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Art teachers were STEAM-ing before STEAM was cool!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Check out these projects...

"Busy, busy," is the lament of the art teacher and mom at this time of the year! I've been running all over doing some super-awesome art projects with kiddos in Kindergarten all the way to 8th grade. I had been shying away from a couple of art projects because they were beyond my comfort level, but I made myself push on and try some projects I really thought would be worthwhile. Here are the projects I tried with my students with my notes on each project. I didn't get photos of any of these since I was very, ahem, engaged due to messes, etc. But check them out...


Kimmy Cantrell slab masks: So awesome and very engaging! I saw this project on Shine Brite Zamorano. I had never heard of this contemporary artist, but once I saw his work I knew my kiddos would love them. 

Pros of this project:
  • Students get to work with clay--yippee! Who doesn't love that!? Learn slab techniques and "scratch and attach" method using slip to adhere clay pieces together
  • Students draw out their masks before creating in clay. Great for them to work from a plan!
  • Students learn about symmetry/asymmetry 
Cons of this project (for my situation):
  • I don't have access to a kiln, so I used Crayola air dry clay. It works well, but it isn't as sturdy as fired clay. I've hot glued finished air dry clay projects to mat board for stability, that helps most times.
  • I needed to transport these between home and school for the drying stage (I don't have a classroom) and I am super-paranoid that something will happen to these in transit or at my home. If you have a classroom, this is a non-issue, I guess.
VERDICT: This is a keeper!

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Marbled Paper Journals: I love Mr. E's site so when I saw his super-simple technique for doing Marbled paper using shaving cream and tempera paints, I thought, "I can do this!" I thought the marbled paper would be great as covers for art journals. What a unique keepsake for my "All About ME!" after school art class.

Pros of this project:
  • Students get to learn about marbling and making a book. Wow!
  • Students get to have a wonderful tactile experience with the shaving cream and get to do all sorts of experimenting with drizzling paint and choosing their own color combinations.
  • The shaving cream smells good (teachers from other classrooms kept coming in to see what smelled so good!).
Cons of this project:
  • I had an energetic group that had some, ahem, listening problems. This was a bad idea for them. Many of them would have been happy just playing in the shaving cream. The. Entire. Time. That's fine, but they were playing in the shaving cream that had paint mixed into it and it was dripping on the floors, the tables, their clothes, etc. And then when they "helped" to clean up, the water from the sink somehow poured onto the floor and we had GIANT puddles everywhere. It was a bit of a challenge. So that brings me to my next "con:"
  • This project can be messy if not managed well. I take responsibility for the mess, certainly, but it's pretty bad when I go through an entire roll of paper towels and I have to ask the custodian for a mop and bucket and spray and spend 45 minutes cleaning with said items--and that was one class!
  • This technique is very teacher-focused. I worked with three kids at a time and they made two prints each. This focus made it so some of my rowdy students had some time to wind-up and get into trouble. I felt like I was constantly juggling naughtiness and shaving cream. It was a great stress test! :-) I think I passed, but then I had lots of time to think about it as I cleaned up after class...Mr. E--you are a saint!
VERDICT: Not again.

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Kinder Rainbow Windsocks: I had my final volunteer art session with the Kindergarteners at Clark School in Amherst in May. I had done all sorts of wonderful projects with them using collage, printmaking, and paint (a bit), but I wanted to make the final project special. I knew I had my project when I saw these beautiful rainbow windsocks online at Kinder Craze. The windsocks have paint and streamers to create the most awesome and beautiful windsocks perfect for Spring! But 60+ kids with 6 different colors of paint and 30 minutes? Was this beyond my skillset? I worried, I planned, but it was awesome in the end...

Pros of this project:
  • Paint! Rainbows! Streamers! Need I say more!?!?
  • The children needed to use each of the colors to made large arcs on their papers moving from left to right. Great for hand/eye control, especially since subsequent arcs needed to touch the previous arc. Also, colors needed to be painted in rainbow order.
  • Children saw that a 2D piece of art, could transform into a 3D form: a cylinder
  • Children needed to share the foam brushes and practice patience. I placed a muffin tray in the center of each table with one of the six colors each well. One brush in each color. I had the first person start with red, paint their arc, and then pass the red brush to their neighbor who would paint and then pass the brush to his/her neighbor. This was repeated through the colors. I was worried this would take too long, but it was awesome.
Cons of this project:
  • It uses 6 colors of paint and six colors of streamers, so it would be pricey if you were buying everything for this one project, but we had everything we needed already.
  • Cleanup can be difficult. I had a helper who rinsed my brushes and trays, but I'd allow for 1/2 hour cleanup. It really wasn't all that bad at all. Those Kinders are awesome.
  • It doesn't get done in 1 day. We glued the streamers on first, then painted and then put them on the drying rack to dry. The teachers then formed the pieces into cylinders and stapled them closed the following day. They said it was super-easy (I try not to leave the classroom teachers with anything to do once my visit is done).
VERDICT: This is a keeper!

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Jean Dubuffet Paper Sculptures: What could be easier-a sheet of white paper, some markers (limited color palette--2-3 colors, plus black), scissors, glue stick and a piece of black mat board--TA DA! Instant art just like Jean Dubuffet. I've had this one pinned for a while now, but never quite had the chance to get to it. Then, in Sculpture class, we had a little free time after painting our Kimmy Cantrell masks (see above) and I thought I'd try this project. I'm glad I did--it was perfect! See a similar project here at Art Smudge.


Pros of this project:
  • Limited supplies (and the supplies needed are inexpensive).
  • Limited teacher involvement--YEAH! This is great for a sub or if you are helping students finish up/clean-up.
  • Children saw that a 2D piece of art, could transform into a 3D form.
  • Allowed for creativity in the lines, pattern, color, and 2D and 3D shapes and forms.
Cons of this project:
  • It is over quickly--I'd say, 1/2 hour from start to finish. That could be a pro, but if you are planning for it to take an entire class session, it's a con.
  • They are relatively delicate. May not make it home on the bus and cannot be stored, really.
VERDICT: This is a keeper!


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I'm very happy I tried these projects! What projects have you been hesitant to do but, in the end, were glad you did? I'd love to hear about them!

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