Imagine that you own only one pair of shoes. Nothing fancy, just a plain black pair of canvas sneakers. They fit you all right and they get you where you need to go; they are perfectly functional.
“One day, you are invited to go to your friend’s birthday party. You really want to go and dress up for the party, but you only have that one pair of shoes to wear. If you go to that party with those boring black shoes, you’ll probably feel bad because you just know that everyone will notice them as soon as you arrive.
“It won’t matter that you are wearing a totally cool shirt or that you are so much fun to be around. In your mind, you believe that people will only think about your shoes. This is how a little girl named Izzy felt about her wheelchair.”
My fifth-grade students closed their eyes as I read to them. There was absolute silence when I finished. Then they asked if it was a true story. “Yes, the part about Izzy feeling that way about her wheelchair was indeed true,” I told them. We spent some time discussing their feelings and ideas about Izzy, her sister Ailbhe, and Izzy’s wheelchair.
AFTERWARDS, STUDENTS MOVED to their laptops, where they explored an interactive Nearpod presentation about Izzy, her sister Ailbhe, and the wonderful invention Ailbhe created—Izzy Wheels—artistic covers that snap onto the wheels of a wheelchair!
Within the Nearpod presentation, students visited the Izzy Wheels website (www.izzywheels.com), looked through the various wheel cover designs, and picked their favorite. Then, using the elements and principles of art, students described their chosen design.
At the end of the presentation, they brainstormed their own designs and sketched them either in one of the Nearpod slides or in their drawing pads. They could choose to create either a realistic, abstract or non-objective theme, which would (1) represent something about themselves, and (2) be something they thought would appeal to others if they were to actually sell them as an Izzy Wheel.
ONCE THE SKETCHES WERE APPROVED, I handed out 16-inch cardboard rounds as well as 4.5-inch plastic lids. I taught them how to find the center of the cardboard by using a ruler. Next, they placed a lid in the center and measured around it to make sure it was equidistant from all sides. If it was not in the middle, they simply adjusted the lid a little.
Once the lid was centered, they traced it with a pencil. Students could then choose if they wanted to divide their cardboard rounds into even sections or if they wanted a more free-form feel. If they wanted sections they used a ruler to draw a line through the middle, creating two halves.
Next, they put the right angled corner of the plastic triangle in the center of the cardboard and drew a perpendicular line, which divided the cardboard into quarters. If desired, students could further divide those quarters one more time by measuring the midpoint of each section.
WHEN THE LAYOUTS WERE COMPLETE, students sketched their designs onto the cardboard rounds. If they had an image they wanted to repeat, I gave them a piece of graphite transfer paper (which they thought was the coolest thing ever!).
After sketching, students chose the type of art media they wanted to use to add color. Most of them chose paint markers because of their bold colors. Some, however, preferred Sharpies, oil pastels or crayons. I like to give the students a menu of choices so they can use the materials they enjoy the most.
Once their designs were completely finished, students selected an inner-wheel spoke from the four shown on a handout. They cut out the image and used a glue stick to adhere it to the center of their cardboard round, where they had originally traced the plastic lid. At that point, they could leave it as-is or add color to it to make it stand out more.
TO COMPLETE THIS ASSIGNMENT, the children wrote artist statements about their Izzy Wheels that included the “What” (a description of their artwork), the “How” (how they created it, the tools and techniques they used, etc.), and the “Why” (the thinking behind and/or purpose of your artwork).
After reading many of the inspirational messages the kids had written, I realized that this lesson plan was a success not only because the kids produced some really great artwork, but also because it allowed the children to connect at an emotional level.
Upper-elementary students will …
• learn about Izzy Wheels: what they are and why they were created.
• be able to talk about an Izzy Wheel design using the elements and principles of art/design.
• create either an original realistic, abstract or non-objective design for their own Izzy Wheel.
• be able to discuss their final pieces using the elements and principles of art/design.
• CREATING: Refine and complete artistic work.
• PRESENTING: Develop and refine artistic techniques and work for presentation.
• RESPONDING: Perceive and analyze artistic work.
• CONNECTING: Relate artistic ideas and works with societal, cultural and historical context to deepen understanding.
• Handouts of four inner-wheel spoke designs
• 16-inch cardboard rounds with white coating on one side
• 4.5-inch plastic lids, 10-inch plastic drawing triangles
• 18-inch rulers
• Color media: crayons, markers, oil pastels, paint markers, etc.
• Transfer paper
• Glue sticks, scissors
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Anne M. Hoffman teaches art and is the secretary at Shabonee School in Northbrook, Illinois.
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