Archive for the ‘New Art Lessons’ Category

My friend and fellow art teacher, Joanna, came up with this lesson last year, and I decided to try it out this year.  I created the worksheet (attached below) but it might not be exactly what she had in mind… regardless, this is an interesting cross-curricular lesson.

Students use their prior knowledge of Greek mythology to create their own invented god or goddess.  As a refresher, I made a powerpoint based on the information I found on www.mythweb.com that was my intro to the lesson.

The Olympians

After discussing the power point and allowing students to add to the information I present their own retained information, I introduced the worksheet.  It’s pretty self-explanatory:

(I apologize for these worksheet files not being more printer and edit-friendly, but wordpress would not let me upload my original publisher files.)

Students will then create their invented god or goddess as a clay sculpture.  You will need:

1 box of clay per class

Enough empty yarn cones for each student (a class set is sufficient)

Popsicle sticks, stylus tools, and other clay tools

Whatever sort of placemat you use under your clay for each student (I use the discarded ends from the laminator)

Slab templates for each student (class set)

I cut a slab off the block of clay about 1/2″ thick for each student, then instruct them to use the heel of their palm to flatten it into the appropriate shape for the template.  (I do not have a slab roller, which would make this step unnecessary.)  Students then use the popsicle stick to cut out the shape of the template from their clay, then wrapping the cut slab around the yarn cone, scoring, and welding to make a clay cone over the yarn cone armature.  (I had issues with my cones getting stuck inside the clay sculptures, which I got around by wrapping each cone in one of those fairly useless brown paper towels, taping it so it stayed on the cone.  When you go to remove the cone at the end of class, the paper towel might come off inside the sculpture, but at lease the cone is easily removed!) 

Students then use the scraps from their slab to create a golf ball-sized head, which they score and weld to the top of the clay cone.  This becomes the head and body for their god or goddess.  (Since it is shaped like a cone, the character must be wearing a toga, robe, or cape.  I plan to experiment with slicing down the center to make legs, but we’ll see.)  I allow students to use clay texture mats at this point to give the clothing a design that goes along with their character.  After that, students score and weld arms, hair, accessories, etc and sculpt faces and other traits onto the sculpture.  The entire process will probably take 2-3 classes, so at the end of class I draped each sculpture with a wet paper towel, put them on my clay cart, and put a trash bag over the entire class’ sculptures. 

My students are still at the mid-way point on their clay projects, but here is the sample or prototype that Joanna made:


Joanna’s sculpture depicts her invented goddess of art: she carries a roll of parchment, has a blank face to allude to the blank canvas that the artist faces, and has an eye on the top of her head to symbolize visual art.  She required her students to similarly create 3 attributes on their sculpture that described the characteristics of their invented god or goddess.


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Today I added pictures to accompany the Animal Silhouettes sub lesson and added a new one, called Silly Sentences.  I also posted a lesson I created that I based on traditional Pennsylvania Dutch Hex Signs to have the students create a Personal Identity Radial Design.  You’ll find a power point of the hex sign examples, the files for the front and back of the brainstorming worksheet I created for the lesson, as well as a few examples of completed student artwork.

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I decided that instead of weaving plain colored construction paper with my 2nd graders, I wanted to make it a bit more meaningful to them and get them out of their comfort zone a bit.  I asked them to hold their 12″ x 18″ white drawing paper vertically and draw a picture of themselves (using their hand as a guide around which to draw the oval for the head, so they don’t draw it too small), remembering all the rules we learned previously about drawing the human face and body, and using a skin-color crayon to do all the preliminary outlines in the event that they make a mistake.  If this happens, the mistake will usually be covered up when they color in their skin later.  They were instructed to look closely at what they were wearing, how their hair was that day, etc, and document these details in their picture.  Then I asked them to draw images and symbols around them in the picture, as if they were thinking about their favorite things, to include favorite foods, toys, cartoons, hobbies, sports, etc.  This was “the only time,” I told them, that they were allowed to have objects just floating around them.  This gave me a better idea about what was important to them.

After the finished the first drawing, they were to use a piece of the same paper, held horizontally, to draw a landscape of their favorite place.  I told them that this place could be in “their country,” or might be at the beach, the park, a playground, their yard, at their grandparent’s or friend’s house, etc.  They were educated about foreground, middle ground, and background before they drew.

After completing both drawings, on the 2nd class I had them sit on the carpet for instruction.  I told them we would be doing something “super crazy” with our drawings, and not to get upset because they would turn out really great, but to be open to new ideas.  I then showed them how I folded the self portrait paper in half “like a book” or “hamburger style,” and that it was very important that the fold was at the bottom, “by your tummy” and the open part was at the top.  I then used some strips I’d cut from posterboard as a guide to draw lines.  I used a wide strip to make a “no-go zone” at the top of the self portrait, lining it up with the top edge and drawing a line horizontally across it.  Then I used smaller, thinner strips to draw vertical lines from the fold at the bottom to the line for the “no-go zone,” then cut along the vertical lines up to the top horizontal line.  For the landscape, I folded and marked it the same way, omitting the “no-go zone” and remembering to number each strip (1-8) before cutting them apart.  As I did this, there were gasps from all the students, and some cries of “I don’t want to cut up my pictures!” I find this completely ridiculous, personally, as I see them chuck artwork they’ve spent weeks on into the trash like it’s nothing on their way out the door.  It kills me a little inside to see them do that.

I then begin to weave the landscape strips into the self portrait drawing, discussing the over-under technique and that each row must be the opposite of the one before it.  By the time they see me start weaving, most of them have gotten over their initial shock at my process and have gotten excited about it.  I tell them that the end result will look very different than their original drawings and that parts of some items will be covered up, but the final weaving will show others things that are most important to them.


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