Color Wheel Installation

I was recently explaining to someone that asking and encouraging my students to take ownership of their school space was very important to me. I strongly believe that if a students feels that they are a part of the whole school community they are much more likely to succeed. This seems like an obvious observation, but how does a teacher encourage students to feel a part of a whole, especially when I have new students coming in every 2 weeks? My solution has been many things, including my after school programs. however, during class, it’s all about decorating the space with their own art work. I love the boost of self confidence kids get from seeing their artwork hung up. So for this project, before I even began an entire unit on the color wheel, my students worked together in groups to create fun, fan-like color wheels, that they then hung around the classroom.

Update: 5/23/13 So this is how our Color Wheel Fans were made. There were six students to a group and each of them had to pick two colors that were next to each other on the color wheel. For example, red and orange, or orange and yellow, or yellow and green …etc. Then they folded each paper accordion style and used glue sticks to attach them in order. Then they attached the two ends together and ended up with a circular fan.

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Cleaning Up

Cleaning up can be a pain, for both the teacher and the students. Still, cleaning up is just as important to understanding the material as using it during work time. I recently made the mistake of not having the 4-5 year old students in my “Art Around the World” class clean up after they had finished a collage project. I realized later that this had been a huge mistake. First, because I had to stay after class much longer than usual in order to sweep up all the small pieces of paper, and second because I realized that I had robbed them of the complete collage experience. Collage is not just something you can start whenever you please, cutting and gluing willy-nilly. If one embarks on a mission to collage one must anticipate the mess. Cleaning up is always something I have incorporated into my lessons, but simply out of necessity (I can’t possibly clean 21 brushes and pallets) and principal (it is an important part of maintaining discipline and respect for materials). Now I realize that it has yet another purpose: education, and information about the material.

^ The photograph above is an example of how wonderful having a sink in the classroom can be. Here, my 10-12 year old ceramic students clean up their own materials after a day of glazing.

Gambian Masks

Every week we travel to a new place in my “Art Around the World” after-school class, that I teach for Private Picassos.  Ever since I can remember African mask making has been a constant go-to for art teachers everywhere. (O.K. maybe not in Africa, I would have to check) My only problem with this is that since I am stamping my students passports every week with the actual name of a country. Stamping “AFRICA” seemed a little bizarre because even if my students don’t know better I know full well that no one visits an entire continent all at once, nor does one have “EUROPE” stamped into their passport as soon as they arrive in say, England. So I thought I would pick and stick with a country in Africa. I had no idea where to start so I decided on Gambia, because my good friend Ami is from Gambia. After some light research I realized that Gambian does have a tradition of mask making. I felt better about having chose a specific country and from there I began my lesson planning.

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