Sunday, January 15, 2017

Clay Maracas

I'm busy working on the standards relating to utilitarian objects or functional art. I always try to emphasize the fun in functional art. With that in mind, the 3rd-5th are making clay maracas. We have already done weaving, you can check out the plastic bookmarks here.

Last year I did benches click here. And the year before that I did clocks, find it here. I have some plans for chairs and birdhouses in the near future.

The very basic directions for the clay maracas are to make two pinch pots, make little clay beads, (must use the word beads and not balls..... gotta love those 4th & 5th grade boys) wrap the beads in paper towels and place inside one of the pinch pots, score and slip edges of both pots and join them together.

When students finished, they were instructed to put them on a piece of paper with their name on it, on the back table. I would then write, with the point of a compass, their name and class code. I would also create the hole in the bottom for the air to escape from as they heat up in the kiln.

So for anyone curious as to what happens when you don't put that hole in it OR you thought you did but it created a dimple instead, it breaks! This was my first explosion and hopefully my last. I was glad to figure out what went wrong. (I did glue it back together and gave the student the choice to do it again or keep that one.)

My amazing students took it one step further and created all sorts of different shapes. They also added details with their new found knowledge of the score and slip trick. Some also learned what happens when you don't score and slip........ But that's what glue is for!

 The above student is in the middle of making an Eiffel Tower.

 We have a cube and a pumpkin.

I really had too many students doing this project for me to have them glaze them and re-fire them. So students first used crayons to color them and watercolor paint to fill in between crayon lines. Basically crayon resist.
 We have the Titanic and Pokemon.
 A fox and a cupcake.
An owl, a mountain and a ball.

There were so many interesting shapes and themes created. I know my students really enjoyed it.

If working with clay is new to you I found many wonderful videos online for making pinch pots and clay maracas-SO just Google away and have some fun!

I would love to know what lessons you have for teaching functional art!

Thanks for reading!!!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Story in a Box

 Happy New Year!!  It's a good thing that I like to do projects with recycled materials. First of all I'm in a Title One school, which means my art budget in usually less then a dollar per student. And I was in high school for the First Earth Day in April, 1970. Which makes recycling near and dear to my heart.

Soooo when my school received new laptops, I received a bunch of empty boxes!!
I had planned to use the boxes last spring to do a "Peeps" contest, however I went out on medical leave. I did write how I did my project, you can read about it here. I had hoped to do it with my 4th graders last year, so it's only fair to let them do it now that they are in 5th grade.

I brought the finished project to school to show my students and they really wanted to get started. 
Because of limited storage, I decided to let only one class  at a time work on them.

In addition to the laptop boxes, my wonderful media team always checks with me before getting rid of any packaging materials that comes with stuff they order for the school. And that's how I ended up with all this great styrofoam for the students to use with their project.

 My daughter does a great job saving the tops from her daughter's food pouches. I also had a parent donate 2 giant bags full of creamer containers for a bobble head project (you can read about that here) and since I don't need those tops-they were up for grabs.

And since we are NOT allowed to use bulletin board paper, I inherited quite a few rolls of the stuff for the students to use. To set up for the lesson, tables had scissors, markers, white glue. I also had hot glue guns available for them at the back counters.

While it is fun to just go to art and make stuff from recycles-I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't connect it to our standards. My intro to this project included a discussion on careers. When you see a movie or a play who designs the set? I asked them to base this project on their favorite book or story and create the scene for their characters.

My students had a blast!  It was an engaging project that took about 3 class sessions. Now the other 5th grade classes want to know when they can start their Story in a Box!

What projects do you do that uses recycles? I'd love to hear about it! 

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Clay Hearts

I have been doing this project for years. I remember attending a planning day in my district and everyone brought finished clay projects to share along with directions. I'm pretty sure this lesson came from a magazine article and I apologize up front about not finding the original source.

It's a great beginner lesson, it introduces some key vocabulary words, but I'm beginning to think all the prep involved is just too much!

The first week students practice with Play Doh. Meanwhile, if I'm lucky, I get the older students to trace hearts onto scrap laminate film and a parent to add student names and class codes, color coordinated to match the table they sit at. (Makes it faster to hand out.)

I put down plastic tablecloths and clay boards. When students come in I model for them using the following vocabulary words: wedge, coil, sphere, smooth, thick, thin..........

 They are to use a coil to outline the heart and then spheres and coils to fill in the heart.

 Then they need to smooth it out. Interestingly they are working front to back. In other words, the front is touching the laminate film, so they need to turn it over to see what it looks like.

Then they place it on a wooden board, where I need to continue smoothing it out for them. And some of them, need clay added to the back to make it thicker so it won't break and I scratch their name and class code onto it. (Using the point of a compass.)

When they are dry enough, they get loaded into the kiln and fired. Which takes a full day.

Then students colored them with oil pastels. I attached some raffia and voilĂ .

 Some students wanted an antique finish, I used watered down black tempera for that.

They were then wrapped with a piece of cardboard and donated bubble wrap in bulletin board paper to hopefully get home in one piece.

They really do come out beautiful......
Normally I would do this with kindergarten students, but since I haven't done clay in 2 school years I opted to do it with k-2nd. I felt they needed to catch up. Last year I got hurt before I started clay and the year before we were in the middle school and access to the kiln was difficult. Soooo I think I see more clay in the future since I managed to use my new kiln without blowing up the school!

What's your favorite one day clay lesson?

Thanks for reading!  Hope this week, for those of us working, goes fast!! Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Rewards-Yay or Nay?

 I have had a treasure chest in my art room for years. I have changed out how they earn something from it several times now. This year I started issuing Depp $'s.  (I must credit my daughter with this idea or I'll hear about it!) Anyway they are magical at times. More with the younger students then the older ones. Students can earn them by being the quietest table, the table that cleans up first OR if they have a spectacular answer (one I wasn't expecting) to a question I asked. I will admit it has been a hectic year and I need to give out the Depp $'s more frequently.

Students are instructed to write their name on the back of the dollar and store it either in their student pocket folder or their class box. My plan is to have them pick from the treasure chest quarterly.

Sooooo you might be wondering where all the wonderful goodies come from that end up in the treasure chest, 'cause I know you're thinking you can't afford to do this.

My greatest source for this is conferences. I visit the vendors multiple times, and the little hoarder that I am, I grab up the free samples. (Yes, I actually take an empty suitcase with me.) The way I see it I am building brand recognition among my young artists.  

Another source is the movie theater. What you say? Kids love getting the 3D glasses that I save after going to the movies. Funny story-my daughter donated a bunch of little things for the treasure chest, which included 3D glasses from a movie we took my grandson to. And what do you thing he wanted from the treasure chest?? Yeah, the glasses! My daughter was not amused...........

I get donations to the art room all the time and sometimes that stuff will make it into the treasure chest. I have bagged up crayons and leftover colored pencils at the end of the year to put in the treasure chest. I have also made little sketch books from paper scraps. 

Samples from art fund raisers also make it into the treasure chest. As well as prizes from cereal boxes.

Inexpensive  stuff can be purchased from Oriental Trading. Or one of the many Dollar Stores that have popped up ALL over the place.

Anyway, my grandson helped me to determine what amount of Depp $'s the items should go for. And we put them in the different bins. So technically I will store things in the treasure chest, but they pick from the bins.

Apparently word has gotten out about the Depp $'s. A first grade teacher told me she was giving a lesson on economics, saving your money versus spending it and the students responded with "oh, you mean like Depp $'s?" Art, math AND economics! Oh yeah!!

I know there are many different opinions on having rewards for students. And I'm not gonna lie-it can be a hassle, especially since it takes up time that I would rather see them working. And I know some will argue that learning and being college and career ready is their reward. But I also believe that we all need to do what works for us in our environment. I'm at a Title One school and the kids love the stuff I collect for them.

Do you have a treasure chest? What are your thoughts? Yay or Nay?

Thanks for reading!!!! And if you get the January issue of School Arts Magazine, check out my clip card!