Tag Archives: children and art

Collaborative Art Making with Rangoli

“Saal Mubarak to All! May your new year be filled with good health, happiness and love”.
I was inspired by this proclamation recently shared via social media by a friend and colleague. What came next was a collaborative art making activity that gave students the opportunity to explore symmetry and design as well as promote cultural awareness.

fifth grade Rangoli

This time of year many celebrate Diwali, the Hindu New Year. The colleague and friend I mentioned above gave a meaningful presentation to our lower school on Diwali this past week. We learned that one of the traditions of this festival of lights is making Rangoli and placing your creation at your doorstep to greet and welcome visitors to your home.

rangoli w/color frame

After learning so much about Diwali, we were inspired to create our own Rangoli in the art studio. Traditionally colored sand and glitters are used to create these symmetrical assemblages, but we decided to use nature (and a few artist-made objects too).

forest mandala

Students worked collaboratively to construct their designs. We discussed the Quaker Decision-Making Process and were reminded that EVERYONE has a voice and that it is our role to make sure we all have the opportunity to share our ideas. We discussed how the group is stronger than the individual and that communicating with each other will help the art making experience to be productive and positive for all involved.

placement is key

I heard students discuss which materials to use and where to place them. Objects were re-arranged to compromise the groups design choices. Young artists were motivated to make this a fun and successful activity and positive thoughts and compliments were bursting like fireworks.

In the midst of it all I heard a student share this anecdote : “We all work together on it and that’s the best part.”

nature assemblage

After our assemblages were complete, we took the time to reflect on our efforts and share with the class. We shared our process, revealed hidden meanings and asked questions to clarify ideas.

caran d'ache mandala

The next day, we discussed the mathematics behind forming a symmetrical design. We began in the center and added lines and shapes around the center in an outward motion to expand our design. We shared strategies for maintaining the symmetry in our design.

caran d'ache rangoli

We chose a family of colors to bring our design to life and thought about how they could help support our need for symmetry in our Rangoli design.

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THINKING ABOUT THE ART PROCESS:
Why would a square piece of paper be a good choice to create a circular design on?
What colors would you include in your design?
What image would you place in the center of your design?
What does your Rangoli design say about you as an artist/thinker?

Saal Mubarak to All!
-Ms. Allegra

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Signs of Spring

The philosophy of any Visual Arts program that I lead is grounded in the belief that each child possess a resource of natural creativity waiting to be explored, expanded, and refined. As educators, it is our goal to nurture that creativity through our motivational dialogue, classroom environment and, of course, a selection of art materials that are appropirate for transforming our ideas into a reality.

What does it mean to observe? A few weeks ago, I discussed with my students how drawings can be created with our imagination, they can be based on observation, or they can be a little mix of both. Students were asked to spend a significant amount of looking deeply at the forsythia to discover its shape, size, color and any patterns that make up the tall, thin arrangement.

This is a selection from a post on an arts blog that I started on my schools website. For the whole article via a direct link, click here.

Artfully,

Mary Jo

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Knowledge = Exploration x Experience

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Education is a natural process carried out by the child and is not acquired by listening to words but by experiences in the environment. Maria Montessori

In the photo above, a 4 year-old child explores geometric forms after discussing the art of Wassily Kandinsky. During Art, children learned about his passion for music, his love of the arts and his desire to unite the two in harmony through color and form. Students continued to work over their collage the following class with watercolor while listening to music composed of a gentle and calm melody.

Maybe my mathematical formula will be fancied by the DOE. Let’s keep the Arts alive.

After all, the earth without “art” is just “eh”.

I enjoy what I do. -MJ

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Happiness is…

being an ART teacher.
Mrs. Hammond

-Given by a friend and great collaborator back in my days at Columbia U. What are you up to these days, Ms. Coyne?

Enjoy,
MJ

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The Falling Leaves: A Rekindled Love of Autumn

You can try and call my bluff but I can’t remember a year in my life where I have been so head over heels for the nature and colors that make up the autumn season. As a child, the fall meant the end of summer and the start of a new school year hence homework and high-anxiety Sunday nights; I think many can relate. This year, however, holds so much more.

After exiting my car in the early morning and walking through the concrete parking lot, my eyes are distracted by the intense colors that cover the ground. Vibrant reds, fire oranges, intense yellows and that shade of lime that strikes a cord in my heart, sprinkle the earth in pointy geometric shapes. I collect a large quantity and use them for art making and nature explorations in the classroom wherever it supports my curriculum.

Early Childhood artists have been observing the fall colors and singing about the actions they perform in nature during the autumn. I play the xylophone to a simple melody and sing a song I wrote that was inspired by my rekindled love of this colorful season. Children are mezmorized by the gentle high-pitched sound of this musical toy and easily follow along in song and hand gestures.

Listen to the leaves (rest) falling from the trees

                                 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5  they touch the ground                            (hands are held up high then slowly fall to the ground)

Yellow, orange, green (rest) red and brown

fall colors (rest) cover the ground

With the help of the collection of leaves I found earlier that morning, we have a visual, tangable resource to inspire our art. We discuss the colors and shapes we see and notice that not each leaf is the same shape. Some have three points, others have 5 and this one has, let’s count: 15! As a supporter of Inquiry-Based learning, my learning objectives are to challenge students to observe, analyze and make connections. Therefore, my questions do not have “yes” or “no” answers. Rather than ask “what shape is this leaf?” I ask “what do you notice about the shape of this leaf?”. This allows every student to feel comfortable to share their ideas and also opens up the discussion for an endless amount of creative possibilities.

I offer a limited palette when creating collage, painting, and drawing during these fall art explorations. Brown paper is the ground and the space where we collage our falling leaves. Colored tissue triangles are the leaves that are fragile and pointy. Yellow and Red can be mixed to recreate the various orange hues that dress the fall leaves and are painted with patterns that mimic the motion of leaves touching the ground. Oil pastels can illustrate the falling leaves. I make an effort to ask the students about the shapes and lines I notice in their compositions and write their direct quote in small, neat pencil at the bottom of their drawing. The product is not my concern, rather a positive experience with the art process and the connection they make to the content determines my material choice and activity structure. Once you have an objective in mind (a goal for what you want students to learn and become aware of), format and plan your learning experiences to achieve your goal.

Elementary artists are introduced to contour drawing with the help of the various types of leaves I collect that morning. Note that leaves don’t last longer than a day inside so my collections were frequent and fresh for each art experience (if time is on your side, a quick trip outside will allow students to scan the local harvest and choose a selection of inspiring material). Students carefully observe the curves, dips and sharp angles that form the edges of the soft delicate forms and use black felt-tip pens to draw their observations. Students soon noticed the texture found on the underside of the leaves and inquired about what they saw. We discussed how veins bring nutrients to all areas of a leaf’s surface and made a connection to the veins in our own bodies and discussed how they carry blood and oxygen to every part of our body. Texture was further explored through leaf prints using black ink on white paper. Students discovered so much more about the details and patterns found in leaves when they observed the textures that the process of relief printing offered to the naked eye.

What other material would be able to display the textures found in a leaf? Students pressed leaves into clay with the help of a rolling pin and carefully lifted the pointed subject. A beautiful impression was left in the clay and students were motivated to use a clay knife to follow the contours of the leaf and cut out its elaborate shape. Colored underglazes can be used after a bisque firing to make these hard-to-see details more prominent. See the link for clay relief below. At the end of the class period, students had made at least three clay reliefs and joined them together to form a fall inspired sculptural work of art.

Are you inspired to bring nature inside for a creative artmaking experience? If so, view the list below for a selection of engaging and meaningful hands on learning.

Autumn Inspired Art Experiences (and the necessary materials)

Leaf printing (ink, brayer, paper)

Contour Leaf Drawing (any drawing material, paper)

Leaf rubbings (crayon, oil pastel, chalk pastel, paper)

Leaf prints in clay (clay, rolling pin, clay knives, colored underglaze, clear gloss glaze) learn more here.

Leaf collage (liquid glue, paper, be sure to vary the size and shape of leaves, literary resource: Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert)

And if you crave direct contact with a human being to answer your questions, as do I, feel free to email me anytime at sunporchartstudio@gmail.com .

Have a crisp, cool, windy yet COLORFUL day! (and why not finish it off with a mug of hot cider)

-MJ

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The Language of Learning: Talking To Your Child About Their Art

img_4479For young children, art making is a primary means of expression. It is how they are able to share stories and it is how they reflect on their experiences to better understand their world. As a parent and teacher, it is often the adult’s responsibility to foster their interest as an artist and help them to grow as a well-rounded, happy individual.


Let’s explore ways to make art experiences enjoyable and productive.

OBSERVE AND LISTEN WITHOUT JUDGEMENT
When engaging in art activities with your child, study how they work and look for strategic placement of lines, shapes and objects. Look for gestural strokes of the brush and how they chose to use tools and materials. Notice their working habits and talk to them about it as they work. This builds their vocabulary and also helps them to be a mindful and reflective artist. Art Note: If you down for a big clean up, allow children to explore painting on their own before offering appropriate tool use. They may even teach you a new way to engage with a material. I have songs and phrases that help my students practice skillful tool use. I love to match a phrase or a direction to song or simple tune. I find the students retain much more because they repeat back the tune and the words that go with it. Humans are inherent music lovers and respond well to tonal changes in your voice.

ENGAGE A DISCUSSION BASED ON YOUR OBSERVATIONS
When you notice specific colors or shapes in your child’s art, tell them what you see: “I notice straight lines moving out from your circle.” Or “This blue line travels up and across your page and ends in the opposite corner.” Trace your finger over the object you are describing. This will not only give them vocabulary to use but will also let them know that you value their art, which is an important component in building self-efficacy. If you are ever unsure as to what your child’s art represents, simply say “Tell me about your drawing/painting/clay sculpture/etc.”. You should avoid asking “What is that?” because, for a young child, it may not BE anything but a visual expression of a kinesthetic experience of paint, brush and paper. Furthermore, and also with older children, this question has the potential to infer that their attempt at clearly expressing a story has failed. Again if you are unsure, look for marks, colors and/or figures and construct a question that is focused around what stands out to you: “I see many energetic green lines in the center of your page. Can you tell me more about that?”

If you would like to prompt a new way to create or a new use of color, make a suggestion like: “Wow, you have a large collection of red circles nested close to each other over here. Would you like to add more detail over there?” “You seem to enjoy painting with yellow; how about rinsing and exploring some blue paint?”

DSC01027PROCESS AND PRODUCT
When your older child brings home a finished work of art, engage them in a discussion about the goals they had while developing their idea, if it changed throughout the process and if they believe they met their goal in the end. Ask them if they faced any challenges and, if so, what strategies they used to work through them. Talking through the art process allows the artist to reflect on their actions which has many benefits. The act of reflecting gives us perspective, helps us to learn from our mistakes, allows us to generate new ideas and also makes us aware of our strengths and how we may share them with others. As parents and teachers who engage in reflective discussions with children, we also discover so much about their work habits, passions and even challenges that we may not have know by simply viewing the work. As the viewer, at times, we may place too much emphasis on the end product and what it looks like. Yes, the visual arts are well known for beautifying our living spaces. However, for the artist, the process, or the act of dreaming, designing and creating, is what they are most passionate about and why they persevere. “Every picture tells a story, don’t it?” Let’s discover what each work of art holds inside.

NURTURING A GROWTH MINDSET
I will often lead a discussion about the power of positive thinking with my students where I talk about the plasticity of the brain. I tell them about an article I read in TIME magazine that proves how our brain can be affected by something as inconspicuous as a simple thought. Read the article here. I elaborate on how a negative thought can have an impact on our performance just as a positive thought can be a helpful motivation. I explain that if we say to ourselves “I can’t do it, I can’t do it” over and over, our brain will actually not be able to fulfill the task. We failed because we told our brain to fail. However, positive thoughts, affirmations and motivating words will help us achieve success. Taking small steps that lead to a complex finished piece will help form an enjoyable art experience and empower us to take on new challenges.

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Nurturing Creativity at Home

As an artist I get excited over colors and shapes and am inspired by many things that I encounter each day. I can easily say that I am an art teacher at heart because I yearn to share my excitement with others and would rather dream up ways to share it through art experiences that will build creative knowledge, skill, and confidence, than make a personal work of art. Paint the Rainbow is a phrase that my daughter often says out of the blue. It always makes me smile and opens me up to life’s possibilities. On this blog you will find artistic endeavors for you and your children to take part in, engaging art materials, special tips for set-up and clean-up and what happens in between. Learn new recipes for artistic fun that are not cookie cutter or product based but focused on exploration and grounded in sensory based learning.

Exploration is how creative discoveries begin to blossom. Don’t be afraid to get messy. Lay down an old sheet or vinyl tablecloth before setting up shop. This will make for an easy clean-up as well as less stress about material use while playing. If you are nervous about getting messy, your child will sense that energy which may interfere with their natural curiosity. A homemade smock can be made with an old t-shirt or a men’s dress shirt buttoned in the back with the sleeves cut at the elbow.

I often catch myself concerned with the way my child chooses to manipulate the materials at hand. My instinct is to change her movements to the way I know to be “correct”. I have made a conscious effort to simply notice how children use the tools and then use that knowledge to direct how I set up and lead an activity to help them be successful. I go through a filtering process before intervening in the activity. Here is how I see it: When your child asks to take part in something you are not sure of, ask yourself first “Is it safe?” If your answer is Yes then tell yourself that your approval will help your child grow by giving them the opportunity to explore at their own pace and make discoveries on their own terms. This shows them that you respect their ideas and builds self-confidence. When you begin the activity, if things get messy and you find it difficult to settle your nerves, ask yourself  “Can it be easily cleaned in the end?” If your answer is Yes, than relax and witness the magic. If you are curious about how to talk to your child about their art experience and finished products, read my post about the Language of Learning from Art Engine.

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