Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Black Cat Black Cat

"Black catblack cat, we want to know / where's your home, where do you go?" This questioning refrain is repeated in the poetic and gently haunting story Black Cat by Christopher Myers. It's a wonderful book and literacy connection that introduces my 1st graders to the mysterious world of an urban dwelling black cat. The book introduces or revisits new words such as roam and cityscape vs. landscape, nocturnal, pattern, texture and design.

After reading book and figuring out that the Black Cat makes his home everywhere he roams, the students paint their black cat in paint. Since we've already covered the concept that shapes and lines can make a cat by drawing a black cat in ur previous lesson, we extend those ideas to our painting. Here's a simple power point I created about black cats.

After they dry we cut them out.

Did you know that some cats have very curly tails?

After the cats are freed from their paper...we revisit the Black Cat's environment. We discover that we can see many interesting details in the Black Cat's world of the story. I created a power point here that can help generate conversation about patterns, design and texture that can be found in cityscapes.

Then the kids create a collage cityscape using newspaper and oil pastels.

Then we glue down our own Black Cat...to roam...and roam.

Friday, March 22, 2013

March Comes in Like a Lion...

March seems like a fine time to create Lions, in paintings, drawings and clay figurines. My 2nd graders love to learn about lions and have much of their own information about them to share via the many wildlfe shows on cable. I let them know that when I was a kid we had one show: Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom. As great as it was, that was it. Marlin Perkins, now there's a gem. There are plenty of great video clips of lions in the wild to show students to get them prepared - altho it doesn't take much-kids are naturally fascinated by the beauty, power, grace and pride of lions already!

Starting in Kindergarten we learn how to draw figures of people and animals by putting shapes together. So by 2nd grade most of my students are pretty comfortable trying their hand at a drawing of a lion in sharpie & crayon, and then painting in watercolors.

I always like to add a literature connection to most of my lessons especially with the lower grades (K-3). I have a couple of fun vintage stories about lions I like to share with my kids. One I especially like is called LION by William Pene DuBois which won the Caldecott Medal in 1957.  It's a charming, quirky story that is great as a read-aloud (I love to do funny voices when I read it). It is a fantasy "origin story" about an angelic artist in some sort of celestial workshop of designers responsible for the different characteristics of animals. It's pretty hilarious, the illustrations are fantastic and in the end it's really about celebrating the beauty of art and design in nature.

After the drawing and painting, we are very comfortable with the form of a lion in 2-D and can move on to creating one of our own in clay.

I use the pinching technique with this age-group--pinching out the head, legs, tail-instead of attaching- but I do discuss how to successfully add and attach pieces of clay, as well. Sometimes we use air-dry clay (above, below) with watercolor paint and gloss medium glaze. If my kiln seems cooperative, we'll make them with kiln-fire clay and glaze. They are all beloved by the kids. As they move on to older grades they always reminisce about the lion they made in 2nd grade.

The Lion: King & Queen of the Art Studio! We're all "lion-arted" now!