I promised I would return with our 3rd and 4th grade coral reefs!
I first saw this idea over at K-6 Art and fell.in.love!
There's something about the ocean that simply seems to captivate children.
This was such a fun project- for all of us!
We spent a whole class just looking at different pictures and talking about the creatures that live in and around reefs. This was a perfect opportunity to discuss and clarify misconceptions about the ocean floor! So many kids wanted to add whales and dolphins to their projects so I'd highly recommend you discuss what does and doesn't actually live in or on a reef.
Here's a few inspirational pictures I took during my last visit to the aquarium.
This helped the kids visualize and focus their ideas.
We talked a lot about form, space and balance before getting our hands dirty.
The kids had a blast experimenting with different ways to create their coral pieces.
Here's how we did it.
We began by breaking the sphere into two fairly equal pieces.
With one half, they made basic pinch pots- turned them upside down and stuffed them with newspaper for support.
The other half was used to create decorative pieces such as tube coral, sea enemies, star fish and barnacles.
If the attached pieces were small, the kids just used white vinegar and that held up well.
However, if your kid's pieces are large then I'd recommend scoring and using slip to attach.
I fired the clay on a slow setting after 3 days of dry time.
It took us 4 classes: 1 to discuss, introduce and research coral reefs, 2 days to create the piece and 1 final day to paint & seal with ModPodge.
The final products are beautiful and the kids are so proud!
I'll definitely be keeping this project on my lesson plans for next year!
I got this crazy idea to start clay projects with every class and grade level following our Thanksgiving break.
Like I said... it was a crazy idea.
But, I'm still alive for now and here to share a few tips and tricks that have made my life a bit easier the past couple weeks.
So many teachers dread clay projects in the art room- and for good reason. It's messy, it's time consuming and every last kid wants one-on-one help. Don't even get me started on glazing and firing.
Oiy- and names! You can never read the names.
Let's just say it's a big undertaking ya'll.
I use Amaco Low-Fire Earthenware for my 3rd-5th graders but for my little guys I use Amaco air-dry clay. This way I only have to fire half the school, plus, for me it's about the product for my older kids and the process for my little ones.
Today I'll share my secrets to working with air-dry.
If you don't have a kiln- this is a great product!!
First off- let me tell ya about the best darn invention since sliced bread.
As soon as I found out that I was going to be teaching art this year, I began getting excited for this project.
It's one I remember doing in my elementary school art room many years ago!
It's a favorite of mine and my third graders did not disappoint!
You could use a variety of mediums for this project- this year, we used liquid tempura and oil pastel but I think next year, I'll use painted paper to switch things up and see how that goes!
So many possibilities and so little time!
But I digress.
We started off this project, like I do with the majority of my classes- front loading information and pulling out schema to get the kids in the "art state of mind". We used BrainPop Jr. to watch a short video about Vincent Van Gogh and impressionism painting. We also had a wonderful discussion about how colors can emulate feelings and emotions for both the artist and the viewer.
We did a quick directed drawing with a light colored crayon.
I like to use crayon because it encourages small hands to draw big plus any mistakes can be easily painted over.
Students used liquid tempura to paint in short strokes and they really enjoyed color mixing directly on their paper.
The problem with fun painting projects is that kids end up more engaged in mixing colors than completing the actual painting. Some of the kids had a ball just painting their vase one color and then completely painting over it another color. The artist in my gets so excited to see the kids experimenting with color- but the control freak in me panics because we're on my self-inflicted pacing guide folks and there's no time to waste- chop, chop kids.
Then I count to ten, take a deep breathe and remind myself that our kids haven't had art class in many years- playing with paint is part of the discovery process.
Then I repeat: count to ten, deep breathe....
You get the picture.
Once their completed paintings were dry (4 classes later) - students used brown or black oil pastel to outline and add definition to their vase and flower petals. This small touch really added definition!
I think they turned out really great for our first Van Gogh adventure! PTL it's Friday ya'll!
We started our project with a directed drawing of a very basic pumpkin. I don't always recommend directed drawings for your youngest kiddos- but this one was simple enough that I knew it would be achievable for even the littlest of hands.
We used 9x12 manila construction paper. I don't usually use this type of paper for paintings because it's so thin- but because I have a TON of it stock piled and the paper color matched the seasonal theme, I decided to roll with it.
They drew out their pumpkin with crayon.
Crayon seems to force children to draw large and I wanted them to fill their whole paper.
Big is beautiful- that's my motto.
I put only orange paint out first- little people need one step at a time.
Call me crazy but I let them finger paint their pumpkins.
You could use a paintbrush as well- but I find that little hands move slower with a paintbrush so we opted for gooey fingers.
When the kids came back for their next class, we used small paint brushes to trace their crayon lines with brown tempura paint. We used green finger paint for the grass. After lots of discussion about ordinal words and where grass grows, I still ended up with a few kinder babies painting grass above the pumpkin...I'm still learning to let go and let art be art.
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