Tried & True Tips for Art Teachers is a monthly roundup of advice and wisdom
from fellow art teachers, put together by the intrepid Glenda Lubiner.
Wrap It All Up!
“Kids are naturally gifted at art from a very young age. The problem is when they get older and become self-conscious. The process should always be fun, though.”— Damien Hirst
We did it! It’s June and we made it through another year of new faces, old faces, ups, downs, crayons, paint, glue, and clay. Now it’s time to wrap it all up, clean up your room, take inventory of what you need for next year, and close the door on another successful creative year.
If you are like me, you have a lot of piles, bags, boxes, and crates of leftover scraps from the year that you don’t want to throw out … because you might use them sometime in the next 20 years! Well, the end-of-the-year cleanup is a good time to use up some of those scraps. Here are some ideas for ending the year on a high note.
Lost and Found. One thing sixth-graders love, says art teacher Laurie Wennemar, from Haines Middle School in St. Charles, Illinois, is the found-object project. She gives each table a box of assorted items that consists of scraps from the year: wire, wood, paper, broken toys, small pieces of tooling foil, plastic spoons, cups, cool things found at different thrift stores and garage sales, etc.
Some kids get glue, others get tape, and some get string—so they must think about how to use materials in new ways. They can only use what is in the box, so as a team, they must collaborate.
This project can also be tied into a Louise Nevelson project. I did one when I taught elementary school. The students glued their objects in a shoe box then painted it all black. This project can be modified to middle or high school as well.
(Be sure to check out our April 2017 issue. Laurie’s student, Caroline Gendron, is the featured Young Artist. Congratulations to you both!—Editor)
Elementary Aliens. Outer space and aliens are always exciting for our elementary students … hence, our imaginations go into full gear and off to outer space the kids go. The students first painted a very colorful outer space background. They then took scrap construction paper, folded it half, drew half their alien and cut it out. By doing this they were creating symmetrical form. The students then added facial features, clothes and planets in the background keeping the whole picture symmetrical. This is a fun end-of-the-year project that uses up a lot of scraps in the room.
Mat Board Masterpieces. Middle-school and high-school students can use leftover mat board of any size or color to create some incredible painted or drawn masterpieces. The students will be challenged with odd sizes and shapes of mat board. This will make them think outside of the square or rectangle box. Have them use some non-traditional materials as well, to make their artwork even more interesting.
Huichol Art. Huichol art is traditional folk art produced by the Huichol people of Mexico. These are yarn paintings that can also be decorated with beads. Students of all ages can draw their design on a heavy cardboard or mat board. The next step is to paint white glue on one shape at a time and add colored yarn in a contoured parallel line design to fill in the shape.
Trash to Treasure Runway. My favorite end-of-the-year project I do every year during the last week of school is my version of Project Runway. The students, grouped in twos or threes, are given a theme and they must use whatever they can find in the boxes of “stuff” ready for the trash, to create clothing, or accessories. I usually give them a day or two to complete this task then we have a fashion show. We create a runway in the classroom (we did it in the hallway once) and the kiddos walk the catwalk using their best model walk. This is always a fun day that the kids love … it is a day full of laughter and good times.
Happy birthday to Raoul Dufy (June 3, 1877), Damien Hirst (June 7, 1965), M. C. Escher (June 17, 1898), Magdalena Abakanowicz (June 20, 1930), and Antoni Gaudi (June 25, 1852).
Thank you, Laurie for your great tip. I wish everyone a great summer break. Be creative, reflective, and get some rest. Don’t forget to make some art of your own, as we rarely get the time during the school year. And, most important (if I do say so myself): don’t forget to keep those tips coming! Please send them to me at [email protected]
Arts & Activities Contributing Editor Glenda Lubiner (NBCT) teaches art at Franklin Academy Charter School in Pembroke Pines, Fla. She is also an adjunct professor at Broward College.
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