a sheet of 11x14 black construction paper. They had to make sure that the bottom of the cactus lined up with the bottom edge of the construction paper.

They used a lot of different kinds of paper to make the spines: origami, scrapbook, construction, wrapping paper, painted scraps, etc. They had to cut each spine (a triangle shape) individually to get the desired look. When they tried to cut out a strip of triangles connected at the bottom (looked like monster teeth), they couldn't properly glue it to the rounded pads of the cactus. They did find that it was easiest and quickest to fold the paper and cut several spines at once. Then they would put drops of glue around the pad and place several spines at a time. Instead of cut one spine, add one drop of glue, place spine, cut another, drop of glue, place spine...You get the idea.

It took at least two- 45 minute sessions to cut and glue all of the spines.

I had to stress to the students that it was okay if their spines stuck off the edge of the paper. I didn't want them to let the size of the paper confine their artwork.

The final touch was to use puff paint to draw more designs on the cactus. I also stressed to them that they were using the paint to draw MORE designs, not to trace the designs that were already drawn.

This took one-45 minute session.
This student chose to use blue as her dominant color and other cool colors to accent. She also chose not to use the puff paint to add more designs to her cactus. I like to let the students have some creative control over their artwork!

This is a really eye-catching art project for the art classroom! I love the contrast of the brightly colored spines to the black paper. It would also make a great writing prompt for the regular classroom. ARTS INTEGRATION!!!

 Copyright 2012 Amanda Koonlaba-There's a Party in the Art Room

Hokusai's Thirty-Six Views of Mt. Fuji

Timeframe: 3-45 minute sessions
Grade Level: 5th
Materials: 12x18 white tag board (2 sheets per student), white copy paper scraps, warm color tempera cakes, paintbrushes, water, oil pastels (black, gray, and shades of blue), scissors, glue, black liquid watercolor, styrofoam plates, wooden scratch tools

Here's what we did:
Students viewed Hokusai's Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji. They located Japan on a map and discussed the importance of Mount Fuji in Japanese culture. This particular set of students really connected with this project because they were familiar with a local Japanese eatery called Mt. Fuji. 

Next, students created the background. They used one piece of the 12x18 white tag board to create a background. They used black, gray, and shades of blue oil pastels to color in a back and forth motion across the paper. It can be easily seen in this photo. They did not smear the pastels. Crayons would also work well for this project. I made sure the students understood that the back and forth motion had to be controlled by their wrists and hands. They were not free to "scribble scrabble". Then, they did a wash over the entire background with black liquid condensed watercolor watered down to a gray. (This created a resist with the oil pastels. "Resist" is a great vocabulary word to introduce with this project, and it lends easily to science mini-lesson about oil and water.)

On the second sheet of 12x18 white tagboard, students drew the basic shape of a volcano and cut it out. 

They used the wooden scratch tools to carve random designs into the back of the stryofoam plate. This created a stamp which allowed for further discussion of Hokusai's woodblock printing method. Then, they used warm color tempera cakes to paint the back of the plate and stamp it onto the basic volcano shape. I asked the students to go off of the volcano sheet with their stamp. This means that  A LOT of paint got on the tables. I made sure they understood that it was okay to get the paint on the tables because tempera cakes wash up easily.

They used the copy paper scraps to cut out a cloud and the ash that is running down the side of the basic volcano shape. Finally, they glued everything to the background.
This project was done in conjunction with a 5th grade science unit on the forces of nature. It is a great arts integration project.

Images and Text Copyright 2012 Amanda Koonlaba-There's a Party in the Art Room

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