A while back I had stumbled upon the website of a teacher who did a "soup drive" along with her Pop Art project. I thought this was such a cool way to get students involved with art history and their community! I took this teacher's (I have no idea who she is) idea and ran with it. I created what is now called, "The Warhol Project". For the last month, students have been bringing in cans of food where we will be donating them to Channel One Food Bank in Rochester, MN. Our goal is 400 cans by the end of May. We already have 238!
We are collecting our cans in two large barrels that Channel One kindly gave us. It's not a bad idea to put a sign on them that states they are not garbage (I encountered I few issues there...)
Last semester we made pop bottles (Pop Art...get it?) on the benday dots handout. We used markers and colored pencils for that project. This semester, I plan on having students draw soup cans in their table groups and use the benday dots handout I used last semester. I think I will teach students how to use watercolor pencils instead of using regular colored pencils and markers. I think it would be interesting for students to use complementary colors in this project as well.
I just love how the students (and parents!) have shown so much enthusiasm and generosity by donating to our soup drive! Stay tuned for the next part of The Warhol Project: Drawing our soup cans!
I was looking for a way to teach my 6th grade art students how to mix colors and create their own color wheel without using the old-fashioned (and somewhat boring) color wheel model. Unfortunately, my web search turned up few results. That's when I came up with the idea for a moveable and interactive color wheel that students could construct themselves.
This is a great project for those kinesthetic learners who like to keep their hands busy! I created my own handout that could be printed off on regular or card stock paper. The handout includes all 12 colors on the color wheel (Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary). The project involves students coloring in each color card using colored pencils, crayons, paint, etc. Then students cut out the cards, hole punch in the designated circle, and secure them together using a brass brad or string. The final product is a color wheel that folds out like a fan and can be arranged into the traditional color wheel layout. Each card is labeled with it's color category and color name. This is a great tool for students when using color in their following projects. I've found it very handy for when students are struggling to choose a color scheme. It was also a great project for Special Ed learners to work on cutting/hole punching skills while also learning to mix the different colors. The lesson only takes two 50-minute class periods and students really enjoy "playing" with their color wheels.
I've included the interactive color wheel handout (print as much as you want!), lesson plans, rubric, and example photos for sale. Check it out in my TeachersPayTeachers online store.
As an artist, I love art. Art class was the one class I looked forward to everyday. However, I've had some students who say they don't like art because they think they don't have the talent. Each lesson I like to talk about the real-world skills students can learn from art. We recently started a comic strip project. Students learned that a lot of art is used to tell stories. From advertisements to animated movies, images can often speak louder than words. I think it's important for students to understand that what they are learning is like an iceberg. The tip of the iceberg is the project itself, but what matters even more are the skills and knowledge students acquire beneath the surface.
This semester I wanted to do something different for conferences. I wanted to stress the importance of art education to parents. I came up with the idea to create magnets with art-inspired sayings to give away as freebies to parents and students who stopped by. HOLY COW! They were a hit. I had some parents asking if they could take more than one. I hinted that these magnets would work really well holding student artworks on the fridge and this got a lot of enthusiasm.
MAKING THE MAGNETS
These magnets were extremely inexpensive and quick to make. I bought the large glass stones from the dollar tree. You get approx. 35 of the stones for a $1. I only bought one bag, but I probably should have bought two since I ran out. I used scrapbook paper and printed sayings such as:
I cut the paper to fit the flat side of the stone and used a glue stick to adhere the paper. Then I bought a cheap roll of magnetic tape for $3 and cut those into small squares to glue to the back. Each magnet took only a minute or two to make and they looked so fun sitting out together!
Well the American Indian art unit is complete! We made birchbark boxes from cardstock paper with printed birchbark textures. I had students use beads, feathers, and leather scraps to decorate their boxes. Some students got a bit over-excited with the decorations, but some boxes turned out so cool!
We did a compare/contrast between the artist Bobby Wilson and traditional Ojibwe art. We also did a graffiti write on what they knew already about Ojibwe art.
In total, the unit took about 5 (50 min.) class periods in total for most students to finish. Some students really struggled with assembling their boxes, but most seemed to get it.
One thing I added to this lesson was a tooled metal lid. I had students do some beginner metal tooling in heavy duty aluminum foil. Students were asked to tool with a blunt pencil at least three Ojibwe symbols into their aluminum foil. We cut and glued the foil to the paper lid. We also talked about the differences between traditional and contemporary Native American art. This led to a great discussion on how stereotypes can hurt people and what kind of stereotypes we all experience on a daily basis. It was pretty powerful, and overall, a fun project!
I used disposable black tablecloths on the tables and reused old wire/thread spools as pedestals for the 3-D work. The image above shows how I hung up the larger artworks using scrap mat boards and clothespins. Students were asked to fill out an "Art Sandwich" about the artwork created by the student to their left. We talked about writing respectful comments and using professional language. Since this was our last day, I brought snacks and pop for the kids to munch on while they looked at each other's work. Overall, I think it was a great success and such a great opportunity for students to experience an "art show". We had a few minutes of spare time, so I showed them this "Latte Art" video. Kids had a lot of fun trying to figure out how it's done.
When I first started teaching last year, I hunted the web in earnest looking for "first year teacher tips". I found some pretty depressing stuff. I remember seeing things like, "You will never have a life. Get ready to spend every waking moment worrying". Needless to say, I was a bit petrified with fear my first day of teaching. But in the last four months, I have survived and I definitely feel like I still have a life. However, I did find some tips that made being a brand new teacher easier to bear. My top 10 tips for new or first-year art teachers:
1) Caffeine. A cup of coffee after lunch is the perfect pick-me-up for afternoon classes. If you don't like coffee, pop or tea works well too.
2) Student help. Hanging artwork up around the school is great, but takes A LOT of time. I have several students who finish early on projects and volunteer to hang things up around the school. It's also great to have students go through supplies and help organize the last few minutes of class.
3) Snacks & Gum. Have some granola bars and Mentos on hand. I don't know how many times I got all the way to school and realized I forgot to eat breakfast. Having a snack in your desk drawer can keep you tided over until lunch time. Keep a stash of gum for when your breath starts going south.
4) PlanbookEdu.com. This website is basically a daily plan book, but entirely online. It is free to use and you can organize all your lesson plans by classes. I like the fact I can insert websites/URLs into the plan for easy access. You can even "bump" your schedule ahead if you have a snow day or unexpected day off.
5) Footwear. While those 4-inch black heels look fabulous on you, you'll probably be cursing them an hour into teaching class. Choose footwear that feels good and have more than one pair. If you wear the same pair everyday, your feet can still get achy. Switch up some ballet flats with some dressy tennis shoes. My favorite footwear is a pair of leather cowgirl boots I found at a thrift store.
6) Organization. Use folders or a binder to organize lesson plans, assessments, PGP stuff, etc. Use sticky labels on classroom drawers to organize art supplies. Keep each lesson and the handouts/resources needed together in separate boxes or folders. This makes packing up at the end of the year so much easier.
7) "Me Time". As soon as you come home from work, do something for yourself for at least 30 minutes. Take a bath, paint your nails, have a glass of wine, read a book, watch Downton Abbey, WHATEVER you enjoy. Whatever you choose, make sure it relaxes you and takes your mind off of teaching.
8) Go away. Go to a conference if you are able to. Visit an art museum on the weekend (and take a camera with you). Getting away not only leaves you feeling refreshed, it can give you ideas and resources for teaching new lessons.
9) Connect. I consider myself a bit of a loner when it comes to my personality. I like being independent and my own boss. However, connecting with other teachers and parents can mean a world of a difference. Having one person you can go to when you have any questions is extremely helpful, whether it's a receptionist, veteran teacher, or if you're lucky like me, another art teacher. Connect with parents by sending a monthly newsletter. It doesn't have to be anything fancy, just a quick note about what you're doing in the classroom and what is coming up.
10) Stay positive. Build positive relationships with students. We've all heard it, but I mean it. Some of my best students are the ones struggling in every other class. If you can be the one person that a student looks forward to seeing, your job is already half-done. Talk about what they like to do. Talk about yourself and what you did over the weekend. I like to tell my students about what I was like in middle school. Stay positive. Smile, even if you have a pounding headache. Kids can quickly sense if you're in a bad mood, and they will try to take advantage of it. Act positive and everything will be just fine.
The end of this semester has proved to be quite busy. We are currently working on our birchbark boxes and will hopefully be finished by the end of this week. I will be moving schools for the second semester and that means an entirely new group of students. It also means that I am working on planning the curriculum for this second semester.
As an artist who likes to work in a variety of mediums, I am definitely one who likes to try new things and experiment with different lesson plans. A few of the projects we did last semester (pop bottle drawings and zentangle pyramids) will be repeated but I will be teaching many new projects this second semester. One project I have been dying to have students try is a large-scale collaborative grid drawing. I think I will be doing this project instead of the Chihuly sculptures with this group of students.
I took inspiration for the grid drawing lesson from Chuck Close's gridded portraits. This lesson is still in the works, but I think it will be a great lesson on drawing what we SEE, rather than what we think we see. This is something I know a lot of 6th grade students struggle with and breaking it down into 5"x5" square chunks should ease frustration. The 7th & 8th graders do their own personal grid drawings and this should be a nice precursor for building up background knowledge of grid drawing.
I chose six artists and their portraits for this lesson. I copied and pasted their images into a word document and overlayed a 7"x9" grid over each image. I applied the artistic filter "pencil sketch" over each image to show contour lines more effectively.
The hardest part was narrowing my choices down to six artists. These may not have been your own choices, but my criteria for selecting artists was based on the lessons I will be teaching throughout the semester and I wanted to represent different cultures and show a balance of both men and women artists.
I plan on printing each gridded artist image twice. I will use my paper cutter to cut out each small 1"x1" square from the image. I will then label the back of each square with a number so we can keep track of which image goes where. Then I will give students a handout for the project with a 5"x5" square box to draw in. Each student gets a small 1"x1" square and will be asked to transfer the 1" box into the 5" box on the handout. I plan on showing students examples of what we are doing, but not what our final image will be. I like a little mystery! :) Once students have their drawing in pencil finished, I'll have them color with markers or colored pencils. I will be testing this project out myself to see how it works before teaching it. The worst case scenario is that it doesn't turn out to look like a portrait.
Each final work will be a combination of two art classes (approx. 30 students in each class). The final work will be 35"x45" in size with a total of 63 5"x5" squares in each work.
Time required: 2 (50 min.) class periods
You can see the document I created with the six artist images below. I will keep you posted about how this project works out!
I have struggled and struggled to find a great lesson to meet the MN visual art standard:
1. Compare and contrast the connections among
visual artworks, their purposes, and their
personal, social, cultural and historical contexts,
including the contributions of Minnesota
American Indian tribes and communities.
I think I've probably spent an entire week trying to figure out a lesson that wouldn't cost too much or wouldn't take a month to finish. I stumbled on a great instructable on how to construct a round box. I thought this would be a great activity for students to do out of birch bark and tie in with Ojibwe art and culture. Only downside, with 250 students, I'd need A LOT of birch bark. So that's when I came up with my faux birchbark. I used charcoal pencil on white paper and created my own birchbark texture. I added a little coffee stain and some smudging, and voila! "Birchbark" paper. I decided to make a template for the box in advance to prevent any issues with measuring or cutting....saving paper! The template isn't perfect, but it works pretty well. You can download my template below:
Download the Birchbark box template for $3.00 from TPT
I haven't taught this lesson, as I plan to do so next week. I am hoping to start off by having students do a graffiti write of all they know about Native American art and culture. This will give me an idea of what we should cover (what students already know and what needs clarification). I am going to show students some images of the Jeffers Petroglyphs located in Minnesota and we might even compare/contrast with Egyptian hieroglyphics.
Next I will have students create a design on the lid of their box using Ojibwe symbols. I might even have them do a glue resist-- so many choices! Once the design is done, we will construct the boxes. I am having my template printed on ivory cardstock paper to make it more sturdy, but printer paper seems like it works too.
I will be sure to make an update post about how this lesson goes. I think this will make a great end of semester project.
Examples of Ojibwe Birchbark Boxes
I have seen many art teachers attempt a Chihuly-inspired sculpture. This was a quick two-day project that had great results! We collected over 350 plastic bottles from students, parents, and staff over the semester. As a quick project before winter break, we made four Chihuly sculptures.
Students were introduced to the artist Dale Chihuly. We talked about the principles of design of form and movement. We looked at the Mayo Clinic's collection of Chihuly's art in the Gonda Building. Many students were excited about this because they had seen these in real life. We also talked about abstract art and what this meant. We had a short discussion about Chihuly and his team. I asked students if they thought Chihuly was a real artist if he has other people make his work. This created a great discussion/debate about the difference between an artist and a designer.
Students then took a plastic bottle (some chose the same one from their drawing). I told students to choose a bottle that wasn't too thick. The really thin and cheap water bottles worked best. AVOID the gatorade, ICE, and thicker milk/juice bottles. I had students write their name on some masking tape and stick it to the bottom of their bottles. Students then used coarse sand paper to sand their bottles down. This helps the paint stick better.
I used elmer's glue, neon paint, and a small bit of water to create the paint mixture. After students sanded, they immediately painted their bottles. I allowed students to use more than one color and they could also do a design like stripes or polka dots. I told students that it was okay if the paint was thicker in some places than others. Once they were painted, we left them standing up right in the cupboard to dry.
We reviewed form, movement, and abstract art. I did a quick demo on how to the cut the bottle in either a spiral or flower design. I numbered students off 1-2. #1 did a spiral. #2 did a flower. Students cut the bottoms of their bottles off and then cut their design.
I created wire cages with christmas lights in advance. I used string to hang the wire cage from the ceiling. We attached the bottles by tying with string/wire at the opening of the bottle and attaching to the wire cage. I did most of the tying to the cage as it got too chaotic to have all the students at once trying to attach their bottles. Some of the paint flaked off a bit, so we did quite a bit of sweeping. Students who finished early were required to clean up and help students who might have been a bit behind. Once we had them all attached, we lit it up and turned the lights off....there were A LOT of "oooohs" and "aaaaahs". The last part of class we watched a 15-minute Video on Chihuly Chandelier's and Towers and how the glass is blown.
There were four chandelier's total (2 classes for each chandelier). I plan on giving one of the chandeliers to another interested art teacher and keeping one. The other two I am hoping we can raffle off at our end of the semester "classroom art show". I can just see these hanging up in a kid's room or outside on a deck (they are completely outdoors-proof). This was a lesson that EVERY student seemed to enjoy and was capable of doing.
I have seen many art teachers teaching Islamic tiles to middle schoolers. It's a fun lesson and I took it even a step further by teaching addition and subtraction. Students were required to create a 5"x5" clay tile using at least one piece of addition and one piece of subtraction. Students were also required to use radial symmetry in their design and use non-objective shapes, patterns, and lines (no smiley faces or names...or "peace" and "love for that matter).
I made copies from the book "Decorative Tile Designs Coloring Book" and laminated them so each table had a reference point for designs. Some students knew exactly what designs they wanted to do and other students really struggled, so having these reference points helped a lot. This also lead into teaching about medieval stained glass windows. We also watched a short video about Buddhist mandalas (which my 6th graders REALLY got into!)
Age: 6th graders
Time required: 4 (50 min.) class periods for construction & 3 (50 min.) class periods for painting/finishing
I created videos for each step of this project's process. These were my first instructional videos, so they are somewhat rough. I made these videos because we are limited on space and resources in the classroom. I also find that videos are much more engaging for students than a live demo. I had each class vote on whether I should do live demonstrations or videos and ALL the kids voted for the videos. It saves my voice too.
1st Step ~ Planning the Clay Tile (with Buddhist Mandalas for inspiration)
Step Two ~ Rolling a Clay Slab
Step Three ~ Making Designs in Clay Using Radial Symmetry & Addition/Subtraction
Step Four ~ Finishing the Clay Tile
Step Five ~ Painting the Islamic Tiles
One problem we ran into was that many students did not sufficiently score/slip their feet so we had a lot or some fall off (we learn from experience, right!?). This was remedied by some epoxy glue and then having students paint their tiles once the glue had dried. I also made sure to make some extra tiles before firing and it was a good thing I did. One student's tile cracked into a million tiny pieces and another student promptly dropped theirs while it was still drying. I decided to be a nice art teacher and let these students have an extra I had made.
Some students used mica flakes after they had finished glossing their tiles. This added a unique sparkly effect while avoiding craft herpes (glitter).
The Artist Statement
I also had students write a one-paragraph artist statement answering the following questions:
The statement was low pressure as I told students they were graded for content and not spelling/grammar errors. This statement was part of my assessment to check for understanding.
We finished these right before winter break. Some students were very excited to wrap their tiles up in newspaper and take them home as Christmas presents. I stole some paint sample chips from the local hardware store and hole-punched them in the corner. I told students they could use the paint samples as gift tags. They turned out so cool!
I have found it difficult to teach art history without being boring. I created this handout to be used in students' sketchbooks all semester long so we learn art history one piece at a time and not necessarily in order. The handout has small pictures of inventions to give students an idea of when time periods are happening. I also left small blank boxes at each time period for students to do a brief sketch of an example of artwork from that time period.
Go to Teachers Pay Teachers to download this art history timeline handout for FREE!
This was a project where students really impressed me. We had been collecting plastic bottles all semester long and so we had about 350 bottles stored in bags and boxes around the classroom. I knew I wanted to teach students how to draw perspective, but I was struggling on what. Then it donned on me-- plastic bottles! Each student chose a bottle to draw. We spent a whole class day talking about pop art and how pop art got it's name from popular culture. We also talked about how artists draw in perspective. They draw what they SEE, and not what they THINK they see.
We also talked about how benday dots are kind of like pixels and how they create color when put close together (from far away, they look colored in....up close, they look like just dots). We also learned about creating value and how we could use hatching to show value in our bottles. I showed students comic book drawings that had hatching and this really had them motivated.
I have my benday dot handouts available in small dots and large dots at my TPT store
We looked at several different pop artists including Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenburg, and Claus Oldenburg....students kept saying that if you're a famous pop artist, you have to have a cool last name. ;)
Students practice drawing their bottle. I had students fold their benday dot handouts in half and try to draw only one half of the bottle on one side of the folded line. This helped students get the symmetry right.
They drew the other side of their bottle to match the opposite side. Students had to check the top and bottle of their bottles to make sure they were curved and showing correct perspective.
Students draw the details of their bottle-- logos, fluid ounces, slogans, designs, etc. Students then added their hatching lines to make value.
Students colored in their whole picture LIGHTLY with colored pencils. Students were required to mix the primary colors of colored pencils at least once in their drawing. If students had black on their bottle, I encouraged students to choose another color, as it covers up their benday dots so you can't see them.
Next, students started coloring in the benday dots with markers. This was the most time-consuming part of the lesson. Some students got really impatient, but I had them take breaks to stretch and read some art books if they needed it. Students then outlined all their pencil lines in sharpie to really make it pop. Overall, once they were finished, students really seemed to like their work. When hung up together, they definitely have a "pop" art vibe!
This lesson focused on the artist Modigliani, Expressionism, and Proportions of the face. Students used 12"x18" 60# paper (but 80# would have been better...), oil pastels, and baby oil to create their own "oil paintings".
First, I showed students some of Modigliani's artwork. A big question was, "Why did he make all his portraits have long necks?" This led into a discussion about expressionism and how not all art is realistic.
Next, we talked about what a portrait is and how we draw correct proportions. I used Expressive Monkey's proportions handout to keep students on track.
We folded out papers in half and then each side folded towards the middle. This made three folds. The top fold was the "eye" line. The middle fold was the "chin" line and the bottom line was the "shoulder" line. This made the necks long like Modigliani's.
Students were then asked to brainstorm what they wanted to do when they grow up. If students were stuck, I had them choose something they'd like to do when they grow up (like climb Mount Everest, play in the NBA, go skydiving, etc.) I had them draw three symbols that represented what they wanted to be or what they wanted to do. I modeled this for them by pretending I wanted to be a nurse. I drew a stethoscope, the red cross symbol, and a wheelchair. I told students that I wanted to be able to tell instantly what they wanted to be.
Students spent two class periods drawing their self-portrait in pencil first. Then they started coloring in with oil pastel. I had small cups of baby oil spread out over each table. I made sure to only put a little bit in each cup to keep kids from using too much or spilling too much. Students used their fingers and q-tips to blend the baby oil and oil pastel together. Some students really didn't like the smell of baby oil while others had no complaints.
We made sure to use newspaper below the portraits. As baby oil was added, the paper tended to turn transparent and there was baby oil everywhere. However, I noticed that after a month of these drying out in the hallway, that the oil seemed to evaporate.
I used approximately 6 bottles of baby oil for 250 6th graders. It was more oil than I expected! I bought a pack of 500 q-tips at the Dollar Tree. I had a huge stash of old oil pastels that worked wonderfully though. The dried out oil pastels came right back to life when baby oil was added. I told students to use black last, as black is very tough to cover up and it gets smudges all over!
Storing the portraits was a bit of a challenge. Some students used a bit too much oil, so their colors would rub off on other students' work. Next time I would monitor better how much oil the students used. As I stated before though, after a month of drying, they were much less oily. Overall this was a fun project and really helped me get to know my students better!
Overall cost of the project was about $25 without the cost of paper for 250 6th graders.
During my student teaching, I observed a middle school art teacher in her classroom. She used something she called "Mona Lisa". She had a poster of the Mona Lisa on her wall and every time she said "Mona Lisa" students immediately turned their eyes on her and were respectfully paying attention.
I decided to adopt this method in my own way. Throughout my room I have four small posters of the Mona Lisa with colored arrows pointing to her. On the first day of class, we talked about what to do when I say "Mona Lisa".
Once I told students about it, I had them practice by me saying "Mona Lisa". Some students gave me a pretty darn good impression of the Mona Lisa. I told students that when I say this, it means I have something very important to say that they shouldn't miss. Throughout the semester I have to remind them every now and then on what this means and why it is important but it is a unique way to get their attention without straining my voice or yelling "Quiet down!".
I started out teaching thinking I could get away without assigning students jobs. I thought students could clean up independently and respectfully with little intervention from me.
Boy, was I wrong. I was spending several hours a day cleaning up and wasting student time when it came to pass out work and handouts. That's when I came up with a pretty nifty system. I created five jobs:
I knew all students would want to be captain so I made sure to explain that the captain's job is the most work. They must act like a second teacher, they must rarely be absent, and they have the most responsibility. Team captains also have to do absent students' jobs. This seemed to take some of the glamour away from the role of captain. Since my classes range in size so much, I decided that any extra students at a table would choose either table crew or floor finder.
I had students spend 5 minutes deciding amongst themselves what jobs they would do. Most students had a vote for their captains. Next, I had students choose a team name. They had 10 minutes to come up with a creative name that everyone agreed on. I wrote down each students' job next to their name on my seating chart along with their chosen team names. I stressed that if students didn't do their job (example: if I saw that team "Lady Gaga"'s floor was dirty, then I knew that that team's floor finder didn't do their job) then they'd get their name written down. If I had to write their name down three times within the semester, then they'd get what we call a "Stop & Think".
Overall, this system has really stream-lined my daily instruction and saves me so much time at the end of the day. One good student doesn't get stuck doing all the cleaning as well. I think the custodians like it too. :)
I am a 6th year high school art teacher in Rochester, MN. I have taught middle school for 2 years and high school for 4 years. I truly enjoy working with students on a daily basis. I also enjoy teaching real-world skills such as problem solving, using technology, and the power of teamwork and collaboration. My joy is sharing my passion for art with others!
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