Sunday, November 7, 2010

20 min art class...

It is that time of week again. To put my lessons for the week down on paper...or keyboard so to speak and to wrestle once again with the fact that art class only lasts 20min. If you haven't read the post about this year's schedule, that's right, 20 min long. The 5th - 2nd graders are coming to art twice a week for 20 min and by cutting the amount of projects I hope to do with them in half and really finding projects that can be broken up into smaller parts we are slowly making it work.

Kinder and 1st are proving harder to work out. They only come to art 1 time a week for 20 min. Three classes back to back each time. 25-32 kids per class. Needless to say we are not as productive as in past years. So far we have stuck to one session projects. Reviews of line and shape. Working on our drawing skills, cutting and collaging. Practicing holding a paintbrush, painting without getting more paint on ourselves than our paper. We haven't really produced much of anything that I'm excited to hang in the halls.

1st grade is ready to do their first multi week project. During their last class I had them draw and paint nice big pumpkins for a harvest collage. This week they will use some pre-painted paper to make a crook neck squash and glue that, the pumpkin and some dollar tree leaves to a big sheet of paper. Basically we are working on the same project that Holly did (thanks for the idea!) Instead of the woven basket with apples (too hard for my 1st graders) we are going to make dot corn and add tamale making corn husks. So imagine these two images combined:
+ ish
At the rate at which I see the 1st graders we will be done just in time for thanksgiving break. No turkeys for us this year.

Over in kinderland we are still dragging our feet. I think they are cute, even if one pooped on my chair last week, but they are so young. At least half of the kids can not get a recognizable name on paper yet...and are still struggling to recognize their name when it is written. I'm trying to find a way to upload the kinder class lists and print their names onto labels so that A: I can return the art to the right kid and B: we can work on a ongoing project.

To add to the struggle of a only 20 min long class, each class of kinders comes directly from P.E. to art. I'm the one who picks them up and herds them down the hall, crushing their hopes for a drink because, "We don't have time!" Most of the kids are so riled up/worn out from PE that it takes about five to ten min to calm them down. I have found the best way to use this time is get them right onto the floor and read our "inspiration" book and then demo at the "circle time" easel. I would get more time for the projects by skipping the book, but they are less focused on the task at hand if I don't give them a down time. This week my sub read them Bear in a Square and they reviewed drawing shapes

Week after week they beg to paint. And we have done a little bit of painting. I like to put out the glue in cups with paintbrushes to have them paste down their collage shapes. It helps them spread the glue, keeps thing cleaner, and gives them a chance to, "paint." When we did our collage pumpkins I broke out the green paint so they could add grass and a stem. This week are going to read, Art, and then just like Art likes to paint we will paint with water and bleeding tissue paper. The kinder teachers are studying leaves with the kids this week and have given me cut-out leaves to put on top of the kids tissue paper paintings. The kids are always AMAZED at the magic paint paper.
we have done both versions before

Then we will spend some quality time with our holiday oriented, yet non offensive, friend Mr. Turkey!!!
We will learn about concentric circles and do more practice drawing, cutting and collage-ing circles to make these fun turkeys

and then its time for our big painting lesson...Mr. painted turkey!!!
the kids start by coloring in the body, then each table gets one plate of paint, with one color, with one brush per kid. Each table has a different color and I rotate the paper plates every 3-4 min. This keeps things remarkably clean.
After Mr. Turkey is set in the hall to dry we USED to glue a strip of green paper to blue paper and put on a name label. Later I make my 6th-8th graders cut out the turkeys, glue them onto the matching paper and add the google eyes and beak. Yes I believe in child labor. I use it often. I could never teach K-8 with no in-school prep time without making my older kids help me prep. I call it school service. With our time limits I think my middle school laborers will have to do the pasting of the green strip and the name label part also. Let's call it a collaborative effort.

Too much turkey...perhaps, but the only grade I indulge in the turkey projects with so we will say its ok.


  1. Oh, your dedication is amazing. You work so hard. Your students are blessed to have you.

  2. I just stumbled on your blog and was reading this post and unfortunately was nodding my head in agreement because I'm facing the exact same issues with not enough time and so many kids in the class. We tried drawing lines and it was a disaster so I'm steal some of your ideas. On a side note I had a 2nd grader poop in my class the first week of school. Talk about scaring the sh*t out of your kids right out of the gate! lol

  3. Hi there,
    I found your blog through Deep Space Sparkle and I'm looking for some general tips to teach kindergarteners to make watercolors of leaves. I am planning to start by having them draw their leaves with pencil, then fill in with watercolor pencil. This will all happen outdoors as part of their outdoor field studies at a nearby garden. It's also for them to begin to understand why artists often draw in plein air, and that observing from nature is what botanists do. I am using art to teach science. I love your idea of making a second drawing of Zooming into one part of a leaf or flower.

    What materials did you use to make the artwork above of two leaves? Tissue paper?
    Also, when drawing with kinders, do you recommend having them outline their pencil sketches with black waterproof pens before applying watercolor pencil?
    using pen before watercolor is what I learned to do, but It may be too complicated for them. I am planning to have them apply water when they return to their classroom.
    Your blog is awesome, thank yOu!

  4. Hi Victoria,
    With kinders stay simple! Many of them may have never painted before so I like to use bleeding tissue paper instead of paint for the first few "painting" projects...that way they can really just focus on getting their brush into the water and spreading the water on the paper. I always have my students (all the way through 8th grade) draw with pencil first, then outline with sharpie then apply any watercolor. Go into any craft store and find the BLEEDING tissue paper. Cut it into squares on the paper cutter and pass out a tray with a variety of colors to each table. Bleeding tissue works best if allowed to dry on the paper. Tell the kinders just like the leaves on a tree will fall off when dry and ready so will the tissue paper. They will get to pick off the tissue the NEXT class.

  5. I currently teach Elementary (K-4 once per week for 40 mins) and Jr/High School (7-12 every day for 46 mins). Next year my Elementary schedule (K-6) will change to every other day for 25 minutes. I am having a hard time trying to visualize how I will run a 25 minute schedule with these kids and I was happy to see that there are people who are getting through it with less time. Do you have any pointers, hints, things we could learn from you that will help those of us who will soon be entering into the (no time for anything) schedule.

  6. Hi Alyssa, of those were rough days I think really focusing on doing the intro of the lesson one day, getting names on paper and one or two steps done and then doing the bulk of the creating on the next day will be helpful. Several things that really helped me where no longer allowing hand washing, each kid got a $1 tree wippie on the way out and there was a trashcan at the door where they threw them away. I discovered that for the younger grades we could often use q-tips instead of paint brushes allowing us to skip brush clean up. If we did need brushes then they went into a juice pitcher filled with water. We never used bottle glue, only a glue sponge, often used bleeding tissue paper instead of watercolor paint. I planed my lessons for the week based on materials first and foremost. All grade levels I saw for a day needed to be using the same materials so I did not have to worry about trading out supplies. Tempera paint went on paper plates or magazine pages and was disposed of when done. I felt really bad about the trash we produced each day but found it impossible to switch out classes fast enough otherwise. Last but not least you will need to be firm that classes do not enter before their time nor do they stay past their time. At times this meant I had one class lined up against the wall of my room waiting for their late teacher to show up while I had already brought the next class in. I also utilized students from the upper grades whenever possible. Not sure if you are in a k-12 setting but if so I would look into having some students be dedicated teachers aids