Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Leaf Collage

 One of my favorite things about teaching Art is that nothing is off limits in terms of other subject areas I can tap into for inspiration. This week's cross curriculum lesson touched on science. We learned about the seasons (specifically autumn), went on a walk across campus, collected leaves and learned the characteristics of each tree.  The goal was to find a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors (elements of art). Students reviewed when they tried their hand at leaf identification. There was an art history component as I shared, with them, the Earth Works of artist, Andy Goldsworthy, who often uses leaves to create his art.  Then each student choose pressed leaves according to size, shape, and color, to create an image.  Many of them made animals, but some higher level students created patterns, and some lower functioning students just practiced gluing leaves on the paper with out much thought given to arrangement.  Fall leaves, like cherry blossoms, come and go, and so if you don't get out and enjoy the colors and weathers soon, you'll have to wait another year before the chance comes again.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Painted Pots & Plants Project

A school's Art room is often simultaneously the school's garbage can, with teachers constantly coming and asking "Can you use this?", and the school's gift shop, with administrators saying, "We have a special guest coming today, do you have something we can give them?"  In the past, I've kept a few student-made ornaments or magnets on hand, but this year I decided to have a couple more projects worked into the curriculum that can be used for gift or sales opportunities.

One of these assignments was to paint a terracotta pot, with colors and  patterns to make it unique.  When the fundraiser for the senior trip approached, I heard the call for silent auction items, and went to the shelf of pots that had been sitting there for a couple of months.  Luckily, our horticulture teacher was on board with donating plants, and so it became an interdisciplinary lesson and collaboration to pot birds nest plants and auction them off. Too often student fundraisers are working with companies that take a big cut of the sales, but since these projects are using classroom materials that would have been spent on learning experiences anyway, (a buck or two worth of supplies per pot), the entire price goes right back to support the students.  Come out to the silent auction and corn hole tournament on November 16th to help GAB students earn and learn!

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Vision of Christmas Tree for the Visually Impaired

The Museum of Art and Science has an annual Festival of Trees exhibit. This year, my students and I participated as a way to advocate and inform the public about what it means to be blind. I spent a couple weeks teaching my students how to make ornaments that do that. We cut pages of a Brailled magazine into 3/4" X 22" strips to fold into Moravian Stars and we cut and painted wooden dowels to make white cane ornaments. The black handle and the red bottom was made with colored tape, and the tips were made with beads. Red was added to white canes so that they could be seen in the snow. There are a lot of different tips of cane tips to be chosen according to the needs of the user. There's a pencil tip, which most of my students avoid since they get caught in side walk cracks; there's a marshmallow roller (a cylinder wider than the pencil tip, which is about the same size, shape, and color of a marshmallow), a ball tip, which is very common, and a disc shape jumbo roller.

For students who couldn't handle the complicated instructions of the Moravian star, I taught them create curls of Braille by rolling it around dowels and pencils.  Some of these, like the stars were dusted with gold spray paint.

Left over Brailed paper from the magazine was cut into quarter or half inch strips to create quilled ornaments. These ornaments make tactile images of hearts, flowers, angels, birds, snowflakes and snowmen, once glued to cut up plastic covers to Braille books.  There were also Braille beads that students strung to make words like "Joy" and "Peace," but we ran out of the letter beads we needed after a handful of ornaments.  For the tree topper, I made a large Moravian Star using poster board cut lengthwise in 2" wide strips. Two strips were glued together and folded in half.

  I took twelve high school students the the museum to decorate our assigned tree for the display. We titled it "Vision of Christmas" and if you look close enough you'll find some stress balls that look like eye balls peering out from boughs. We're not afraid of whimsy and it matched our theme.

While we were at the museum we checked out the art exhibits, the mini zoo, the artists workshop and science center for lots of hands on fun.  After a picnic lunch we made it back to the school for the second half the day, with our hearts full of early Christmas cheer.