My 4th and 5th grade students created a freedom quilt square for their class quilts last year during Black History Month. We started out the project by reading The Patchwork Path: A Quilt Map to Freedom by Bettye Stroud, a powerful story of a girl and her father escaping slavery to freedom on the Underground Railroad. The designs on the freedom quilts were said to have secret messages, helping to guide and protect the slaves on their way to freedom. I gave each student a printout with some of the designs and their meanings and they chose their favorite to recreate as a paper collage. We discovered that the designs were very precise, using mostly squares and triangles that had to be laid out just right. It was a good way for the students to incorporate some of their math skills into the art room.
After they completed their quilt squares, each student wrote a poem or short descriptive story imagining what it would be like escaping to freedom. I wish I would have made some copies because some students truly had some thoughtful, beautiful words to share.
For my Kindergarten students’ quilt for Black History Month, they created a word quilt with the first letter of their names and an object or two that started with the same letter. We read Cassie’s Word Quilt by Faith Ringgold and the students had to be “word hunters”, finding as many words as they could that started with the same letter as their name. We noticed how the pages were bordered with different patterned quilt squares, so my K students also used the recycled book jacket covers to create their quilt borders.
Some of my students struggled coming up with objects that started with the first letter of their names, but once I gave them some ideas their imaginations took over. Some of their creativity really astounded me–If you look closely at the projects above, you’ll see the monster with a mohawk and a mummy for “M”, and the best one of all (and I didn’t even help him with this!!) a YETI for “Y”.
If I did this project again, I would have them create their letter and pictures on a smaller square, then glue that to the middle of the quilt square border. Some of their pictures ended up getting covered by the squares. Other than that, it was a great project that really got them thinking about their letters.
Continuing our school celebration of Black History Month last year, my 1st grade students created Faith Ringgold story quilts. We started off the lesson by watching a Reading Rainbow video of Tar Beach which also showed and explained a real “tar beach” in New York City to help my students better understand. We searched for shapes in the buildings and determined they were mostly made up of rectangles and squares. We noticed how the pages in the book were outlined with quilt squares as well, which we learned are created from fabric that have stories of their own to tell. Our school librarian was getting rid of boxes of colorful book jacket covers, so I cut those into squares for our story quilt border. After creating the border, students made a cityscape collage. Lastly, they imagined themselves flying and soaring on an adventure, then drew themselves to add to their collage. All individual collages were added together to create one large quilt for each class. I love the cape and bumblebee below.
One of my favorite quotes about Tar Beach by a student (after looking curiously at the board games pictured on a table on the roof in the story): “What are those for??”
Me: “Those are games to play for fun when the families hang out up there.”
Student: “What?! How do they get their tv up there?!”
Inspired by this Artsonia project.
To celebrate Black History Month last year at school, I wanted each grade level to create a collective class quilt, made up of individual squares created by the students. They were displayed during our schoolwide program and really made a statement.
For the 2nd and 3rd grade classes, we studied the colorful, graphic quilts of Gee’s Bend. I created a powerpoint showing examples of these unique quilts, focusing on the many different lines and colors found in each design, as well as their history. My students found it interesting that a lot of the quilts were sewn together using old scraps of clothing, which the artists felt helped to bring the spirits of their loved ones into their creations. We also read Stitchin’ and Pullin’: A Gee’s Bend Quilt, by Patricia McKissack. It’s a beautiful, poetic story of the tradition of the Gee’s Bend quilters through the eyes of a little girl, her family’s and community’s stories, as well as her ancestors’ struggle for freedom. My students were also amazed to hear how these talented women’s quilts were displayed in art museums around the world. Using this inspiration, they planned and designed a quilt square using different types of line patterns and bold colors. I taped each student’s quilt square into one large quilt to display. They all came together so well!
For this Kindergarten lesson, I introduced it pretty much the same as this Charley Harper inspired cardinal project my 2nd graders just did. The birds were simplified a bit differently, and the Kinders had to use their folding, cutting, and direction-following skills to turn their circles into a cardinal in flight. We viewed photos of actual birch bark, noticing how the texture was made up of many lines and was black and white in color. They used recycled cardboard pieces to print their birch texture paper. After cutting their paper into strips to create a forest, assembling their birds, and adding some snow dots, their bright and cheery cardinals were finished.
These are right outside the art room and I love looking at them each day! My little ones really worked hard on these.
Inspired by this project found on ARTASTIC! and an awesome art project seen at our annual district art show from my art teacher friend Julia’s talented kiddos.
I love the message one of my 3rd grade students drew across the top of his painting–it goes so well with the history of Vincent Van Gogh.
In my 5th year of teaching art, this was actually the first time I did a Starry Night painting project. They turned out so well. I used Google Art Project to introduce my students to Van Gogh’s most famous painting. It was helpful to be able to zoom in up close and see Van Gogh’s thick, painterly brushstrokes. We also viewed this mesmerizing video of the Starry Night in motion, which once again highlighted his many pronounced brushstrokes. Apparently it’s also interactive on an ipad, something I’d love to have my students play with for a future lesson. Students practiced making small lines with their oil pastels in Van Gogh’s style. The starry background was created this first class.
The second class, we read The Starry Night, by Neil Waldman, a book about a young boy going on a painting adventure through modern day New York City with Van Gogh. All illustrations are done in his style and it fit in great for the lesson. Students then painted a watercolor resist over their backgrounds.
The last class, I read The House in the Night by Susan Marie Swanson, a Caldecott Medal-winning book. It was the perfect intro to adding our village silhouette details, as the illustrations are simple black and white textured silhouettes with bright golden light details. There’s even a painting of the Starry Night in the girl’s bedroom, a nice surprise pointed out by one of my observant students! After adding their villages, the maserpieces were complete! They are all so great.
Inspired by this beautiful art project on Artsonia.
5th grade students viewed a youtube video showing photos of famous rose windows from around the world. We discussed the technique used to create a large stained glass window and spent the first day preparing a white paper with many overlapping colors of tissue paper, giving the effect of stained glass. The second class, students reviewed radial designs and how they always radiate or come out from the middle. After careful planning and sketching, they cut their prepared papers into shapes for their rose window designs.
Inspired by this project seen on Flickr.