Classes have been busy this spring exploring our IB units in depth. 4th graders were learning about animals’ use of mimicry and camouflage as a means of survival in their homerooms. To begin our unit, we watched this great video about animal camo. We viewed different animal patterns up close and students had to choose an animal with a distinctive design or texture for their projects. After printing off reference photos, students got busy on their practice drawings, trying to make their animals as realistic as possible. Once confident they had their best, students transferred their drawings onto the scratch art paper. We learned different scratching techniques with the stylus tool to help represent the texture of the animal’s fur or skin. For the finishing touch, students recreated their animal’s pattern with oil pastels for a border, again trying to use blending and coloring techniques to represent that texture. Students were very focused and engaged while working the entire quarter on this project! The results are absolutely amazing.
4th grade students studied the Cubist paintings created my Swiss artist Paul Klee, focusing in on his Rose Garden masterpiece in particular. We discovered that in the Cubist style of painting, the artist uses lines to break up the picture plane into many different angles. Students took this inspiration to make a design using heart stencils they created and then drew over using horizontal, vertical, and diagonal lines. Each newly created space was then colored in with crayon and painted over with liquid watercolor in a wax resist style.
Inspired by this lesson from A Faithful Attempt.
My 4th Grade students focused on the zebra for their African Unit lesson. To start off the project, we viewed many photographs and read some facts about the zebra from the San Diego Zoo website. They were fascinated to find out that their stripes help to confuse predators while in a large group. We also had to go on a fact-finding mission to answer the age-old question: “White with black stripes or black with white stripes??”. Turns out both are true!
Armed with this background information, students jumped right into their practice drawings, using a guide to give them confidence. It’s kind of funny that they all ended up facing the same direction, but each one does have their own personality! Students were so connected throughout the project and took great pride in their final drawings.
Lastly, we studied the characteristics of the zebra habitat, the savannah. We studied many photos of the landscape, noticing how there are many layers and textures found in a savannah. In order to give the illusion of depth, students cut different colors of paper to create grass, hills, and mountains. Beforehand, students used rubbing plates to create textures on their papers to create more interest. The final projects are so striking.
Inspired by these colorful zebra projects found on MaryMaking.
We recently held our all school Spring Art Show for students and their families. I displayed our latest projects plus a sampling of the wonderful artwork created throughout the year. Every child had at least one piece of artwork on display. The PTA and many of my awesome colleagues helped with an Ice Cream Social that night as well, which really seemed to bring in tons of families. My principal has been really trying to get our families more involved in the school and it was great to see such a huge turnout for our art night. Enjoy some more photos from the big night!
I have done this Georgia O’Keeffe flower lesson the last two years with my 4th grade students. We start out the lesson by viewing a Powerpoint showcasing some of O’Keeffe’s flower paintings as well as interesting facts about her life, including that she was born right here in Wisconsin. We discover how she wanted to paint flowers big so that even busy people would stop to notice their beauty and intricate detail. Some of my favorite books to share about O’Keeffe during this unit are:
I also laminated a huge stack of flower photographs (recycled junk mail from a seed catalog!) for reference as they began their first sketches. This was a great way to bring in some science. The main goal of the lesson was to zoom in on the flower, making sure to capture each tiny detail as inspired by O’Keeffe’s style. Students drew their final flowers with pencil on black 12 x 12 paper, outlining their drawings with glue. Once the glue dried, we reviewed O’Keeffe’s paintings, noticing how smoothly her colors blended, often using monochromatic tints and shades. Students tried creating this effect by coloring thickly with similar shades of their chosen color using oil pastels. Check out all their details–what a success!
Last year my 4th graders created these texture collage polar bears inspired by this artwork by artist Ryan Fowler. I liked the variation in texture on his polar bear print and wanted to give my students a chance to explore different collage and painting techniques. After viewing Fowler’s artwork and a Powerpoint with interesting polar bear facts and photos of both the bears and their habitat, students got to work creating their textured papers. On a light blue piece of construction paper, students brushed a glue mixture over ripped and crumpled pieces of white tissue paper to create a rough texture.
The second class, students used a brayer to roll white paint over their textured paper. On a second sheet of turquoise paper, they rolled blue, purple, and light blue paint for the background, to represent the cool colors found in the polar bear habitat. I encouraged them to go with the process of rolling paint, allowing some of the paper to show through to create variation. This especially helped bring out the texture on the prepared light blue paper. Lastly, we reviewed Fowler’s print and discussed how to create a simplified, stylized polar bear. Each one seemed to have a personality as the students added the details. They turned out great!
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.