Tuesday, June 14, 2016

3rd Grade Terra Cotta Warriors

I was lucky enough to post a student teacher again this year. It was my fourth time in the last five years and it went extremely well. Based simply when student teachers are placed in my building, I often will have them work with students on a couple of projects that will wind up in the art show. 

Miss Christie Paul, who was from The Ohio State University, worked with my students for a total of seven weeks. She had written this clay lesson previous to working with my students and I told her it was too cool not to use. 

Miss Paul led discussions about the Terra Cotta warriors found in China. Students learned that each one is different and the sculptures represented many different types of people, not just warriors. Each student first drew his or her own warrior before building it out of clay. The clay went together piece by piece over the course of about three classes and was put together using scoring and a few drops of water. Some details were carved in after the sculpture was finished. 

The warriors were bisque fired, then they needed some paint. We used a two step process that works very well for aging sculptures. Students first painted the entire piece with a mix of acrylic paints that gave it the basic warm light brown color. After that layer was dry, students went over the whole sculpture again with a wash of darker brown paint. This was almost immediately wiped off. The cool part of this technique is that the wash will fill into details and cracks which really brings out the smaller, more intricate elements of the sculpture. 

Overall, this lesson turned out very well. I'm very seriously considering using it again next year! 
















Monday, June 6, 2016

End of the Year All-Stars

Here's the deal. It's been a long year. At the moment, I'm simply ready for summer. I have quite a few lessons that I was planning on writing posts for, but I'm just not going to get there. What I'll do instead is post some all-star student work from various lessons that I haven't had time to write about. I'll be back to blogging this fall. Enjoy! Happy summer!


This first project is a 5th grade sgraffito mug lesson. Slab mugs topped with black underglaze. Sgraffito done with an underwater motif. Pretty rad. My example is the first image. 


2nd Grade clay dinosaurs. Always a winner. Clay with tempera paint. 


 5th grade Keith Haring paintings inspired by what is important to each student. Neon paint- oh, yeah!



 The next project is the slab castle project by 4th grade. 



Anthropomorphic animals by third grade. This project was clear at the end of the year and it was begging for more time. I'll do it a little differently next year. They still turned out really cool. 



Finally, a fan favorite. 4th grade animal reduction prints. This rock every single year. No exception this year. 








First Grade Clay Penguins

I think Instagram has surpassed Pinterest in usefulness for me. Since Pinterest keeps adding pins of things THEY think will be interesting to me and things that THEY think I'll want to buy, half my feed is essentially junk. Conversely, there are a lot of art teachers who post relevant, real life lessons, ideas, and observations on Instagram daily. I've gotten a good amount of new lesson ideas this year from Instagram and I've had great success with them. If you want frequent updates from my classroom, follow me on Instagram @thomas_elementary_art

One Instagram post by another teacher (@mrsallainart) inspired this new first grade clay lesson. I always base my first grade ceramics project on the pinch pot. This project included a wide, shallow pinch pot as well as a simple penguin. Penguin details (wings & beak) were added by simply smoothing clay together. The penguins were scored to attach to the base. The sculpture portion was pretty fun and not too difficult for my first graders, but the killer part of the lesson was the ice. 

I bisque fired the penguins after they had been sculpted. I then added several blue decorative glass marble type things to the base of each penguin. I got the glass from the dollar store. They're not perfectly round, but I would imagine real marbles or even small pieces of other types of glass would work just fine. I re-fired at cone 05 and achieved this sweet ice effect. The glass melted very nicely. I just recommend that you put plenty of glass in. I wound up adding more glass and re-firing the first set that I tried because they needed more glass to cover the bottom. 

This project was a big hit with the first graders and everyone up through 5th grade was super jealous that they didn't get to make one. I guess that's one way of knowing a lesson was successful. 






Monday, May 16, 2016

The Quest for Three Dimensions

Ok. Back to a regular posting schedule. I'm excited about this one. Really excited. 

About this time last year, I scheduled my art show with an outside company called Artomé. My building keeps growing right along with my student population. Seriously. We're putting on our second addition as I'm sitting here typing this. I decided to use Artomé to try to make the art show a bit easier. It definitely worked, but more to come with that in a later post. 

Another benefit of using Artomé is that it's also a fundraiser. That aspect became a bit of a conundrum. My yearly budget, though it has declined as I have gotten more students, is sufficient. I'm very lucky. I was thinking that whatever money I would raise through the art show could go toward a larger piece of equipment. What would it be, though? A printing press? No, one press for a class of 30+ doesn't make sense. A glass kiln? No. Not necessary. What could I possibly get? I then had that aha moment. A 3D printer. 

Then came the next problem. 3D printers cost money- a lot of money. I hoped to raise $500-600 at my art show, but the printer I had my eye on cost quite a bit more than that. I researched grants and came across one that I applied for and got. I presented to PTO. They were pumped up about it and granted my request for funds. I then had my art show and raised nearly $900. All of my work and preparation paid off. I bought my printer- the Ultimaker 2+ (at a 10% educator discount!) 
A collection of pre-loaded designs. 

I'm using some spare time this spring learning how to use it. It's pretty easy to get running, actually. Even though I hadn't ever even seen a 3D printer in person, I had it running 30 minutes after it was out of the box. I've been doing a series of test prints recently. Some are things that were pre-loaded on the memory card, some are my designs, and some are files from online sources. I'm wrapping my head around what the printer can do so I can design curriculum around it for next year. 
Holy Cretaceous Period, Batman! 

My plan is to use it with my 4th and 5th grade students next year. There is a free online program called Tinkercad that is pretty intuitive to use. A colleague of mine even uses it with 1st graders. I'm currently brainstorming ideas to use for lessons. Ideally, I'd like to develop something that will display well together. For example, my colleague built upon the idea of an imaginary world. One grade level designed buildings, another did public art, etc. You get the idea. 

Have any of you worked with a 3D printer in your classroom before? What have you done with it? I'm super excited to see it fully in action next year! 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Neglect

ne·glect
nəˈɡlekt/
verb
  1. 1
    fail to care for properly.
    "the old churchyard has been sadly neglected"
    synonyms:fail to look after, leave alone, abandondesertMore
noun
  1. 1
    the state or fact of being uncared for.
    "animals dying through disease or neglect"
    synonyms:disrepair, dilapidation, deterioration, shabbiness, disuseabandonment
    "the place had an air of neglect"

So....yeah. It's been a while. Two and a half months. Ooops. Life has been a little intense during that time. Nothing bad, just extremely busy. In the same week I had my school art show and also moved. Life took precedent over blogging. I've got some cool projects to share in the coming weeks including the acquisition of a 3D printer. For more frequent updates, follow me on Instagram. I try to post most school days @thomas_elementary_art

Friday, February 26, 2016

2nd Grade Secret Code Collage

Do you guys know Hope Hunter Knight from Mrs. Knight's Smartest Artists? Other than commenting on blogs and on Instagram, I don't know her a bit. I feel like our philosophies about art ed are very similar. We've shared several lesson ideas and this one is totally ripped off inspired by her original post

This is the second year I've done this lesson with my 2nd graders and I decided it was going to be one of our art show projects this year. The whole project is inspired by a French artist by the name of Auguste Herbin. I know a lot of artists, but he was not one of them when I came across Hope's post. I immediately knew the project would be a winner, though. Essentially, Herbin created his own "secret code" alphabet called Alphabet Plastique. 

I have my students each come up with a title consisting of one or two words. They devise a simple geometric code for each letter in their title. The codes will eventually be made out of construction paper, so they can't be too crazy complex. 

When my students did this last year, I tried to have them plan out the final version of their work in a way that didn't leave any blank space. It got a little too intense. This year, I simply gave students various rectangles of card stock and let them figure out how to best fill their paper. If there was negative space left, it wasn't a big deal. I wound up with better results and fewer headaches. Most kids filled up their page anyway. 

I'm blown away by the work my students create. I have to stop and remind myself that they were made by kids who are only 7 or 8. 

I usually post my lesson plans, but I'm not going to post here because the lesson really isn't mine to post. You can see more details over at Mrs. Knight's blog. 


Seriously. The complexity of shape and the overall design are stunning.