Tag Archives: Africa

Twisting Their Brains…Bwahaha!

Yes, the evil art teacher did ask the first and second grades to do something ridiculous, even, dare some say? Impossible?

Or at least you would think so from the reception I got when I unveiled their drawing image. After explaining that we were going to trick their brains to help them draw better, and not to name what they see beyond line and curve and dot, I told my young students we were going to do something some of artists do as a warm-up exercise. And then I showed them the image of a lioness line drawing–upside down! They were charged to draw the lines they saw, not the image, and I walked them through the process of observing the starts and stops of lines, their curves, where they meet, etc.  A few tried to be sneaky and draw turning their own heads upside down, but most gave it a go. I think they turned out great! Then they were asked to add shapes for the mane, and fill them with lines and patterns, a la Deep Space Sparkle, as envisioned by That Little Art Teacher with lions. I think my students were really pleased with their results, once they got through the pain of focusing!

Some first grade lions:

And some second grade lions:

We could have used about 10 more minutes for paint time, but I told the kids to paint the most important parts first, because our time was limited. And I have NO idea why the scars all over some lions, but it totally cracks me up!



Filed under Art, First/Second Grade, Teaching

Homeschooling Can Make a Difference

Even in art. I teach both, and I am seeing it in my classes. I gave the benefit of the doubt at first, because the homeschool classes are quite small. However, I had a perfect test case this past week: weaving.

At school, grades 3-6 all had some variation of a paper weaving lesson, in which a sheet of paper was cut as a combo loom/warp, and  paper, ribbons, or both are woven through as weft. The struggle school students had remembering to alternate rows, and not skip warp “threads,” was notable with many students. In fact, what stood out more were those students who could weave consistently, whether right or wrong. I found this somewhat puzzling, but chalked it up to either my instruction, or the developmental stage being less advanced than I had expected. The result, though, was a whole extra day on the lesson, because do-overs kept us so long. This was true even in my fifth/sixth grades, as every fifth grader had to redo several wefts, if not all of them, although the class is only five kids big.

And then I got to do this lesson with the homeschool class: four kids in second and third grades. Mostly younger than my other classes, but I attempt older lessons with them often, because it’s a much smaller group than my dozen or so school-kids of the same age. One student had to redo a weft, and another student had skipped a warp, and that was the extent of it! They cheerfully wove paper and ribbon in quantity, chatting and consulting with one another. Their woven papers:

Creed, 2nd grade, with one dropped warp

Jenna, 3rd grade

zach, 2nd grade

Katie, 3rd grade

I see that my homeschoolers often perform a little ahead of the curve in things like cutting curves, craftsmanship, and persistence. I think credit goes to what is happening at home with these artists. These outgoing, respectful kids are creative, but listen to directions and follow through well. Sometimes they may get over-anxious or emotional when artwork isn’t turning out as they expect, and we get to learn how to celebrate and salvage our mistakes. I fancy THAT is my contribution to this group of budding artists. I have great artists at school, and they are learning valuable things, but I covet these same traits for my school kids.

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Filed under Art, Education

Out of Africa

Tomorrow we will be completely finished with Africa, which actually took longer than I had planned. I suspect dilly-dallying. Anyway, here is the hall display, with a couple of spots left for another torn-paper giraffe or two, ready for parents coming in for conferences next week. Both levels of weaving are included, but the African tortoises are on the Kinder line in the room. The walls in the art room are strung with this quarter’s art, too. And no, thus far, I am not expected to stay for conferences. The grade strips I give classroom teachers to give out with their report cards give a breakdown of each project, with an E (exceeds project requirements), and M (meets them), P(progressing toward them), N (Needs Improvement), or U for unacceptable progress, to better interpret their students’ report card grade of S, with or without plusses or minuses.

Inspired by Africa


Filed under Art, Teaching

The Victorious Struggle for Adorable Turtles

Today was the younger hall at school. I had a plan. I realize it was an ambitious plan. But honestly? My ambitions are often achieved in this school. Today, though, was more about exercising my priorities, which are not always art.

This is a post mostly about my Kinder class. Sure, first and second were uncharacteristically whiny, but these days happen; no true drama. But the Kinders were jumping beans today. I could blame it on weather, Wednesday, being indoors too much today, first day of fall around the corner, anticipating their first watercolor use, or shorter days. But WHY doesn’t matter. What matters is that a dozen small persons couldn’t even pay enough attention to repeat after me. They couldn’t keep their hands off their tools, or each other, or other students’ artwork. They had no idea what the directions were, or that I was giving them.

This was clearly NOT a learning environment!

I only get a half hour with these little guys, but I just hung a pin in the plans and called them all to the center with my stern teacher voice (a rarely used option), and we had a come-to-Jesus meeting. Inattentive students who can’t follow directions do NOT get to watercolor!

Once they were focused, we returned to the tables to finish patterns on our African tortoises, and guide the two who had missed last week through a tortoise. Gathering their paints to head to the gym to watercolor them nearly got the privilege lost, but they got a grip on themselves. Goodness! I really wanted them to learn HOW to use their watercolor with me before their classroom teacher had to use them, so I asked her for an extra 15 minutes, since so much time had been lost to practicing our self-control. She considered our time well-spent, and fully supported it!

Things went so much better once they got to dive into their much-anticipated paints. And I love the results!! Thanks to Deep Space Sparkle for the original lessons.

watercolor pattern turtle

another turtley example

How cute is that? More turtle-love can be found in their Artsonia soon!

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Filed under Art, Kindergarten, Teaching

Torn-paper Giraffe

I’m getting ready to introduce Africa in September, and thankfully don’t have to do a model for Kinders, as they will repeat the always loved line and pattern tortoise. Actually, I would link to that lesson, but find I have NEVER BLOGGED IT! (gasp) Ok, I’ll put one up of that later, with credit to its original author.

This lesson is for my first and second grades. Our focus in Africa for all grades is texture and pattern. To me, apart from the very strong emphasis on form in African art, there is a lot of opportunity to practice texture and pattern. And really, as you look at God’s creation of and in Africa, how could those elements NOT dominate their art? They are so strongly evident throughout Africa! So my students, after some guided observation of texture and pattern in Africa itself, will look for it in African art. Then, with that inspiration, we will take our tempera paints and biggest bristle brushes, with a variety of texture tools, and create a colorful page of texture as a background for our giraffe. I am showing my model as I intend it to end up, but right now my giraffe is just lying on his background so that I can introduce this stage separately from him.

torn-paper giraffe

On our second day, we’ll do a guided line drawing of a giraffe on a yellow construction paper, then cover him in torn-paper spots from brown construction paper, using real giraffe spots as a guide. I want to emphasize craftsmanship with our glueing; we have trouble with this. We will then glue our giraffes to our texture paintings. Mine will extend above the paper, because I liked the way it looks, but they can put their giraffes anywhere they want. This could extend to a third day, depending on how focused my students turn out to be. I had fun with this project, so I hope they do, too!

(Student results on this hallway display.)

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Filed under First/Second Grade, Teaching