Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Lost in Space

3,2,1, Blast Off!

Explorers in first grade are making art this is pretty (ahem) out-of-this-world! 

In connection with the science unit they are doing in their homeroom on cycles and phases of the moon, these students are using visual art to express additional knowledge that they have learned about space. 

Visual art provides learners a chance to show understanding in a different format than, say, a science notebook or moon-observation journal. In this lesson, students began by using white paint and a toothbrush to create a galaxy of tiny stars on dark paper. That same day, students began to create planets, using white paper and chalk pastels. Many students drew from what they remembered about the light units in art and science classes and attempted to make their planets look very spherical with different shades of pastel.

The great thing about beginning the planets on separate paper is that if there is a perceived mistake, smudging outside of their circle, or a planet that the artist doesn't like, it can simply not be cut out and added to the background. Planets which the students were pleased with were cut out and glued on once the backgrounds were dry.

Because this lesson is intended to give students another place to express their learning about space, we talked about what phenomena and objects are objectively observable and true about space. While you might wonder if they were disappointed not to put a face on their sun or an alien on the moon, they were not, as they were excited to be asked to "show what you know" about our galaxy.

Artists included additional objects of their choosing in their images, including things such as the moon (in different phases), constellations, satellites, meteors, rockets, the sun, and more.

Some artists went above and beyond integrating what they remembered from the light unit, making sure that the bright sides of their objects, such as planets, faced the sun, to create a more realistic model of how light would act on those objects.

Many students used strategic cropping of their objects to suggest that the vastness of space is endless, and let their shapes run off the edge, like the moon in the work below.

This lesson offers so many opportunities to practice skills first graders are building, especially cutting curves, making complex shapes (like stars), tracing an object (circular things like yogurt containers were traced for planets), and blending/mixing colors.

"The sky is the ultimate art gallery just above us."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

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