We all have those classroom speed racers who are done with a project in the blink of an eye. Coincidentally, these students also seem to be my busybodies and mischiefs. This past summer, I took some time to revamp what my early finishers can do when they are finished. If students aren’t sure what they can do when they are finished, I have a sign that lists all of their choice time options. I also have signs at each station that talk about the do’s and don’ts of each station.
Here is a video that I made last year that I showed to my students that discusses each station. It’s pretty dry to watch but you’re welcome to view it!
Typically with 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, I give them the choice to free draw. I have bins in my room that have scrap papers sorted by color. They are welcome to use these papers to draw or cut whatever they like out of them. I have the Art of Ed drawing prompts list posted next to the free draw paper to give students ideas to draw if they are stumped. I also have how-to-draw book to help them out. I do not allow students to glue during free draw time though. I found that any sense of how to use a glue bottle properly went out the window and I was quickly running out of glue.
I have always used ‘sketchbooks’ with my kinders and 1st graders. The one I use with kindergarten is moreso a bunch of coloring pages for them. I’m sure many of you have your own thoughts, good or bad, on coloring books but I find it good practice for the kids to practice their fine motor skills trying to color in the lines. I have large bins of crayons and students know to grab them and use them in their sketchbooks. I only allow the use of crayons for early finisher activities. 1st grade’s sketchbooks have a mixture of coloring pages as well as some pages that have drawing prompts. I also have sketchbooks for 2nd grade but we only work on those once in a while, not whenever students finish early. 2nd grade’s sketchbooks are all drawing prompts. The Art of Ed has a great list of drawing prompts that can be found here!
I was walking through the Dollar Tree (I’m super addicted to that place!) last summer and found a bunch of Norman Rockwell puzzles. I snagged about 6 of them for my classroom. Each puzzle is 500 pieces. Because the puzzles were only a $1, it’s clear that they were obviously cheaply made. Because of their low quality, the pieces don’t interlock very well and oftentimes come apart if bumped. Secretly, this has become my little addiction in my classroom. If I have a down minute or two, I’ll work away at the puzzle. I have a taped off square that I require the puzzle to stay in so pieces don’t end up scattered across my counter. I also only allow 3 students to work on the puzzle at a time.
A few years ago I received a grant for using fibers in my classroom. I purchased a bunch of snow-fencing and fabric with the grant for a weaving project. Since then, my custodian has built me a PVC frame with a wooden base. I stretch the pieces of fencing on the PVC frame and then students are allowed to weave pieces of fabric into the fencing. My fabric strips are cool colored in hopes that I could subliminally mellow students out. Shhhh, don’t tell the students. I allow 5 students to work at the weaving wall at once.
Do a Job for Mr. Calvert
Some students like to do jobs for me when I am finished. Some days I have jobs for them, other days I don't. This can include sorting through my paper bins and throwing away pieces too small to use, wiping down tables and counters, picking up/setting out art supplies, or peeling crayons (they love to peel crayons).
Read a Book
I have a large bookshelf with tons of books that students are welcome to read. Many of the books have been donated to me from our school library when they pull old books out of circulation.
I have already begun to think about more activities that students can do for next year. Here are a few more that will be added this coming school year.
Our PTO was gracious enough to give each teacher a sum of money to spend on Scholastics stuff. I chose to purchase a couple large bins full of legos. I will probably allow 3 or 4 students to work with each bin of legos next year. I also need to figure out where I am going to have students work with these so that they don’t end up scattered all over my classroom.
A couple teachers have given me their old Bendaroos to use. Bendaroos are strings that have some kind of waxy/greasy coating over them. You can stick them to things such as walls or doors. I thought students could use these to draw on empty parts of my walls.
I recently acquired a small storage bin that can fit 6x6 sheets of paper in it. I am going to cut down some different colored printer papers, as well as print off different origami instructions so that students may work on origami when they are finished.
Participating Art Teacher Blogs:
STEAM / Art Integration
I wanna start off by saying that I am in no way an expert in this style of teaching. I believe that teaching art naturally lends itself to a lot of interdisciplinary learning in all sorts of different content. However, I’m gonna discuss a few projects that I do with my students that tie into what they are learning in their classroom. I believe that these are more of an Arts Integration style of teaching than they are STEAM, but my understanding of the differences between these two are a little fuzzy!
Our 3rd graders have a unit on minerals where they learn about them, grow them, and even go on a field trip to a cave where they learn about some of the local minerals.
In the art room, I tied in learning about Karina Eibatova who is a Russian-born artist who makes beautiful watercolors of minerals. We study the different shapes of raw minerals/gems compared to cut stones.
Throughout the project, students draw out a mineral, then they practice mixing tints and shades to fill it in over the next couple classes. Here is a write up of the first time I did the project. The 2nd time I did it, (I forgot to do a write up) I changed it up a bit based on a project I saw on mizzzlee_art on Instagram. You can see our Artsonia gallery of those at: https://www.artsonia.com/teachers/members/projects/artwork.asp?id=1362692
Bugs and Symmetry
I teach this project to 3rd grade, however, it covers some topics that they learn in both 2nd AND 3rd grade. In 2nd grade, they have a big unit on bugs and learn about their different body parts. In 3rd grade, they discuss symmetry in math. I combined these two ideas into a bug symmetry project!
For this project, we take a look at a British photographer named Levon Biss. Levon is a commercial photographer who typically takes pictures of athletes for advertisements. He started a side-project and began taking pictures of bugs in his free-time. I love the bugs because of the incredible amounts of detail and his excellent lighting of the subjects. Levon takes around 8,000-10,000 pictures of a single bug, focusing in on tiny sections of the bug while changing the lighting over and over to get rid of shadows. He then takes all these photos of bug parts and jigsaws them together using computer software. Lastly, he prints these out on HUGE posters! 3rd grade loved looking at these itty bitty creatures and their symmetrical bodies!
In art, we talk about how the bugs have symmetry. This project usually builds off of previous symmetry projects and puts their skills to the test. Throughout their bug collages, we make sure that whatever we do to one side of the bug, we also do to the other.
Here is a write-up to our Levon Biss project from earlier this year.
Damien Hirst Butterflies
This is similar to the Levon Biss project I just discussed. In 2nd grade, students learn all about butterflies and actually raise a butterfly through its stages of metamorphosis.
To tie-in what they are learning about in Science, we study Damien Hirst who has a lot of work using butterflies. Damien has a wide variety of art but we focused on his spin paintings. Hirst has a table that spins in a circular motion. He puts paint onto the table and as it spins, it moves the paint around. Sometimes he takes the spin paintings and then cuts them into new shapes like a butterfly.
For this project, students make spin paintings using the primary colors. As the primary colors spin and mix, they make the secondaries which is a nice refresher for them. The next class they use black paint and paint half of a butterfly on their spin painting before folding it in half. This prints a symmetrical butterfly onto the other side of the spin paintings.
You can read about this awesome project here!
**** BONUS PROJECT!!!
Cai Guo-Qiang and Force
So this is a project that I have NOT done yet but I thought I would let you all in on a little project that I’ve been incubating through these cold Wisconsin months!
Cai Guo-Qiang is a Chinese artist who uses gunpowder to create drawings that are burnt onto his canvases. Videos of his work are quite the sight to behold!
In 3rd grade, students talk about forces and pressures and how things can be pushed and pulled. I thought it would be cool to put small pieces of Alka Seltzer into film canisters with a couple drops of a primary colored liquid watercolor. The water creates a reaction with the Alka Seltzer and begins to build pressure inside the film canister. When the pressure grows to be too much, the cap explodes off with color shooting onto the paper. This would be such a cool and fun way to do some color mixing by exploding the primary colors on top of each other! Here is a youtube video demonstrating the process: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4WK8X6KMq6k
As I said before, this is a work in progress though. I still need to find out how to go about doing this without exploding paint all over the students! I’ll be sure to let ya’ll know when I find the solution!
This month, The Art Ed Blogger's Network is writing about STEAM/Art Integration. Join us on the first Tuesday each month for new projects, ideas, and inspiration.
Participating Art Teacher Blogs:
Congrats to Brooklyn, Khloe, and Aubrey on being chosen to represent Harmony for Youth Art Month! Their artwork will be on display at the state capitol until March 9th!
Congrats to Morgan and Annie for being chosen as our Artists of the Month!
Morgan did a fabulous job demonstrating symmetry in her artwork inspired by Maya Hayuk! I also like how she worked from light colors to bright colors which helps to give her work a sense of space! The overlapping creates a lot of complexity as well!
Annie's artwork also deals with space! She used tints and shades to create mountains. The different use of values creates a foreground, middleground, and background. I also loved her energetic pose standing atop the mountain! This work was based on Caspar David Friedrich's "Wanderer Above a Sea of Fog."
Artists That Inspire Us
I’ve been anxiously awaiting this first blog post of Cindy Ingram’s Art Ed Blogger’s Network series! I’m super honored to be apart of such an eclectic group of bloggers. We were tasked with kicking off the series with the question “Artists that Inspire Us.” I went back and forth on whether this should be about artists who inspire my own artistic creations or on artists who I think are just plain rad. I went with the latter. Hope you enjoy three of my personal favorites!
Do-Ho Suh is a contemporary South Korean artist. I first learned about Do-Ho in college when my professor showed me his Art21 video. Last year, I had the opportunity to see an exhibition of his in Madison, WI! Living in Wisconsin, it’s not often I get to see exhibitions like this due to the lack of art museums and galleries in the state so I was pretty psyched when I heard he was gonna be in the area. Besides having the exhibition, I also listened to him give an artist talk and detail his thought process! Check out some of my pictures below!
He has a wide range of works but the ones that I am particularly drawn to are his recreations of the places he has lived. He builds them out of a fine, transparent mesh that has a ghost-like feel when you can see through the walls into several different rooms at once. He leaves no detail overlooked and stitches every little thing that you can imagine in a home; thermostat, outlets, toilet (with the piping inside), radiator, air conditioner, etc.
Another work of his that I am particularly fond of is his Rubbing/Loving series. For this artwork, he covered his entire apartment in paper. He then created texture rubbings of everything in the apartment. The repetitive process almost becomes a sort of meditation for him as the space’s details emerge. When finished, he removed the paper and now displays the rubbings so that they are flat on walls. This creates a sort of ‘blueprint’ to his home.
Here is a project by my 3rd graders who were inspired by Do-Ho.
Ursula von Rydingsvard
Here’s another artist I learned about in college during an Art21 video! Seriously, if you haven’t checked out that series, you need to. Ursula is another artist I had the opportunity to listen to talk about her process. She was one of the keynote speakers at NAEA17 and one of my personal favorite sessions to attend. She makes colossal-sized sculptures out of pieces of wood. I couldn’t get over how amazed I was that such a small, petite woman was making such large monstrosities! She grinds, marks, and cuts into the wood before piecing all of them together. Lastly, she rubs a graphite into them to give them more of an aged appearance.
Her work is inspired and resembles “landscapes, the human body, and utilitarian objects (Art21).” I particularly enjoy how each sculpture seems to take on a life of its own. Many appear as if they are monstrous creatures slumping across the floor.
Julie Mehretu is another artist I learned about in college through an Art21 video. I swear that I didn’t have the intent to feature 3 Art21 artists, it just sorta happened! In college, I actually created an artwork inspired by Julie.
Julie is inspired by maps, topography, landscapes, and architecture and uses a little bit of each in her works. I am always drawn to artists that are influenced by maps, I think in part because maps lend themselves to being more geometric which reflects my own work. I particularly like how Julie picks and chooses parts of these things when she paints. She won’t necessarily paint an entire building but may choose to just paint the windows, then she layers other parts of other buildings on top of that. Her plethora of layers makes for a dense, complex looking composition.
Here is a project I did with my 3rd graders inspired by Julie.
Participating Art Teacher Blogs:
Congratulations to Bella and Kelsey for being chosen as the December Artists of the Month!
Bella demonstrated great control of her scissors when making her Shape Robot! She added some wonderful details to her robot using crayons. I particularly like the antennas that she put coming out of her robot's head! Lastly, she printed a border of shapes using gold paint. Nice work Bella!
Kelsey was chosen for her artwork inspired by Julie Mehretu! Throughout the project, Kelsey layered parts of maps to create an abstract work of art. I was particularly drawn to Kelsey's choice of colors. She also showed thoughtfulness towards her composition by using a nice blend of lines (roads) and shapes (buildings). Great work, Kelsey!
Congrats to Makai and Josie for being the November Artists of the Month!
Makai showed great control when cutting out his squares and rectangles during our Piet Mondrian inspired project. He also showed awareness of his composition by not printing too few or too many black lines.
Josie's artwork was inspired by James Rizzi. She demonstrated her knowledge of the rainbow order by painting her buildings in that order. She also added several different wild emotions to her buildings and showed a sense of space by overlapping.
Congratulations to Foster! He was the recent winner of a contest put on by the city of Milton! Students were asked to create a billboard design that dealt with pollination. This past weekend he was awarded a plaque and his artwork will soon be seen around Milton on a billboard. Keep your eye out for it!
This year, Harmony is trying something new. We will be spotlighting 2 Artists of the Month! The Artists of the Month will have their artwork hung in Mrs. Stuckey's office and also receive a certificate for all their hard work!
Kaydence (left) and Jazalynn (right) were selected to be our first Artists of the Month! Nice work ladies!
Kaydence's self-portrait, inspired by street artists RETNA and El Mac, does a wonderful job of portraying proper facial proportions. She created her own symbols and written language that she used to fill her ENTIRE background, going above and beyond what I expected!
Jazalynn's beautiful mountains were inspired by Alexander Calder. Her great brushwork using the primary colors and drawing of mountains does a wonderful job of portraying a sense of space!
Gotta give a huge shout out to Don Masse over at shinebritezamorano.com for this project idea.
I finally got this beauty hung up so I thought it deserved a new blog post. I always start off the school year with a school-wide collaborative project. I took the opportunity to talk about how we as a school are united and a team yet there is still variety amongst us. We talked about how unity and variety could be seen in each classroom and how this would happen with each quilt piece. Although 20+ students from each class used the same colors and shape (triangles), no two quilt-squares turned out exactly the same. This year, we studied Libs Elliott. She is a contemporary artist who uses a computer program to randomly generate designs that she then turns into quilts. Each student created a square that would be used on the quilt. I also switched one color each class so it made a nice transition through the rainbow.
Harmony and Consolidated Elementary Art Teacher in Milton, WI. UW-Eau Claire graduate. WAEA President-Elect. Apple Teacher.