Friday, March 18, 2016

Shapes Are Poppin'! EES

  In Second grade, the artists are poppin'! Lately we have been talking about some big, fancy sounding art words like "contrast" and "contemporary." We looked at the incredible, contemporary (current) artwork of the pop artist Burton Morris.
Penny A Pop, Burton Morris, Serigraph Print
Students learned how pop artists take easily recognizable, everyday objects, such as cans of soup, packages of candy, or common office supplies, and make those common objects the subject of an artwork. 
Coffee Cup 1998, Burton Morris, serigraph print
This practice "elevates" those objects into something extraordinary, like this cup of coffee. The bold, graphic shapes, strong contrast in colors, and sense of movement in the composition make this no ordinary cuppa joe. 

I had seen this lesson online which inspired what I did with students, which belongs to an art teacher who used Burton Morris' work as a jumping off point for a Valentine's Day project. The results are lovely, and it is an excellent lesson in process for sure, which I used in very much the same way with my students. I avoid "holiday-themed" lessons, but it seemed like a great start to a potential geometry connection.

Ta da!  These second graders have some talent.
Second grade artists chose a common two-dimensional math shape, and by adding effects such as outlines, movement lines, and shine, made the ordinary extraordinary!

Did you know that hexagons could look so cool?
Classes brainstormed lists of math shapes on the board, and selected one that they felt was both commonplace and held great potential to be awesome.

It is making for one seriously eye-catching display to see all of these shapes zooming, falling, and bouncing around the page.

Rhombuses blasting off
Students felt that some of these projects are viewable from different angles, and were rotating their pages to find that a shape that looked like it was rising now looked like it was falling, a discovery about which artists were pretty excited.

Trying this lesson in your own classroom? Awesome. This project also works in tons and tons of scissor practice, and can be easily modified for students who would benefit from tracing shapes or using adaptive scissors. Tracers or stencils can also be used in reverse to help students outline the shapes with marker.

The basics are the same as in the lesson I linked: begin with the colored background, altering the edge and cutting out V's. Mount on black paper and alter the straight lines to echo the edge of the colored paper, leaving a border. Cut out one large shape (some kids may want rulers), and 2-5 small ones. Outline shapes in marker, and add the white paper "shiny spots" and movement lines. It took most kids three 45-minute class periods. One more tip: I used colored copy paper instead of construction paper. The colors are clean and bold, and it cuts with a nice clean edge.

Come see the display in the 2nd floor hallway to see how our artists have created their own pop art!



  1. Johanna, your work is awesome. Great ideas and amazing blog.

    1. Thanks Kim! I'd love to hear what your students are working on lately.