Thursday, July 17, 2014

5th Grade Radial Printmaking

I'm writing this post as I'm attending the AOE Online Conference and drinking a delicious iced cappuccino. How's that for multi-tasking? 

This lesson is a new one for me this year. It is one I included in my presentation on building a printmaking curriculum for the AOE conference. For this lesson, I introduced my students to block printing using E-Z-Cut printing blocks. This material is available in several different names, and essentially replaces linoleum blocks for younger students. I used linoleum blocks in middle and high school and they required a lino cutter tool and bench hook. I remember several students who gauged fingers (and got at least a few stitches) because traditional linoleum is kind of tough to carve. E-Z-Cut is super soft and doesn't require a bench hook. It is incredibly easy to carve and makes this type of printmaking completely feasible for an upper elementary project. 

The secondary idea behind this lesson was radial design. I showed my students how to sketch out a design that would work as a quarter of a radial image. We used some Celtic knots as inspiration (although some students went in their own direction) and got to work with some sketches before drawing out the finished design on a 4"x4" piece of E-Z-Cut. Students carved with a lino cutter tool (always carving away from their hand/body) and were ready to print. They drew an arrow pointing to the center of their design on the back of their printing block to make it a little easier to print the final design. 

I was really impressed with the results of this project. It kept my 5th graders completely engaged even at the very end of the school year. If you teach 5th graders, you understand how impressive that is!

Click here to download my lesson plan for this project!


Monday, July 14, 2014

Awesome 4th Grade Reduction Printmaking

It's summer! For me, that means getting to spend tons of time with my daughter, working my butt off on some grad classes, and forgetting to update the blog with projects I didn't have time to post at the end of the school year. Well, I'm finally getting around to doing a little posting. I have several projects I need to write about, so my goal is to get a post in once a week or so until I get caught up.

This project is awesome by the way. I've gotten really into printmaking in general and my students absolutely love it. The focus here is reduction printmaking in order to make multiple color prints. It's something my students haven't done before and they get really excited about making prints with more than one color. 

Students start with a realistic sketch of an animal portrait. I'm having them pull inspiration from a series of cow portraits done by Andy Warhol. Whenever I have kids draw realistic animals, I make sure I have a lot of books for photo reference. If you don't do this, you'll wind up with your students drawing what they think their animal looks like as opposed to what it actually looks like. Once the students have their drawings finished, it is simply a process of pressing certain details into a foam printing plate, printing, then adding more details/cutting the foam. I have a full photographic demonstration at the bottom of my post of this project from last year if you're interested. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Art Product Review - The Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener

Welcome to my first official product review! I was extremely excited to get a sharpener from Classroom Friendly Supplies to test in my classroom. (Especially after my rant earlier in the year about the low quality and reliability of other sharpeners on the market.) This sharpener is marketed by an actual teacher. I will start out by saying that I wasn't able to put the sharpener into full classroom use. I got the sharpener toward the end of the year when we were super busy and fighting to get projects done before the art show and the end of the school year. I simply didn't have the time for students to play with this sharpener as I knew they would want to. I did have select students sharpen about a hundred pencils with it to put it through a bit of a test. I'll update my post after a couple months into next school year when the sharpener gets full use.

The Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener bases its design on the old crank model. I have one of these old sharpeners mounted on the wall in my classroom. Even older students can sometimes have difficulties sharpening their pencils with this sharpener because there is no mechanical way of ensuring the pencil goes into the sharpener perfectly straight. Additionally, some students keep sharpening away long after the pencil is ready to come out of the sharpener. The Classroom Friendly Sharpener solves both of these major problems. It is designed in such a way that the student isn't even holding the pencil while it is being sharpened. A mechanical holder grips the pencil and pulls it into the sharpening mechanism when the crank is turned. The pencils go in perfectly straight every single time and it automatically stops pulling the pencil in when it is sharp. I achieved an amazingly sharp pencil every time I used it. It works equally well on regular pencils as well as colored pencils. As you may know, colored pencils can be a death sentence for an electric sharpener, so I was thrilled to see that this sharpener can handle them. 

Three different pencils - all equally and amazingly sharp.
The Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener is solidly constructed and the shavings can be easily emptied. When I went to mount the sharpener on the table where I traditionally keep my sharpeners, I ran into a problem. The sharpener has mounting hardware similar to that of a drawing lamp. The counter where my sharpeners go is a little odd and isn't built to go with the sharper mount that came with the sharpener. I contacted Troy with Classroom Friendly Supplies and it turns out that I wasn't the only person who was having this problem. He now sells different mounting hardware that screws directly into the surface of the table. I'll definitely be ordering one of these mounts for the coming school year. 

Overall, I'm extremely pleased with the Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener. With the addition of the new mounting hardware, the sharpener will work perfectly in my classroom. The sharpener is designed to work for life. The sharpening mechanism can even be swapped out for a new one for a little over $10. (A little better than dropping $50 for a new electric model.) The best non-sharpening aspect about this sharpener is that it is super quiet. There are sometimes two electric sharpers buzzing away simultaneously in my room. It's enough to drive even the most calm teacher a little batty. I'm planning to purchase another Classroom Friendly sharpener to compliment the one I already have. I'm looking forward to putting them both to good use next school year. 

Friday, May 30, 2014

Great Professional Development Opportunity!

I don't know how you feel, but I think that finding professional development is difficult for art teachers. I can't recall any time that a whole building PD session had anything remotely to do with teaching art. I rarely get to meet with other art teachers. Honestly, it's one of the reasons I got into blogging in the first place. Art ed blogs are my PD. I would love to go the national convention sometime, but there is a lot of expense involved, so it's not the easiest option.

I noticed over the winter that The Art of Education was hosting an online conference. I was very interested, but it didn't work with my schedule very well. They are hosting another one this summer and yours truly (and many other amazing art teachers) will actually be presenting about a 1st-5th printmaking curriculum! I'm excited to present, but I'm even more excited to be able to see all of the other presentations. Click on the image below to find out more details about the conference. It will be awesome. 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

1st Grade Clay Owls

I think I've done three different first grade clay projects in three years. I hadn't found one that I was super thrilled about, so I tried another one this year. This particular project was borrowed directly from another great blog, "artsmudge." 

I usually like to explain how I made everything, but I'm going to refer everyone to the original link I found. Full step by step instructions can be found on the artsmudge page here.

The owls are another take on a simple pinch pot project. It was a simple project that we got done in one day. My students absolutely loved working in clay for the first time. I really like all of the texture in the clay. 

I'm still looking for a first grade clay project that I really love. Please leave a comment if you have a great one!