My daughter did a science project for her first grade class last week, where she showed how colours could be separated using a coffee filter and water. The class were fascinated, so I had an idea to incorporate their interests into our next art project.
One of Chihuly’s famous series are Macchia. These look a little like glass bowls, similar in shape to a coffee filter and are made by experimenting with different colour combinations. I showed the children pictures of Macchia and a short video showing how they are made.
Macchia means spots. I asked the children to decorate a coffee filter using washable markers, adding a variety of colours and including spots in their design. I showed them some examples from home, some had white spaces and some had the whole filter filled with colour.
When the designs were finished the children placed them on an upside down plastic cup and secured them with a rubber band.
They were then sprayed with spray starch. We protected the floor with paper and sprayed each one from a distance so the starch would create a fine mist and the filters wouldn’t get too wet.
This is quite a quick project but the children were keen to make more. Most children made two or three in a 45 minute lesson.
The designs were left overnight to dry.
The finished designs were mounted onto black card. These were joined to make a collaborative display but I chose to put each bowl on an individual piece of card so they could take them home.
LeRoy Neiman’s lions encapsulate both aspects of the theme perfectly and are bright and bold so fit the criteria for square 1 art projects.
Draw the outline of the lion’s face.
We made sure, the face was a good size and talked about different shapes for the face. This shape was similar to LeRoy Neiman’s lion and makes the lion appear as if it is looking sideways.
Draw the lions eyes, nose, mouth and ears.
We tried out different shaped eyes and noses. Once the children were happy with their drawings, they outlined them in black sharpie.
Paint the Mane. I showed them how to make sweeping brushstrokes, starting at the edge of the face and moving outwards. I encouraged them to use lots of bright colours and to try not to mix them too much.
Some used straight lines
Others chose curved lines
And some let the lines move in different directions.
Paint the face. We looked at Neiman’s use of colour – how he used light colours on the nose and chin and darker colours in the shadows. Again, I encouraged them to keep the colours distinct to make a patchwork effect.
Once the paint is dry, outline the features again in sharpie (this helps it to show up when the art work is reproduced by Square 1) and paint a watercolour wash for the background.
This child didn’t want to outline the lion’s face, preferring to let the face and mane merge into one another.
Some chose heart shaped faces
Some filled the whole page with patchwork colour
Some added ears
and some preferred lions without ears.
I love how individual they all are. Bright, bold and full of personality – perfect for a square one art project. I can’t wait to see how they look once their are printed onto keepsakes.
For this months art lesson with third grade, I chose to make wire circus performers inspired by Alexander Calder’s circus. When the children were in 1st grade we made Giacometti inspired wire sculptures. The thicker wire in these sculptures was difficult to bend so I chose thinner wire this time.
The lesson began with the book Sandy’s Circus by Tanya Lee Stone. This picture book tells the story of Calder’s youth, how he came to enjoy wire sculpture, become an artist and create his moving circus.
The Whitney Museum of American Art have actual video footage of Alexander Calder working his circus. I showed the children this video from 1927, but there are many others.
For our project we made trapeze artists. I thought they would look great on a display especially if we could string them across the classroom.
Bend the piece of wire in half and twist the top to create a loop for the head.
2. Fold from half way along the remaining wire towards the centre to make arms.
3. Twist the arms, leaving a loop at the end for hands. Twist part of the remaining wire together to form a body.
4. Open the bottom of the wire out to make legs (cut if too long). Add loops for feet.
5. Cover the surface with masking tape. Add extra layers for padding out specific areas.
Once the class had made their basic shapes for their trapeze artists, they were given a variety of materials to create, costumes, hair, faces and props. To join the material to their sculpture, some made holes and threaded pieces through, some used tape or glue and some used the wire to wrap around the material, joining it to their circus performer.
Making the Trapeze
Join two pieces of wire to a wooden ice cream spoon and attach to a straw. The children posed their trapeze artists in different positions and we took pictures to remind ourselves of the poses, when we put them on display.
I love the way they turned out and how each child put their individual character into their sculpture. I’d love to have the time to do a full-scale project and create a whole circus. We could investigate different ways of building and making the models move, perhaps with individual groups working on different aspects of movement. Perhaps some of the kids will be inspired to do this at home?
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If you love this lesson, pin to Pinterest for future reference. Other art lessons can be found on my Art Lessons Board
Last Year in Kindergarten, my art lessons were centred around investigating different art materials. This year, now they are in first grade, we will explore those materials further, whilst learning about the elements of art and introducing new artists.
A Lesson about Line
Ask a child to draw a line. The first child I chose drew a bumpy line. The next child drew a straight line.
Discuss different types of lines and introduce the terms horizontal, vertical and diagonal.
Look at how to use the different lines to make shapes, two diagonal lines and a horizontal line make a triangle etc.
Introduce Mondrian’s paintings. Talk about how he arranged horizontal and vertical lines to make the shapes and sizes he wanted.
It is then time for the children to try their own.
Black tempura paint in a flat tray
A square or rectangle of stiff cardboard
Show the children how to dip the edge of the cardboard in the paint and remove any excess paint by dabbing it on the tray.
Show them how to print lines on the paper in different arrangements to make shapes. Though Mondrian only used horizontal and vertical lines, the children in my class were also allowed to use diagonal lines in their compositions.
3. While the children print, talk to them about the shapes and arrangements they have made. Remind them to close up their shapes so they can be coloured later. As Hallowe’en was looming, spider webs were particularly popular.
Making a Fancy Line
While we waited for the paint to dry, we talked a little more about lines. We looked at a sketch and found the different types of lines used in the picture.
The next challenge was to make one long line, composed of five different types of lines, without taking their pencil off the paper.
I demonstrated them some examples.
They tried their own in pencil and then went over their lines in marker. Some children had difficulty making a single line and wanted to join it to make a shape. For those that did this I encouraged them to focus on the line by outlining it in marker without filling in any colour in the centre.
Mondrian and Primary Colours
Look at Mondrian’s compositions again. How does he use colour?
Talk about primary colours, what they are and why are red, blue and yellow the primary colours?
Look at how Mondrian paintings used primary colours to shade some of the shapes in his compositions.
The second part of the project
Ideally, I would leave the black paint overnight to dry. We have limited time for art so this was not possible and some of the paint was still wet. We blotted the worst of the paint off with a tissue.
Red, yellow and blue markers (you may also want to include black)
What to do
Use the markers to fill in some of the shapes, leaving some of them white. Try to fill in each shape with solid colour and not leave any gaps so they look like Mondrian’s compositions.
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The girls are totally hooked on the television survival series Alone and eager to go out into the woods and test out their skills. My 6-year-old can often be found attempting to whittle a stick with a pair of blunt ended scissors. It worried me that she didn’t have the correct tools to do this properly and I felt it may be more dangerous to whittle with scissors than with a suitable knife.
My husband bought my eldest a knife when she was younger, so we discussed when might be a suitable time to introduce the younger girls to knife skills. I always believe that when children show a strong interest in learning a skill, then the time is right to introduce them to the appropriate tools. My youngest has very strong motor skills and co-ordination and follows instructions well. The girls are able to peel vegetables with a peeler and have practised chopping fruit and vegetables with a small kitchen knife. With this in mind, we decided the time was right to buy the girls their first knives.
My husband researched the knives used by a local wilderness school and decided on the morakniv fixed blade outdoor knife. The knives are the perfect size for little hands. They have a grip handle, sharp blade and a sheath with a clip belt. They come in a variety of colours. We chose neon colours, so they would be able to see them easily.
The first lesson was how to get the knife out of its sheath. They were a little frightened at first but soon got the hang of it. These knives have a bump at the side to remind the children of the correct way to face the knife when removing it from the sheath.
The children have to follow the following rules and guidelines:-
They are only to use the knives under adult supervision
Always put the knife back in its sheath when not in use.
The knives are to be stored in a special drawer and always put away after use.
Never cut towards their hands (they’ve seen what happens if this rule is broken on Alone).
Always sit down when using the knife
Always keep their eyes on what they are doing. If they need to look away, put the knife away first.
The girls loved whittling sticks and were desperate to try other projects. I bought them a book on whittling, The Little Book of Whittling. Some of the projects were difficult with their knives because the blade was too long. On our camping trip this summer, we bought them a multi tool with a smaller knife. With this, they were able carve more successfully and new skills were learned. They learned how to fold it safely and we only had one small accident when my youngest closed it a little to close to her hand. This made the girls more careful in future.
Whittling has been the favourite pastime of the summer. I had to spend a lot of time supervising them, and my garden is littered with bits of wood and splinters but they have had so much fun and learned a lot.
One of my favourite projects, was sharpening sticks to put in the ground and make a playground. They added string to join pieces together and made a zip wire, slide, climbing frame and monkey bars.
They spent a lot of time stripping bark from sticks. Some they used for tent pegs, some they sharpened to make arrows and sometimes they simply whittled the sticks for fun.
They also learned to split pieces of wood with a knife. They used a thick stick as a hammer to push the knife through the wood.
They attempted to make a spoon, like one of the contestants on Alone, but hollowing out wood was a little tricky with their knives. They found it much easier with the multi tool.
They came up with all kinds of imaginative projects,some more successful than others. In the video my daughter demonstrates how she is making a rain collector. The large stick on the floor is the one they used as a hammer, to split sticks. You can clearly see the difficulty the girls had with hollowing sticks. This project remained unfinished, which is just as well considering we haven’t had any rain this summer!
I can’t wait to see what they achieve as they become more skilled.
clear plastic or sheet of glass from a photo frame
bowl of water
I bought sun sensitive paper for my girls as a gift, but today was our first trial. We set out to find objects to place on the paper. Our first attempt used loose parts.
1. Create your designs inside, away from sunlight and put the paper on cardboard or a tray to help carry it outside.
2. Cover the picture with glass to stop it blowing away and keep it flat and place in the sun for 3-5 minutes. The paper will turn white.
3. Remove the glass and the objects. Place the paper in a bowl of water for 1 minute, to stop the chemical reaction.
4. Remove the pictures and leave to dry.
As you can see, one of the pictures came out clearly, whereas the other had only faint prints. The girls discussed why this might be.
Why did mine work better? I thought mine was in the sun longer but the other one was definitely in the sun for longer, so I don’t know.
It wasn’t because my things were heavier because I used sequins too. Maybe it wasn’t pressed on as hard?
I suggested they try another, to see if they could work it out. This time we searched the garden for natural materials. Usually, I only let the girls use natural things from the ground, but this time I gave them permission to pick flowers and leaves. They searched the flower bed and found things they hadn’t seen before, climbed the tree to reach leaves and lichen and we found that even weeds could have interesting shapes.
They chose their favourites to make a design.
And left them in the sun to develop
This batch was both successful.
I love the detail of the smaller leaf. The girls reflected on the success of these pictures.
I think it worked better this time because we laid the leaves really flat before we started, or perhaps it is because we left it in the water for longer? But I don’t think that would make a difference.
Even the little sequins came out this time.
We saved a few sheets for their big sister to try, it will be interesting to see what she will create. I also ordered bigger sheets because some of the bigger leaves didn’t fit on the 5×7 paper.
I recently cleaned out the linen cupboard and gave the kids a huge bag of old sheets to play with. They like to make-up stories and turn them into royal capes or build dens with them. In amongst them was a white sheet. I thought it could be used to build a shadow puppet theatre in the garden. We have a swing set that isn’t safe to use, so I removed one of the swings and fastened the sheet to the frame.
The children and I made puppets from cardboard. The children chose characters and I helped them draw them in silhouette. They collected sticks from the garden, whittled them to smooth them out and stuck the cardboard characters on with tape.
I also found images of hand shadows. I printed and laminated them and stuck them on the swing set frame for reference.
We had to do a bit of work cutting back the tree branches to make a clear screen, but soon it was ready. The magical stories they have created have been wonderful. I think this would be a great resource for a school or pre-school to encourage story telling and build the foundations of story writing. You could build it outdoors or inside with a light source behind.
Videoing the story showed the children where they needed to improve. They saw that sometimes you couldn’t see the characters well because they were too low or placed at an angle. They also noticed that the size of the puppet changed according to how close to the screen it was.
I love the way my daughter played with accents and voices. It particularly love the voice of the bird and banana man in the land of the forgotten.