Thursday, March 24, 2011

the thrid trimester slump

Time to start the 3rd trimester and for a variety of reasons I'm feeling a bit lack luster. I'm back to seeing kinders only once a week for 30 min and will now see each 1st grade class a second time each week for 5 weeks at a time. I only teach 10 weeks this trimester and one of those weeks has to focus on some type of Mother's Day lesson (like it or not). Despite my begging and searching for supplies we still are pretty low on materials and I need to find lessons that don't require anything more than copy paper, the secondary colors of tempera paint, crayon and what's left of our oil pastels and watercolor paints and some cheap cheap construction paper. We will really embracing recycled art come earth day! When looking back on my lesson plans I've noticed the only time we really focus on artist studies is during spring trimester. We already got a jump start last trimester though we were looking for numbers letters and shapes in art not looking at specific artists per say.

Sometimes the kids surprise me and it turns out that my kids really like seeing "famous" works of art and then doing something along the same theme. I think it gives them a clear idea of what they are trying to do and makes them feel a bit fancy. They really like it when I can tell them how much a work of art is "worth". Money talks when you are on welfare. I want to run with any success we have so we will focus on artist study till the end of the school year.
So far we have looked at:
Paul Klee
Jasper John's numbers and letters
Mondrian and Kandinsky circles.

I like this approach of looking at a work of art because almost all the grade levels can work off the same artwork and scan for different elements and principals depending on grade level.

But if all the kids study the same artist at the same time what will they do next year when spring rolls around?! You know that is the great thing about art, their are so many different artists that I feel pretty confident that I can find 5 different artists to study each spring.

Teaching 9 grade levels a week I find if I am trying to teach too many different artists or lessons each week that I get confused and don't teach the material as well as I hope. Working on the same basic lesson across grade levels allows me to work out the kinks and help the majority of kids get a end product they like. If I'm teaching a lesson to only one grade level it usually takes a few years to work out the kinks. Working across grade level also lets me try the same basic concept in a variety of media and materials. So even if the inspration is the same and even the basic lesson plan the same I'm finding the end results to be district to each grade.

We also get some pretty cool displays when I can put up a kinder's interpretation of a artwork next to a 5th graders. I have noticed the kinder parents (I'm in the kinder hall) have been really looking at, and reading, the artist info I put up with each display. I feel safe guessing that this is the first time many of the parents are seeing these works of art. I hope by not just educating the kids, but also the parents I can take their idea of "art" beyond stick figures and smiley face suns.

I hope we can make some art based on:
Matisse goldfish fish
Picasso, guitars, faces and monochromatics
Cezanne fruit still lifes
Monet studies...waterliles, bridges, trees and such
Van gogh ....bedrooms, stary night, sunflowers
Kandinsky lines and organic, geometric shapes in black glue then painted with watercolor
Okeefe large flowers, insects or other everyday objects like keys and...

If the little kids need to fill time we have lots of small small scraps of scratch foam that would work for super simple printmaking.


  1. I hope you will go to Donors Choose and try to get some cash there. I can hardly think of anyone who needs it more. jan

  2. I hear you! I am starting the post Youth Art Month burnout/slump myself.

  3. What about looking at Wayne Theibault for his cakes and ice cream cones art? Kinders and 1st graders LOVE them! Also, maybe a Klimt collage using magazine pictures or Romare Bearden? You could ask for people to bring in magazines and rip out the pictures with people in them for ease of cutting and pasting. If I ask, I get LOTS~
    Also, what about painting on newspaper... a colleague of mine did cityscapes on them with markers and tempera paints. The text shows through and it looks so cool! They could also use up your scraps that way. Eric Carle is another fav with collage... painted papers or scraps work great to cut bugs from.

  4. If you are doing Matisse goldfish bowls, stop in at Lowe's or redecorating stores and ask for old wallpaper books. They are great for collage.

    Or gather shoebox lids and random junk and make Louise Nevelson style relief sculptures. My students paint them in the color of their choice, but in a pinch, check out Lowe's or Walmarts etc paint department and for a buck or two you can pick up a gallon of the paint somebody mixed but nobody wanted, and paint them all the same color.

    Like you, I use artists across grade levels and don't repeat artists for about 3 years. I keep track of it on a little sheet in my plan book, so that I can check back next year to see who did what.

  5. I really like your advice (and Phyl's too!) on teaching one artist/topic across grade levels. It makes sense, I only teach TWO grade levels and I'm already confused!!
    This year I made a list of household items and stuck it into the teachers' mailboxes:) I'm still getting egg cartons and shoeboxes!
    I think I may snag Phyl's idea of using shoe box lids for Nevelson, thanks! And hang in there, there's a light at the end of the tunnel and its name is JUNE:)

  6. Have you thought of using the Artsonia site to raise money for your art room? I get a least a few hundred dollars a year from it. It's tedious uploading all of the children's work, but I think it's so worth it in the end!

  7. I have usually taught certain artist and style at particular grade level to coordinate with the grade level curriculum, particularly social studies. This year I teach 1st and 2nd in the same time slot on different days. I usually teach Van Gogh's sunflowers to 2nd, I taught to 1st by mistake, this year I simply adjusted and moved on only I knew and the project turned out great!