Friday, October 30, 2015

The Creative and Fabulous Homemade Costumes of EES!

As I have said before, there is no holiday I love like Halloween.
Let's get those art skills people possess into action!
Because everyone heads to work covered in LEDs and acrylic paint, no?
No other date on the calendar so embraces eccentricity, creative thought, and crafting skills.  It was delightful to attend my first Halloween parade today here at Edmunds, and it was so exciting to see the variety of homemade costumes!

 There were lots, and students provided varying levels of input and assistance in the crafting process, from painting and stapling to cutting and sewing. Every costume here was homemade!

This peacock!
A classic ghost
An owl- she cut all of the feather herself!
Another peacock!
 The teachers got into it too!
Gumball machine
Dr. Mathias as Professor McGonagall
The book character Olivia!
A cow!
The solar system!
  Aren't they all outstanding?

The costume that made me laugh out loud was this one- Dark Helmet from Space Balls!  I wondered if any of his peers knew who he was- my brother dressed up as the same character once, but almost thirty years ago!  Love it.

Well done, all! Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Kindergarten Carpet Choices- Impromptu Marching Band! EES

When Kindergarten artists are done with class projects in the art room, they often have some extra time to explore materials.
Artist explains how he explored different types of line in warm and cool colors.
During this time, students make a carpet choice.  I have some of the same materials students of mine have used and loved for years, such as pattern blocks,

Cooperative building project
and mini whiteboards,

Look at those mountains!
but this year I also have wooden blocks!  It's really exciting to me, because I have long loved how students can build and experiment with physics using blocks. But the creativity of Kindergarteners never ceases to amaze me, because today most of the block builders suddenly began an impromptu marching band around the classroom.

The video below shows our carpet choice time today in action. Listen to them keep a beat!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Fire Safety Calendar- EES

Every year the Vermont Division of Fire Safety sponsors a contest open to third graders across the state. It's the 25th anniversary this year of the student-illustrated State Fire Prevention Calendar! While I am not a huge fan of art contests, this particular one does get students to think about something that I love, which is how to use art as a visual communication tool.

Just about any graphic designer will tell you that big, bold, high-contrast images gets a viewers eye. A great image alone can say it all, but couple a super picture with brief, memorable text, and you've really got a hold on a person's memory. 

While I did not tell students that they had to enter the contest, we did use the theme of fire safety as the focus of this art lesson. Students did an amazing job brainstorming a variety of scenarios and sayings that could be highlighted.

Being Vermonters, it was unsurprising that forest fires/outdoor burning got the most attention from students.

Some of the students have had personal experience with fire damaging parts of their home, and their somber tales created more buy-in from their classes that I could possibly have generated.

While I did not require that kids enter the contest, many of them decided to do so, and very few declined.  Lots of kids even took their work home to have more time to perfect it. When I went to the post office to send the package of entries, the stack weighed well over a pound.

Most of the kids took the task with a seriousness that I have rarely ever seen, while some took the opportunity to be. well, silly cartoonists. That said, they did still accomplish the task of communicating a message effectively.

Ridiculous, yes, of course. But you'll remember it!
Many of the third graders are motivated by the possibility of going to Montpelier or winning a prize, but really the biggest prize, I think, is that the winners will be published artists!  As third graders. That's pretty cool to imagine!

Good luck everyone!

Monday, October 19, 2015

How I get to school! EES

Kindergarten artists are pretty much unsurpassed for their ability to illustrate surrealistic takes on the world, vivid experiences, and visual surprises.  Pardon my sense of humor while I celebrate the hilarity that is the art of this age group.

I asked Kindergarten artists to show me how they get to school each day.  They could also show me what they saw on their way.  Using accurate colors and drawing details was emphasized.

"I walk."
Without clothes?!  Isn't it getting a mite cold?

"I drive to school."
 That family has a lot of trust that their five-year old will not hit the neighbor's chickens on her way.

"I scoot to school."
With no hands on the handlebars?!  These kids are such stunt devils!

"I come in a car."
Me: Tell me about these green shapes.
Artist: Those are the mountains we drive over to get to school!
Well, it is the hill section of town.

"I come in a car."
In all seriousness, I love how they have been responding to art prompts with such originality, energy, and enthusiasm.
"I drive in a car."
The level of detail is astonishing. Look at all of those trees and hills the artist sees when he is coming to school each day.  Love that sun just coming up.

"I walk to school."
These artists are so happy it's a bit contagious. How could you not love such a smiley face flying towards his school building?

 Kinders did an amazing job of showing their experiences not as they really are of course, but as they experience that travel.

Hence, the pi├Ęce de r├ęsistance: 

"I ride the bus."
Yup, you sure do kiddo. 
And that is exactly what it feels like.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Building Community (Gardens)- EES

     Throughout the year I work to help students grow and maintain a positive and safe classroom, physically and emotionally, in the art room. We have been talking a lot about our emotional responses to challenges, and how to think flexibly in grade two.

    In that theme of growth, and to focus on building our community, Second Graders are making "community garden" collages.  The students make the painted papers that they will all share to "grow" their gardens, borrowing what they need and leaving some for others.

 Students have just begun a few new processes in art that can be very emotional for students.  First, they are thinking about how to self-assess based on a rubric of expectations for their art work.  These expectations are focused primarily on Effort, Craftsmanship, and staying On Topic. Students are learning what those expectations look like at grade two, and how to assess honestly where their own work is.

Next, students are learning to ask others in the classroom for feedback about their artwork. Constructive criticism can certainly be hard to receive, but it can also be hard to give.  They are just beginning to ask other classmates "What can I add, change, or improve about my project?" and learning how to answer that question when asked.

Not only are students asked to elicit feedback from two peers, but they are asked to actually implement at least one of the suggestions, which is why it is so critical that they learn how to offer positive, constructive ideas that will promote more growth for the artist.

It can be hard to get students to talk with each other when they want to get right to work, so when they arrive to their tables, they find only their artwork, no supplies.  This is frustrating to some that want to skip the community conversations (I have kids do this in small groups of 3-5 per table), but I promise that it is worth it.  These young artists come away with many great ideas and see their own work through fresh eyes.

Building our classroom environment begins with shared tangible materials- passing the scissors, sharing the painted papers- but grows into sharing the intangibles.  Sharing our thinking with one another, sharing our challenges, and sharing our positive, supportive thoughts.