Chinese New Year is happening in a couple days and my 1st and 2nd graders celebrated with some beautiful artwork! Check it out…
My first graders have absolutely loved making these colorful castles and they went right along with the kids fairytale unit in their classrooms. We watched several YouTube videos, our favorite being The Color Song by Scratch Garden, before we started the project.
I called them up to a group table four kids at a time to make their castles. While they were waiting and after they finished, they had a color-mixing math sheet to work on or a fairytale word find. When they finished that, they could turn it over and draw anything they wanted on the back. I suggested their favorite fairytale character.
I dropped little blobs of the primary colors along the bottom of the paper (3 tiny blobs of each color) and then they scraped with thick pieces of tag board or cardboard. I told them not to scrape all the way to the top and make the towers different levels. I helped them with the cone-esque roofs. They were totally enthralled with scraping the colors and seeing them mix. The next class was spent adding details and characters and background. Here’s a short clip of a student scraping the paint.
A couple weeks ago, one of my first grade classes got a little ahead of all my other first grades because of snow days. So while I caught all the other classes up, I had that class draw what they believe the Tooth Fairy looks like. Some of the results were great, some funny, some a little scary, but all were thoughtful. Check ’em out.
The first graders did such a great job on their snow day self portraits, I decided to do this lesson I saw on Art Projects for Kids. It can difficult to get children to draw big sometimes, so really forcing the issue and giving them specific measurements and requirements helped. We followed APFK’s directions for the most part but I gave them options for a couple of variations as well.
In the first class, we discussed Chuck Close and his amazing paintings. Next we drew our pictures with pencil and then traced with Sharpies. That pretty much took up the whole class so next week we will paint them. I’ve already had kids asking if they have to paint their real skin color or if they could paint crazy colors. I really don’t care either way. Just looking at the drawings, I know they will be super cute and filled with personality!
After attending the Art of Ed online conference, I was again inspired to step out of my comfort zone and let the kids go crazy, making some Valentines. I have always loved the IDEA of putting out a bunch of stuff and letting the kids just have a ball with it in their own, different, personalized ways. But in real life, I am not entertaining 12-14 perfect angels in my own classroom with an endless (or even reasonable) amount of time to play. In REAL life, I am educating 18-21 sweet and well-meaning first graders in 40 minutes on a cart. I have to get things set up and then cleaned up and put away within those 40 minutes because I have another class waiting on me up two flights of stairs. The stairs are not the problem. And I can be the most prepared and organized person in the world but I will never be a magic genie that can wiggle my nose and make everything clean and tidy (no matter how many times or how hard I’ve tried!!!)
With that said, I attempted this last week. It was crazy but great! I couldn’t have asked for a better, more patient set of students. Some of them didn’t even get to touch paint until 5 minutes before I had to start cleaning up. But no one complained and they were all pleased with their artwork. It was so bright and colorful and heartfelt, you just have to love it. It made them feel like real artists and that is what I strive for in EVERY class.
So, here’s to choice-based art and dirty tables…
(For real this time!)
So, I know I joked on our pitiful snow day but it did actually snow that night! We had a great time waiting and watching. I had just as much fun with the first graders, drawing self portraits in the snow!
Originally I had planned for this to be a directed drawing. But after the art conference I attended, I decided to have a go with asking the kids a question and their response is the artwork. After discussing self portraits with them, I asked them, “if you drew a self portrait in the snow, what would it look like?” They did such a great job with this! There were kids making snow angels, some having snowball fights, some riding sleds, and some up close and personal portraits of sweet smiles and ear muffs.
We used construction paper crayons on black paper.
We also took time at the end of class to point out some great things about each others artwork. The kids had some very thoughtful points to make and they all enjoyed it.
And check out some real snow pictures!