4.30.2012

4th Grade - Surrealism Collages

I absolutely LOVE this project - though it does take a specific group of kids to be able to wrap their brains around something you can't really understand.

I start off the lesson by asking if anyone knows anything about surrealism - have they heard of it, or can anyone give any examples.  I rarely get many students who can tell me anything, though most of them can recognize Dali's "Persistence of Memory".  So, next I introduce them to a short slideshow of handpicked surrealistic works - some 'classical' and other more modern.  I let the slideshow run through first and ask for students to report what they saw - what they noticed.

This is an interesting process, because students sometimes struggle to explain what they see.  They see one thing, but their brain has a hard time understanding it, so it is hard to describe.  Many descriptions will include that, things don't make sense in the picture, objects are put together or near each other that don't make sense.

So, next we go on to define some surrealism vocabulary to help them with these difficult descriptions.  We talk about:
- Levitation: things/objects floating in space that shouldn't.
- Juxtaposition: Placing things near each other that don't make sense.
- Scale: Objects that are unusually small or large in comparison to the picture.
- Transformation: Objects that start as one thing but transform, or change, into another.
- Transparency: The idea of seeing through something that should be solid.

While we talk about these we go back through the slideshow and try and find these words - most times this helps students to connect what they saw and now how to explain it.

Next, we start their collage, by gathering pictures from magazines.  I pull all the kids around for a demonstration/think aloud.  I have the students use National Geographic because of the colors and diversity of pictures and there are never pieces about who looked best in what dress or who is dating who.  I do give a speech to the kids about how National Geographic travels ALL around the world and goes to places where people dress VERY differently, and by differently I mean no clothes.  Most students are okay with this, a few giggle.  I remind them that our culture has clothes and our climate demands clothing - but in the jungle or out in the desert, clothing would be more harmful then helpful.  I explain that these other places are not wrong or gross - but just different.  They are to simply turn the page - no giggling, no elbowing a neighbor - nothing more than turning the page.  I explain that if they can't handle the magazines they don't get to use them.  I think in my hundreds of kids I have had to enforce this consequence ONCE.

I then proceed to thumb through the magazine thinking out loud as I pause at pictures, move on, decide on pictures I think are unique or funny.  I proceed to rip out the whole page and set aside.  I tell them that I also need a background - but that my background needs to have a lot of options, not just be pretty.  So a busy square, street, or landscape will work - but a pretty picture of leaves won't give me enough options.

Next, I stress to cut out each object I want to use as closely to the picture's edge as possible - it will help the picture blend in to the new picture.  I then start laying out my objects on my background playing around with how they will interact with the scene already in place.  I show different ideas, think through them and problem solve.  If I want a building to be on the horizon, but it covers a boy in the foreground and looks weird - I can cut a line along the horizon, around the boy and then slide my building in behind him.

As I do my think aloud I do my best to use our surrealism vocabulary words as I try and get my new objects to interact and appear apart of new picture.

The first day students mostly collect pictures that interest them.  The next class we cut out and do some brainstorming and start gluing pictures together.

The students really enjoy getting these to work and it's fun to watch them problem solve and think through their unique pictures.

Staff and students have enjoyed looking at them in the hallway as well.  I have heard 1st graders find funny things about the pictures and talk about what they see!


Pictures I used for my slideshow -- there are literally hundreds of great examples to use.  I picked these mostly because I like them and they represented the vocabulary well.

Vladimir Kush -- Fauna in La Mancha
Unknown -- Surrealism iPad Wallpaper
Rene Magritte -- The Empire of Light
Rene Magritte -- The Song of Love
Salvador Dali -- Reflecting Elephans








4.20.2012

Tornado Safety - 1st Grade

I originally found this lesson while browsing "Adventures of an Art Teacher".  I pinned her tornado safety pictures to my 'Art Lesson' board on Pinterest.  I have since been eagerly waiting for spring to try my spin on this idea.

The very first day we didn't discuss tornadoes at all - instead I had the students close their eyes and imagine they were driving up to their home.  I asked them to think and look at their home and proceeded to help them think through what their home looked like:
- is it a house?
- is it an apartment?
- do you live in a condo?
- do you live in a trailer?
- How many windows do you see?
- How many doors?
- Where are the windows and doors?
- What color is your home?
- What shape is your home? - tall and skinny? short and flat? square? rectangle?
- Are there shutters by the windows?
- Is there a chimney?

After this I asked students to draw their home LARGE on a sheet of paper.  They then outlined with sharpie and colored it with crayons.  I did my best to stress they color their house the color it is - apparently there are some rainbow and duel colored homes out there. ::wink wink:: If students got this far then they cut out their house and glued it to a piece of dark grey construction paper.

Next class students and I discussed Tornadoes - what are they, how do they form, what to do to stay safe during a Tornado.  This discussion was pretty informative for them and for me.  After we talked for a bit I explained the plan for the day.

After a quick demonstration on tearing paper  - We pass out their homes, black paper for the tornado, sentences about how to stay safe around tornadoes, and oil pastels.  Students ripped their construction paper, glued it down.  Next, they cut their sentence to fit in the tornado, being careful to read the sentence back before gluing it down.  After this was completed students used oil pastels to finish out details.  Again, we are working on making color choices that make sense - ie: magenta clouds aren't very tornado like. 

Most of these turned out AWESOME and I love the diversity in homes, tornadoes and even details that got added in later! 

Thanks for the idea Adventures in Art!