Beyond Roy G. Biv

Beyond Roy G. Biv
Adventures from an organized Art Room

Friday, April 11, 2014

5 Tips to Get Started WEAVING

Weaving is, by far, one of my most favorite lessons of the year! Once the kids get the rhythm of it, they love it too!

Here are my top 5 tips to try weaving for your next lesson:

1. Invest in good quality cardboard looms with wide-notches.
Kids can get frustrated if the process seems too tricky or takes too long to master. Good quality looms make a world of difference in their frustration level. I often overhear, "This is easier than it looks." when I use the "good" looms. I've had some of my looms for over 10 years, and they still look and work great!

2. Teach students the correct vocabulary from the beginning: loom, warp, weft, weaving.
Having them learn and apply art vocabulary is a great confidence booster in the Art Room. And its always fun when they know words that their parents don't!

3. Pre-cut your strings.
I have small plastic boxes filled with pre-cut and pre-sorted strings. This makes the process of picking out new strings so much faster, so they can get back to their weaving, as quickly as possible.

4. Have them check their weavings with you on a regular basis.

On the first day of weaving, they can choose 4 strings. When they are done with those strings, they have to visit me at a designated table and we have to check for "oops strings" - those strings that wanted to go over or under, but...OOPS...they went the wrong way!
On day two, we up the number to 6 and they are THRILLED! On day three, they can weave 8 strings before they visit me, but if they see one of those "oops strings" before they visit me, they can try to fix it themselves. And let me tell you, they are so proud when they figure out where a mistake is before I do! :-)

5. Make a few weavings yourself to understand the process and to have examples of many pattern possibilities.

In the beginning, we talk a lot about two-color patterns, like red-blue-red-blue. But as they weave more, they get ambitious. Maybe a three-color pattern, like red-white-blue-red-white-blue or red-red-red-white-white-white-blue-blue-blue, or maybe a six color pattern like the color wheel, or even a pattern that repeats with ANOTHER pattern! Their ideas are endless, but if you have some examples already made, you can easily show them what a pattern may look like ahead of time.

My 2nd graders are excellent weavers and you can see all their pieces in our Artsonia gallery.

And in the words of Journey, "Keep on be-weave-ing"!

Monday, March 24, 2014

BEFORE the Art Show!

This year, our school participated in the "One School, One Book" program and our entire school read Charlotte's Web. So, for the annual Art Show, each grade level's project was inspired by a quote from the book. Now that all the projects are winding down, I thought I'd share with you what it looks like BEFORE the show!

Piles, piles and more piles
All my students' names are in an Excel document so I just set up a mail merge and run "Business Cards" through the printer for easy name tags. As each class finishes a project, I photograph them for Artsonia and staple the name tag in the corner. As everything gets finalized, they go in great big piles (which I still believe is a perfectly fine organizational strategy!)

Rolls, rolls and more rolls of paper
Our building has a good-sized length of cork strip outside every classroom for displays. I went around one year and measured them all (BIG JOB...but I only had to do it once! WHEW!). Now, I have a nice map that tells me that Room 104 has 23', Room 106 has 21' and Room 312 has 14'. Granted, it would be a whole lot easier if everyone had the same length, but...
Anyway, once I know the length and color scheme I want for each cork strip, I roll out hundreds of feet of colored paper so it is ready to have artwork taped and stapled to it later in the week.

Announcements, announcements and more announcements
Now, the fun part! I love getting the students excited for the show and getting the word out to our families and our community. This little piggy is from my main bulletin board and I added a thought bubble above him to countdown to the Art Show. I've also posted things on our Twitter account and our school's parent newsletter. Our principal has posted the info on our school's Facebook page and teacher's have put the invitation in their classroom newsletters. 
I think I've got every avenue covered!

Can't wait to post pictures of the actual event! Stay tuned!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Don't Judge a Box By Its Cover

According to our district curriculum, our sixth graders should be "exposed to researching an artist, an art style or art movement". Since I don't want to GRADE traditional research papers, I don't have them WRITE them! For the last few years, we've done these art history boxes and I've been very happy with the results.

First, we start off with a PowerPoint into to the -isms of art history: Realism, Impressionism, Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism, etc. It's a lot of me talking and them taking notes and I don't usually like "lecturing" to my classes, but I find for this kind of content, it's necessary. It's fun to see them recognize a lot of what we talk about because of all their years of Artist the Week presentations. They know more than they think they know!

Then, they choose a book from my Art Library. I really like the Mike Venezia series, Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists. At last count, I had over 40 different titles, so the kids have quite a few to pick from. I also let them use the Know the Artist posters. I order most of my art supplies and these kinds of books and posters from United Art & Education, but they are readily available in all sorts of catalogs.

Once they have chosen their artist, they get to work finding out basic biographical information: full name, birth year, death year, place of birth, style of art. And then through their research, they have to find at least a few interesting facts to include in their final write-up.

They also make a colored pencil reproduction of one of their artist's pieces of art. I really try to have them focus on the accuracy of the composition and recreating the colors and texture in the piece. When 6th graders look at famous works of art, they don't fully appreciate the work that goes into it, but when they have to recreate it, I find they have a better understanding of what the original artist had to go through to make the piece great. 

The last step is painting the cardboard box (which is called a "White Craft Box" and is about 4 1/2"x 4 3/4") with acrylics, using ModPodge to attach the recreation to the outside lid and the gluing the typed facts to the inside off the box. 

At the end of it all, my students have a piece of functional sculpture, a detailed colored pencil drawing, and a deeper knowledge base and appreciation of art history. They have also incorporated reading, writing, research, and technology. This project gives me a lot of bang for my buck and is one of my favorite lesson plans - I hope you give it a try!

~ Amy

Monday, February 17, 2014

3rd Grade - Watercolor Landscapes

I have a beautifully simple watercolor project to share with you. I did this with 3rd grade, used watercolor paper and Prang watercolors (which are my favs).

We had just finished a project with background, middleground and foreground, so they were very familiar with horizon lines. Using their paintbrush, they painted the top inch (or so) of their paper with a color, moved down another inch or so, chose another color and made a different shaped horizon line. They repeated this (new color/new horizon line) until they got to the bottom of the paper.

The following week, we RIPPED up their beautiful paintings! They were a bit shocked at this announcement, to say the least!! As they ripped their paintings into strips and glued the pieces to a colored piece of construction paper, they were careful to overlap each strip a little bit so show the white paper edge. Each one is so unique - just like my students!

Enjoy the rest of the pieces on our Artsonia Gallery!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Digital Learning Day 2014

A few years back, I earned an iPad through our Artsonia funds. While one iPad isn't ideal for an entire school, or even an entire class, we seem to be making it work. So, in honor of Digital Learning Day on February 5, here are some examples of our digital learning:

I'm always looking for other ways to use our iPad, so leave a suggestion in the comments!  Thanks!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

It's Conference Day!

So excited to participate in professional development, focused on the needs of art educators, and all while sipping coffee in my pajamas! Can't wait to see what the day brings!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

"Best Art Room Storage Solutions"

Storage Room Solution
Over at the Art of Education, Jessica asked readers to share their "most savvy shortcut to art room storage." Well, I don't know about savvy, but it's a system that works for me.

I inherited these boxes when I started teaching and have grown to love them. They have lids which means they stack really well and they have handles built in, so even when they have heavy contents, they are easy to lift and move around the room. And if I ever need more, they are relatively cheap and easy to find at any big box store. When our school underwent a large renovation and my storage room had to be redesigned, I chose to keep these boxes because they work so well.

Last summer, I spent some time (too much time, if I'm being honest) making color-coded labels for each box. Each color is a category (drawing, painting, printmaking, etc.) and each box is labeled with its contents. This works really well because I know what I have and where it goes - and that seems pretty savvy to me!

Happy organizing!