Wednesday, January 6, 2016

3rd Grade Charley Harper Inspired Cardinals

Stop! Harper time! 

Wow. That was super lame. It did make me chuckle, though. It's also true. Right before winter break is when I typically have my 3rd graders study the work of Charley Harper. The outcome is a lesson that forces students to think and create art in a new way. It also looks pretty wintery and makes for a great display.

This lesson is all about Charley Harper, an artist who lived in Ohio the majority of his life. If you're familiar with his work, you know that he uses flat, graphic shapes to create mainly images of wildlife. As my school is in Ohio, I have students all make cardinals. I don't like limiting a project that much, but it works out in this case for a couple of reasons. First, there are limitless ways to create a cardinal out of flat, graphic shapes. No two students create identical cardinals. It also gives me the opportunity to display quite a few reference pictures, so students can get a really good grasp on what they are creating. 

I have students start with about 30 minutes of small sketches. I usually have students draw quite a bit before they begin a final project and it results in more thoughtful work. Students then select their favorite sketch and use construction paper to recreate it. They then create a background. More choice is included in making the background. I demonstrate how to make trees (using a dry brush technique), how to make snowflakes (using white paint and the handle of a brush), snow drifts, berries, and bird footprints. Students chose to use any or all of those ideas to make their own background. As has been the case before, the results of this lesson are super successful. 

Download the lesson plan for this project here!

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