May 21, 2010

Third Grade, Part Uno

My third graders were so talented and speedy that I was lucky enough to be able to do not just one, but two projects with them during my elementrary placement. The first project that I did was, I feel, the most successful project that I did during my elementary placement. I say this because 98% of the results were astounding...they followed all directions, tried their best, applied the concepts, and their projects turned out beautiful. It is a thrill when I get to put every child's assignment up in the hallway and have all of the staff and students give compliments on the work. The kids were very proud of themselves. One student's project even won Best in Show at the Warren Consolidated Art Show last week :)

So ANYWAY, here it is!


When I was creating this assignment, I had in mind two concepts for the kids to learn...contrast, and warm & cool colors (or is that 3 concepts? hmmm...). So what I did to begin with was introduce them to an artist that many of them had never heard of before. I made a large copy of Gustav Klimt's Beech Tree Forest I

and I laminated it and began the lesson by holding this image, walking around the class, and letting each student get a chance to study this up close. I prefaced it by telling them, "I'm not going to tell you what this image is, or who did it, I just want everyone to look and pick out some things that you see, keep them in mind, and we'll all talk about it after everyone gets a chance to see this."

I LOVED looking at their faces as they looked at this up close. Some were excited by all of the colors and details they saw, others were confused, others were pointing at things and whispering to their friends next to's the little things that make me excited to be a teacher.

After I went around the class, I asked everyone to raise their hand and tell me something that they saw. Some said tree trunks, some said dots, some said fall, some said forest, some said yellow, orange, blue, green, etc. Then I taped this up and I made a chart on the board. One column said "Warm Colors" and one said "Cool Colors." Then I had the kids raise their hand and tell me which column each color went into. By the time we were done, we had orange, red and yellow on one side, and then blue, green and purple on the other. I talked about how these colors are used, and then as a class we picked out where each color was in Klimt's painting. It wasn't until we all did this as a class that many students realized that ALL of those colors were somewhere in the painting.

Then I did a demo on their assignment. I showed them an example of their final project that I had already created, and each third grade class I showed this too would say, "WOWWWW, THAT'S GOOD! I CAN'T DO THAT THOUGH!!" And I would say "ohhhh, yes you can because you are all great artists."

I showed them that all I did to create the tree trunks was to take a strip of poster board and a little black tempera paint on a paper plate, dip the edge of the poster board in the paint, and scrape the paint across the paper. The poster board would create the edge of the trunk, and the scraping motion would give them a bark-like texture. Leave a space, do the same technique moving the opposite direction, and you have a tree trunk! I felt like David Copperfield because it was like I did some crazy magic, but I told them, "see how easy it is? Now you know you can all do this too!" So then they scurried to get their little paint shirts on and I handed out supplies and they went nuts (and did a great job). I even taught them a little bit about perspective, and how each trunk can start at a different point on the ground and as you move them up, it looks like they are going further back in the forest, just like in Gustav Klimt's painting. For third grade, I thought most of them followed this concept well!

I taught the contrast aspect to them, explaining that the trees were going to be left in only black and white. They would stand out more when we add all of the beautiful colors to the rest of the picture. To finish the scenery with warm and cool colors, I told them they would pick either warm or cool colors to do the sky with watercolors, and whatever they picked for the sky, they would do the opposite for the ground with crayons and texture rubbing plates. So if they did blue, green and purple for the sky, they would use yellow, orange and red on the ground. They used at least 2 different texture rubbing plates each for the ground to create a cool design, and I showed them how to do a wet-on-wet watercolor technique to make a gradient look for the sky. Again, magic haha.

I think every student's self confidence got a boost with this assignment. Like I mentioned earlier, I threw A LOT at them, and they took to it like champs and their results were nothing short of amazing. Here are some examples...

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