Visiting Artist: Elizabeth St. Hilaire Nelson of Paper Paintings

Her cows are my favorite!
Total awesomeness!  Elizabeth St. Hilaire Nelson of Paper Paintings came to one of my schools and talked with my fourth graders!!!

Okay, lets back up to before the awesome visit and talk about how we prepared for the event!

A couple of weeks before Mrs. Nelson came I passed out a bunch of pictures (from a calendar) of her work and asked students to look at them - notice them.  We then talked about things they noticed, what the pictures had in common, what was different and even came up with some questions for the artist.

Next we watched this short video:

After the video the kids were pumped and we set off to decorated some collage papers with crayons, tempera paint and watercolor.  I assigned tables a specific color so that we had the correct color combinations when we went to collage later.

The following week we watched a DVD that Mrs. Nelson sent me.  In the DVD she went through her process from beginning to end - making papers, sketching, under painting, and then collaging.  After the video students did their own "sketching" and under painting.  Normally I am against making all the students do the same exact thing, but this time I decided the students needed to focus on the visiting artist along with the collage process - so I decided they would do our school logo.  We have a die-cut of our logo in two sizes, so I made a bunch and let my students pick which size and where to place it on their 6" square pieces of wood.

Back to the amazing visit:

Mrs. Nelson began by talking my students about her love of art, her journey to where she is now with art, and specific techniques to her collage style - and maybe most importantly she explained that making art is her job, she gets paid to make art! After her powerpoint she demonstrated how she works - she impressed the kids with her ability to work on her artwork on planes, in doctor offices and anywhere she can sit for a few minutes! The students "ooo-ed" "aww-ed" and whispered "this is awesome" "so cool" "best day of art ever"!

So, after Mrs. Nelson demonstrated how to directional rip, placing glue UNDER and OVER each piece, correct mistakes, and all sorts of other tips and strategies - we passed out glue, paint brushes, collage papers and their block of wood.

The students TOOK OFF! It was AMAZING to watch them work.  They totally understood and went for it.  Some students used too much glue, others too little - but everyone learned by trial and error and their projects look amazing.  When we had to clean up all I heard were complaints and moans - which is always a good sign.

I think one of the best things about the day was how much my students loved her right from the beginning.  They brought paper for autographs and gave hugs left and right.  Hopefully Mrs. Nelson had a great day just like my students and I did.


First Adventures with kiddos in CI and EI Classrooms

This is the first time that I have ever had self contained CI and EI groups of kiddos.  All students I have ever had up to this point have been integration for art class.  So needless to say I a total newbie at what I should be doing, how to structure projects and even how to manage the energy.

My very first project with them went something like this:

I cut clear contact paper 12x18 sections.  I then took black construction paper, placed the smooth side of the contact paper on the black, then peeled off the backing - taped down the edges to the table.  I did this so that the students knew where the contact paper was easily and I taped it down so that it wouldn't fold in on itself when the students stuck themselves/paper to the sticky side.  (I did learn to tape down ALL sides really well when doing this -- I only did the short sides and it wasn't enough for many sensory energetic students).  For one of my students who is vision impaired I taped sand paper around the edge of their paper - and for another student in a wheel chair I taped their paper to a giant clipboard.  I want to be as adaptive as possible from the beginning.

Next I prepared buckets with chunks of tissue paper.  When students arrived I asked to see their muscles and asked them if they were strong enough to tear paper!!  They then tore paper into small pieces and stuck it to their contact paper.  This was fun to watch as some students didn't rip, others did, and then there were some that just want to stick their hands to the contact over and over.  It was interesting to watch their different sensory levels.

After students were done with the tissue paper - I prepared another area with white construction paper the same size as the contact paper.  Here I provided students with DARK colored markers and asked them to free draw me a picture.  Some students drew their families in a recognizable format - others scribbled their pictures - but had plenty to say.

When students were done drawing we stuck their drawings to their tissue paper contact paper.  The tissue magically colored their drawings -- students LOVED their creations.  I wanted to hang them in the hall but they all were far too attached to let me keep them.  I made sure to snap a few pictures before they took their creations home.

I did this with both of my groups and while the higher skilled students succeed in this projects - and my lower group struggled a little.  I had two kids in the other group try and eat the tissue paper, one just sat and stared at me, and one laid on the floor all class.

Needless to say it will be a new adventure for me teaching kiddos in the CI and EI rooms.  I am excited for the challenge as I am sure some of my lessons/activities will be amazing and others will fail miserably.  I will post about both throughout the year.


First Project

This student went to Germany and Austria!
I have tried multiple types of 'first projects' over the year - names, portraits, just jumping into projects and others.....

I *think* I may have found a solution - a project I really love for the first day of art class.

This is the 3rd year at these two schools and I really do love all my kids - so much that it bothers me I can't talk with each and everyone about how awesome their summers were.  Which inspired this years first art project - well that and pinterest.

This student went to a water park (I love how he started off the page)

I found this awesome project on pinterest, and while the page is in German - the pictures explain enough.  Each student gets a square piece of paper with a quarter circle on it, they then decorate it and when assembled together the quarter circles form a large circle.

I used the pinterest idea and made my squares with a quarter circle on them.  Then in class I spent 5-10 minutes calling on kids and having them tell me something about their summers.  I wrote it down on a LARGE word web on the board.  It was fun to see what states they went to, what water/amusement parks and all sorts of other cool things.

I then explained that I was going to give them a square with a quarter circle.  I asked them to rotate their paper till the arch would work with their assignment.  Their goals were 1) FILL the space  2) Use pictures that represent their summer  3) use colors that make sense.  The catch is that they needed to USE the arch in their picture and not just draw over it.  They also only had that one first class to finish it - which turned out to be anywhere from 10-20 minutes.  I encouraged them to either pick one totally awesome thing to draw or combine as many things as they wanted!!!

The braces this student got over the summer is the sun!
This project was totally awesome!  Not only did I hear highlights from my kiddo's summers, then get to hear even more while I walked around - but ALL kids succeeded in their very first art project.  There was no, 'I can't do this' 'this is stupid' blah blah blah.  All the kids were excited to draw about their summer.  It also provided me with a quick glimpse on abilities of my new students, how attitudes have changed over the summer, and the work habits of the students.

At the end of class I made sure to have students write their name and teacher on the back - then I put them on a bulletin board.  I love that there is already artwork up in the halls, and MANY teachers stopped to look and express their happiness of having artwork up as well!!!

Top Left: A baseball game  Top Right: One of those scary funnel water rides and camping.  Bottom Left: Plane rides and amusement parks.  Bottom Right: The Zoo and Mackinaw Bridge.