Saturday, June 20, 2015

Kindergarten Color Mixing and Life Cycle Observation! RES

There are a few more RES projects I want to make sure to share.  
These color-mixing masterpieces are one of those.

Kindergarteners have been working all year to learn how to mix colors from just the primaries.  It's a skill that I support by trying as often as possible to give only those colors to students. In this project they had access to the primary colors plus white.
Look at that sweet little table upon which the artist perched the vase, and that little window!

There was a lot going on in this deceptively simple still-life. We looked Van Gogh's paintings of sunflowers, and at a basket of sunflowers in the classroom as well to identify basic parts of the plant.  We also talk about the roles of the different plant parts- the leaves gather sun, the stem acts like a straw, etc.  We refer to the plant parts as we paint to identify the colors we see and talk about how to mix them.

This project began with tracing. Yup, tracing. I discovered a couple of years ago that an astonishing number of my older students in grade two actually couldn't  trace a shape, and it alarmed me that as much as we devalue tracing as a culture, it is an important skill.  Essentially, using the edge of a ruler is tracing.  If you are only near the edge of it, and not tracing  it, the line will not come out straight, thus defeating the point of the ruler itself.  So, I created a couple of projects that integrate tracing as a skill, and begin teaching it in Kindergarten.

What they have traced here is the vase shape.  I made several different shapes and sizes of vases, and the students begin by selecting and trying to trace all the way around the shape, rotating their paper halfway and keeping their pencil on the edge of the shape.

Students add flowers, beginning with the seed centers, which students noticed were circles. Depending on where the flower was in its life cycle, some of the flowers were upright, arching, or altogether droopy.  When students added stems, petals, and leaves, we discussed ways to use those plant parts to give more information about each flower's point in its life cycle.  We also branched out from sunflowers, experimenting with the shapes of the petals.

Our last step in pencil was to add a surface on which the vase was sitting.  We observed the sunflower basket in the room and talked at length about how to make the vase appear to be fully sitting on a surface. We noticed that when an object sits on a surface, that you cannot see the full back edge of the surface, because the object is visually overlapping it.  So, we tried to make our vases overlap the tables upon which they sat.

When we got to color mixing, we identified colors and plant parts we observed. Students used the color wheel to mix green first for their stems and leaves, then, using leftover green, added red to make brown for the seed centers. 

The petals were painted the artist's choice of colors, as were the background, vase, and table.  Some students added patterns of dots or stripes to the vases and tables as well.

The focus was on allowing students to experiment with their color mixing for those elements. We varied the size of brush we used as well for the different parts of the painting.

The last step was outlining the elements with black marker to help the colors and shapes stand out and "pop" visually. Whew!  These hardworking artists ended up with incredibly beautiful and well-earned results. 

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