Learning is....
Planting a seed in our brain... learning to water, nurture and grow it.... so we can live on the fruit of our learning and plant more seeds.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

The View from our School - Landscape in watercolour pencil

It was a hot, sunny August day, at the beginning of Term Three, a Thursday afternoon.  We'd been inside hard at it all week, and I decided, stuff it, let's go outside and draw the view!!

Yep, it was a blue sky day.  So we found some lino to press on, dished out the paper, found our pencils and rubbers and dragged our chairs outside.  I asked the children to find a suitable place in the bus park and look at the view.  While they were looking, I took a few photos as I have a few students who would struggle to draw as the view was so big.

I showed the children how to hold their hands up like a picture frame to decide where they would be drawing.

Some finished drawing that afternoon (we were out there for about an hour), but some used the photos I took.  They brought the photo they wanted up on the laptop, zoomed if necessary and drew then.  I have one boy who is obsessed with perfection, so for him, this was the way he felt safest to do this art activity.

The picture above is mine.   I try to do all the art activities so that the students have a chance to see the techniques I am teaching demonstrated.  We were using watercolour pencils to do this art, and I had the box of 12 purchased, one box between two students.  I also brought in my person watercolour pencils as it had more colours, in particular, white. 

I talked to them about what is furtherest away in the picture/view.  And that would be the sky, so I told them they needed to do this first.  I showed them how to colour darker further up, and lighter as it got to the hills.  I showed them how to outline the hills and to use a combination of dark green and dark blue, pressing lightly but colouring in solidly to get the 'far-away-ness' of the ranges in the distance. 

I showed them that has they did each layer of hills closer to the front to use brighter, lighter shades; to use different shades of green and degrees of pressure to show differences between the layers; to use different colours combined to create the differences between the layers; to change the direction they coloured in to show diffences between the layers; how to outline the trees.

Things like the wires on the fence near the front and the fences in the distance were encouraged to be done last, after the water was applied.

We actually mostly applied the water as we completed each layer.  This ensured that each 'front' layer went over the previous one.  I showed them how if you use less water the colour is darker, and the more water you use the lighter it becomes.

When it came to the paddocks and trees, how the brush was used was also important.  As with using the colouring pencil, the direction the brush went in was also important.

The students experimented on spare paper with how to make the trees appear in the bush parts of the landscape.  We also had fun adding in sheep, rocks and fences towards the end of the pictures.  These picture took a long time, and we came back to them over many weeks, just doing small parts at a time.  And some of the children were amazing at the small details.  Check out the fence in the picture at the bottom as an example of those small details that 'make' the picture.

I love what the kids achieved because they all tried their best and really listened to and watched the techniques that I demonstrated.  All their pictures have effectively demonstrated their techniques and show their impression of the view from our school.

What you will need:
  • pencil and rubber
  • A3 cartridge (not the thin stuff either)
  • Something to press on
  • A spactacular view
(and it's a good idea to take photos at the time to refer back to later)
  • Something to sit on (optional)
  • water colour pencils
  • fine brushes, water in an appropriate container
To finish, mount in an appropriate way before putting up on a wall to display.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Sneaky Poetry

Just thought I'd mix it all up with a bit of English to break the monotony of art activities.

I got this from a book that has all sorts of poetry forms in it, and I find that it is a fantastic way to teach the children about verbs, nouns, adjectives and adverbs.  Above you can see a photo of the modelling books I used to introduce this with my class.

The last time I did this, the theme my class was studying was NZ native birds.  But you could do this with any theme really.  While I was relieving I found pets was a good theme.  Children love writing about their pets.

So this is how sneaky poetry works:  You don't tell the reader what it is until the last line, and the four preceeding lines are clues.

The first line is an adjective and a noun.
The second line has two adjectives.
The third line has two or three verbs and a noun.
The next line is a phrase or a thought about the subject.
The last line reveals all.

So lets say I wanted to write a poem about my (now not so little) kitten, Ritchie McClaw.
Firstly I would brainstorm as many adjectives about him as I could (e.g. black, hyper, cheeky, destructive, naughty, curious, inquisitive, cute, adorable, annoying...).

I would also need to brainstorm some verbs to describe what he does (e.g. rip, tear, jump, eat, snuggle, investigate...).  Below is an example I did with the class in the modelling book:

So here it goes....

Black feline
Curious and destructive
Ripping and tearing the newspaper
Snuggling on the couch
Ritchie McClaw

Obviously the layout of the poem is important and some students, particularly young students, struggle with the idea of using new lines for each section of the poem.  Punctuation such as commas and full stops are not necessary, but capital letters at the beginning of each line are.

Ofcourse, once the students have written their poems, I'm sure you'll find an appropriate way to publish and display them.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Beach Scenes

I did this activity for calendar art at the end of 2010.  It was one of those activities that you need to do over multiple days and required me to demonstrate each step and used a variety of media in the final product - and they looked bloody good when finished!!

Firstly I trawled the net for photos of gorgeous beach scenes like this one of Hot Water Beach that would create "layers" to inspire the children.  You can see in the picture below how we created layers like above.

First we used blue water colour paint.  I showed the children how less water creates a darker, bolder blue, and more water washes the blue out.  I wanted them to create that effect on the horizon when the blue is more washed out.  We painted the whole page.

We then when through magazines and found all the pages we possibly could with blue on them and ripped them out so we could cut up the blue into small pieces, about 2x2cm.  Some smaller, some larger, lots of interesting shapes.

We ruled a line halfway from top to bottom with pencil lightly.  Then we used the blue paper and pva to collage the sea.  The idea of all the different blues is the way the sun light plays across the sea... and the pva makes it nice and shiny too to help that effect play out.  We collaged all the way to the bottom of the page.

I had a whole lot of sand coloured scrapbooking paper.  I cut this into 4cm wide strips and luckily they were longer than the calender paper.  On the back I showed the children how to draw sand dunes.  Then I cut them out, glued it on the calender paper, and trimmed off the excess when dry.

Now it was time to get the acrylics out.  I got out the light and the dark greens and mixed them with each other, some white, some dark blue, to get a range of greens.  We looked at photos of pohutukawa.

Using the not sharp end of wooden skewers, we dipped the end into the paint and dotted and smeared the paint to create the illusion of pohutukawa trees peeking in from the side.  We also wanted to give a illusion of being able to look through the leaves to the sea, sky and beach.  Some were more successful than others.

Then it was back into the magazines to find green (for islands on the horizon), yellow/orange (for the sun), red (for the pohutukawa flowers) and brown (for the flax and grasses).  Our magazines were getting a bit lean, so I went through the recycling at my parents and got the glossy real estate and furniture brochures.  I showed the children how to make interesting shapes for islands on the horizon and to cut the flaxes and grasses with pointy ends.  Again the pva helped to give the islands and grasses a sheen to give the illusion of the sun playing on them.

Then we started thinking birds.  We had done a large study on NZ native birds.  We picked out some sea and shore birds, printed them out in black and white and then the students coloured them with colouring pencils and cut them out to stick on.

The final touch was the 'bunny-tails' I had at home that were collected from my beach many moons ago.  Each child got one (or two if there were some left over).  We squished them as flat as we could and used pva to glue them on.  And now they look like toe toe!!

Even though all the children used the same techniques, all their pictures are different from each other.  The parents loved them and they looked wicked in the school's calendar art display - you so noticed them when you walked in the hall!!  And they were awesome when they became calendars and cards too!!

Materials required:
  • A4 stiff paper
  • blue water colour cakes
  • magazines and/or glossy brochures - blue, brown, green, red, yellow - for collage
  • sand coloured scrapbooking paper
  • a variety of shades of green acrylic/poster paint
  • PVA
  • 'bunny-tails' from the beach
  • scissors
  • pencil, rubber and ruler

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Daffodil Day Art

I know that Daffodil Day is in August.... but better to blog about it later than never....

We made our daffodils to be displayed at the National Bank in Te Awamutu and they were easy and fun to make.

Materials required:
  • green and yellow drinking straws
  • yellow card
  • "cups" from egg cartons
  • yellow and/or orange paint
  • green card
  • polystyrene (from the packing in appliance boxes - we got ours from an appliance shop in TA)
  • green paint
  • glue gun and hot glue sticks

Firstly we cut out the egg "cups" from the egg cartons and the children choose to paint theirs either yellow or orange.

I gave each child 1/2 of an A4 piece of yellow card and showed them how to draw the petals - I drew like this:

Ofcourse my real drawing was a bit better than this one (done in Paint), but you get the gist.  Before cutting out the shape (in one piece!) I asked the children to rub out the internal pencil lines with a rubber and to rub out any remaining after cutting.

Then I made a hole in the centre of each petal and painted egg "cup" for them to put the straw in (I prefer to keep control of the stanley knife if you know what I mean).  We scored the petals along the now invisible pencil line with the tip of our scissors so we could bend in the petals.

We then put the green drinking straw through the hole and cut a 3-4cm piece from a yellow drinking straw.  You may be able to see that we cut the end of the yellow straw to make it look more frilly in the centre of our daffodil.  We also cut the other end of the short straw so it would fit over the green straw coming through more easily.  We secured the straws to each other, the petals and the egg "cup" with the hot glue.

Finally we cut thin strips of green card to look like the leaves of a daffodil plant and hot glued them to the sides.  It is a good idea to glue the leaves about 3cm up the green straw to allow the straw to slide into the polystyrene.

Meanwhile we had painted the polystyrene green and once that was dry and the daffodils complete, the children 'planted' their daffodils.  A nice touch is to add 'grass' to each block of polystyrene, by cutting green card to look like grass and glue to the side or slide into the polystyrene.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Melbourne Cup Part 2: Ties for the the boys!

Yeah.  I've been slack.  But in my defence, we all know that November/December are busy months for teachers.

But now it is holidays and I am back!!!

So here is what my boys did for the Melbourne Cup.

First I downloaded an outline of a tie from the net, and put a number of them on a page and printed them out on A3 paper so they would be big.  I think it was two per page.  I photocopied it onto cartridge for extra strength.

I went to the Warehouse and sifted through their amazing assortment of paper for scrapbooking and the like to choose paper with the most funky patterns and shapes.  Nothing flowery for my country boys (who regularly grab the pink pencils I dole out as prizes!).

I let the boys have free choice of the paper they used (hard for a control freak teacher).  My only requirement to them was to have no part of the original paper showing.

Obviously the boys used scissors and they used gluesticks.  PVA can also be used.

Some boys went for large colour blocks, some boys went for using as many patterns and colours as they could.  They really liked the variety of colour and pattern and the texture of the scrapbooking paper.

The boys were very proud of their work and proudly wore them around the class and shared with each other what they were creating.  For a simple activity, they got a lot of pleasure, and this activity can be done with all ages, not just my 9-11 year olds!!