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.
What to Do …
“Drawing is still basically the same as it has been since prehistoric times. It brings together man and the world. It lives through magic.”—Keith Haring
May has arrived and it is soon the end of another wonderful school year. This month there is so much to celebrate. Besides Cinco de Mayo, Mother’s Day and Memorial Day, in May we celebrate Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, Jewish American Heritage Month, and of course National Teacher Appreciation Week. This month we will focus on 3D designs, murals, and collaborative projects.
3D White Foam Installations. Jennifer Pulliam, graphic design middle school teacher from Franklin Academy in Pembroke Pines, Florida, had many white foam cups hanging around her room, so she decided that she needed to have some kind of installation hanging in the school. She introduced her students to Cheeming Boey and his art cups. The kids went crazy with this idea and made superb designs using Sharpie® markers of all colors. When they were completed, she strung four or five together and hung them from the ceiling. She had about 30 lines of cups hanging at different levels.
Achieve The Weave. As we get to the end of the year, we want to start using up scraps of everything we have. Here is a great project for any grade level. All you need is paper plates and yarn, ribbon, pipe cleaners (or anything you can weave), and some markers or paint. Emily Deacon, also of Franklin Academy, had her fourth-graders paint bright backgrounds on paper plates with tempera. When dry, they cut slits around the edges of the plates about an inch deep. These slits were where the yarn went for the warp of the weaving. They then did a circular weaving using bright colored yarn.
A great way to display the weavings is by hanging them in a square or rectangle very close to each other. It makes for a beautiful mural. You can have your students make theirs even more three dimensional by weaving in branches, beads or buttons. Instead of painting the background, students can do a black and white Zentangle design and then weave with black, white and one primary color. There are many great combinations or themes you could use to make a cohesive mural/installation.
Junk? Not In The Art Room. We all know that nothing in the art room is junk. We keep everything because we might need it for a project we are going to do 20 years from now! A few years ago, I came upon a box of wood pieces, toilet paper and paper towel rolls, and shoe boxes. They were taking up too much space in my very small storage room. Hmm … what to do?
For about three weeks, I had my students bring in anything that was small and made from cardboard or wood. I received small jewelry boxes, clothes pins, old wooden toys, and an assortment of odds and ends. At the time I was working with elementary students, so I decided that I would spray paint all the items black.
Do you see what I see? But, of course: A giant Louise Nevelson sculpture! I had students glue pieces in any box they wanted. The final product, which they were very proud of, was about 4′ x 5′. We stapled and glued all the boxes together and displayed them in the main hallway of our school. The students also worked in groups to write about the artist and their experience working on the project.
What Do YOU Think Your Teacher Looks Like? To celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week, May, 7–11, divide your class into several groups and have each draw a picture together of their homeroom teacher. This is always a great gift to the teachers, even if they don’t look quite like them.
Bottle Caps. Another great mural idea is to create a picture using different color and size bottle/jar caps. This is a very easy project to do. The students can come up with an idea/theme for the project and then draw it on either a foam board or a thin piece of plywood (I recommend the plywood). Then they just glue the caps on to “paint” the picture.
Happy Birthday to Keith Haring (May 4, 1958), Salvador Dalí (May 11, 1904), Laura Wheeler Waring (May 16, 1877), and Mary Cassatt (May 22, 1844).
Thank you, Jennifer and Emily, for your thoughtful project ideas.
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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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