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.
“People ask me, ‘Don’t you ever run out of ideas?’ Well, on the first place, I don’t use ideas. Every time I have an idea, it’s too limiting and usually turns out to be a disappointment. But I haven’t run out of curiosity.” — Robert Rauschenberg
Happy fall! By now you should be settled in your rooms and your students should be making some great art. Our focus this month will be on collage, great ideas for early finishers and projects for substitute teachers.
Color and Collage: A Great Marriage. Both Jeanne Anderson from Roosevelt Elementary in Mankato, Minn., and Karen Mohammed from Eagle Ridge Elementary in Coral Springs, Fla., had similar ideas for their third-grade students. Jeanne’s students reviewed Kandinsky’s Color Study: Squares with Concentric Circles (1913) and saw how he used different color relationships. Karen’s lesson was inspired by geometric and organic shapes, and the collage art of Henri Matisse.
Both teachers only gave their students the primary colors to work with. Jeanne’s students painted 16 primary colored boxes on a page, then the secondary/intermediates were added later. Neutrals were next, all with only primary colors. Then, on a 6″ x 6″ piece of paper students painted whatever colors/design they wanted, knowing they would later collage and cover parts of it.
Karen’s students first painted two pieces of paper each the contrast of the other. Another suggestion was to paint one with warm colors and the other in cool colors. Students had an open-ended choice on how they painted the two paper surfaces.
Both projects were completed with students collaging their papers. The requirements for Jeanne’s students were to show contrast and to layer three colors in at least one place. They could make it 3D, go off the edge, and use other supplies—recycled aluminum was popular!
Karen’s students were given time to sketch out an idea or theme for their painted collages. She coached students on overlapping and concentric shapes. Students were also coached on good gluing skills (craftsmanship).
Sponge Bob? NO!! Sponge Glue! Cynthia Gaub from North Middle School in Everett, Wash., has come up with the best tip for collaging with just inexpensive tools that you can get at the dollar store!
A small kitchen sponge and a plastic storage container is all you need. With the sponge in the container, pour white liquid glue over the top until the container is filled half way up the sponge. Adding a splash of peppermint mouthwash to both helps to thin out the glue and keep it from molding. Plus, it smells great! Flip the sponge a couple times to mix in the mouthwash and cover both sides of the sponge. Pop on the lid and label it.
Next, teach kids how to use it. When they are ready to glue down a piece of paper they lay the neatly cut image on the top of the sponge, wrong side down. The sponge never comes out of the container! They tap the good side of the paper with a fingertip lightly to adhere all edges to the sponge, then slowly lift off. The paper will have a perfect thin, even layer of glue that goes edge to edge that is ready to lay down on their paper.
FOR THE SUB. Here are a few great substitute lessons from Cheryl Maney, the Visual Arts and Dance Curriculum Specialist at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in Charlotte, N.C.:
• If you can get a print or digital image of one (or all) of Norman Rockwell’s “April Fool” covers for the Saturday Evening Post (April 3, 1943, March 31, 1945 and April 1, 1948), there are dozens of items wrong in the pictures. Students love to find the items that are wrong and make a list.
• Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s Children’s Games, 1560, is another one where they can list all the games they see being played. (They might not recognize some of them so this is a great connection with the P.E. teacher for historical games).
• Cartoons: Create posters of body parts—arms, legs, torsos, hair, eyes, eyebrows, noses, mouths, etc. Students can “assemble” their own cartoon characters. Extension: Create a four-panel cartoon.
Alternative: Give them jokes or riddles. The students draw one/two panel cartoons of people or animals telling the joke or riddle. They can add illustrations of the joke or riddle as well.
Happy birthday to Frederic Remington (Oct. 4, 1861), Faith Ringgold (Oct. 8, 1930), Peter Max (Oct. 19, 1937), Robert Rauschenberg (Oct. 22, 1925), Walt Kuhn (Oct. 27, 1877), and Niki de Saint Phalle (Oct. 29, 1930).
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.
If you would like to share some of your teaching tips, email them to: