Here in my third year of teaching, I have only just introduced Cubism to my students, and to my younger students, at that. It is not one of my favorite schools of art, and I hadn’t really settled on how to communicate its principals. And then it struck me: PLAY! Kids relate to someone asking those “What if?” questions. They can understand someone just playing around with something, and so I took our fall inspiration to Cubism for my first through fourth grades. So after explaining Cubism’s invention as the result of a couple of artists asking those questions and playing with ideas on canvas, I introduced in Powerpoint several different Cubist artworks as examples of some of its principals. I was so thrilled when the children, instead of complaining of the strangeness of the artworks, were delighted to look for ways in which each artwork showed how the artist was playing around with the chosen element or principal.
First and Second grades then took sample leaves I had gathered that day and used them for reference in drawing contours for several overlapping leaves of their own in oil pastel. They then took straight edges and added several lines running through their artwork. They observed the colors of their fall leaves, and we began painting the shapes we had created breaking up our leaves with lines, changing color as we crossed a line. We also used a limited pallette of red and yellow, with much blending encouraged! I hoped for lots of tones of orange! I am really enjoying these.
Third and Fourth grades needed a quick one-day version, so after the presentation I passed out stencils of fall items: leaves, turkeys, acorns. They overlapped these, colored solid in oil pastels. But then, after drawing lines through their artwork, they were to rearrange their new, broken pieces, glued as a collage on a new paper. They had a lot of fun with this, and really, that was my goal. PLAY with your art!