Saturday, December 20, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Sheng Dan Kuai Le!

















A 2nd grade Illuminated Manuscript project involving illustration, adornment, and some technology (font type, size, bold, italics, etc.). They chose the song excerpts from a list of six different Christmas texts. The storybook capital letter and border were areas they used pictures to explain the text. We also used the computer lab to explore the visual design aspects of word processing.



Click on the images to make them larger!

The brown row on the top of this border is Santa's sleigh with all the reindeer and their silver bells!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Why does Miss M need a fireplace?

















Ok, I'll give away the correct answer in the beginning. It's for the lower elementary (PreK-2nd) Christmas program. The setting is a living room...kids in pajamas, listening to a bedtime story. Clearly, a fireplace would help set the stage.

The fireplace was constructed last week (through our facilities department), but with the upper elementary (3rd-5th) Christmas program last Friday, I had NO TIME to paint the wooden structure.

Suddenly, it was this week, and we needed the fireplace ready for 10:30 am, Wednesday.

I managed to get a beige basecoat completed on Monday. That left the stones for Tuesday.

Tuesday is also my heavy load for teaching. I threw the dress code out the window and wore painting clothes all day long. Between classes, and even during classes, I painted! The typical routine: explain to the students why I have the fireplace and why I need to work on it, start them on their project, and then get back to painting! Some second graders finished their project early and wanted to help. The inside black and top brown are complements of that class!

My last class of the day was 1st grade. I wasn't finished with the stone, but I knew I could not paint during that class. Those kids demand my whole attention!

Retelling the story later, I described the fireplace as the elephant in the room. That's completely the wrong phrase. Sure, it's the big thing in the middle of the room, but EVERYONE is talking about it!

I got first grade seated and quiet as quickly as possible. It was time to start the spiel. Raise your hand if you can tell me what that it? Since most of my kids are non-native English speakers, they don't know the English word "fireplace." Instead, I get the word fire, accompanied by hand motions and sound effects! Yes, in English, we call that a fireplace.

and WHY does Miss M need a fireplace?

The most popular answer was "to be warm." It may be cold in our school, but this fake wooden fireplace is not a solution to that problem!

Answer number two, from Justin, the creator of the pilgrim snowmen below, "so Santa can come and bring you presents!"

As every first grader knows, I live in my classroom. And how is Santa going to find me all the way around the world in China? Clearly, I need a fireplace. It made perfect sense to him! (Never mind the fundamental structural differences between this faux fireplace and the real-deal, namely a chimney!)

















Sitting on the ground, doing some finishing touch-ups!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Snow Family

To say my mom likes Snowmen would be an understatement.

Christmas decoration in my house consist of LOTS of snowmen. The best part about the snowmen collection, was, even though the tree and nativity get put away in January, the Snowmen sometimes make it all the way into February! Recently, Momma Mel has been getting restless and started packing them up sometime in January, but there's still hope...


I decided to do some snowmen projects with my students. I didn't quite get all our fall-themed projects finished in time for appropriate display around school. At least if these projects were Winter, and not specific to Christmas, they could be displayed in January and February!

I found this book in the library called Snow Family. Not a classic, but it's cute and rhyming! Who doesn't love a rhyming book? So fun to read aloud!

The concept is that this little boy's parents take care of him, tie his scarf, kiss his cheek, and put him to bed at night. Yet all the Snow Kids have no parents to take care of them! They run around the fields, laughing and playing, but lose a mitten here, a boot there...

After running around the woods with the Snow Kids, the boy decides he needs to make them a Snow Mom and Dad to take care of the Snow Kids!


We read the book one week and then started the drawings. A small part of our last project was with oil pastel, so this drawing continued their exploration of the medium. The last project was on white paper, emphasizing the oil/water resist possibilities with oil pastel and watercolor. This time, we focused on their opacity---being able to color white, yellow, pink on DARK BLUE PAPER! Working with oil pastels is like doing a magic trick with crayons to these kids!

I told the first graders they were to draw their whole family as snowpeople. Moms, dads, brothers, sisters, grandparents, pets. Anyone in their family!

How would we be able to tell who was the Mom and who was the Dad? What they're wearing, what size they are, and some of the kids took it upon themselves to label their snowpeople...

This week was their second and final day of the project. Just a quick exploration of symbolism and oil pastels. Here are some of the results!


















I like to call this one The Pilgrim Snowmen. Especially before he colored the hats in with light blue, these snowmen looked like they were ready for a Thanksgiving feast! It's hard to tell, but the guy on the right has a gold buckle on his hat! This boy's family is actually 5 people. Notice the two smaller snowmen in the background. Dad's the one wearing a Santa hat, and does the guy in the middle have a sheriff's badge?

















These snowmen are "country folk." A little cowboy hat and vest? Mom's wearing a sweet straw hat with a flower attached. The cloud of action on the right represents the three siblings. "We're fighting" she told me. Notice how she labeled the boys with their names and a blue heart, and the girls with pink names and hearts!


















To continue the trend of fighting, this girl told me her mommy and daddy were on one team, she was on the other, and they were throwing snowballs at each other! To be fair, there was a snowball fight in the book. Look at her mom's eyelashes! I told her I can tell how beautiful her mom is because of her pretty eyes!



















Here's your last snow family picture. This is actually a stop-action movie, all on one page. Early animation! The first thing he animated was the sun. It's actually just one sun, he told me, not three. The arrows show how it moves across the sky. The green under the white along the bottom of the page is the grass, as the sun melts the snow. Then he added an arrow from his snowman into the house. He told me he was only dressed up as a snowman, then he took off his costume and walked up the stairs. The last bit of animation---the fireplace with the smoke going up and out the chimney!

from my kindergarten ARTIST

A new painting from Rachel ("Miss M., can you tell I'm an artist?)

Kindergarten started class by attempting to mix 8 colors for me and paint them on a worksheet (on top of the printed name). Red, yellow, blue, orange, purple, green, pink, brown. Here was the kicker, they only had red, yellow, blue, and white!

Unlike the 1st grade painting sessions, we spent less time explicitly stating the mixing combos. Instead, I wanted to see how much they'd figured out on their own. Kids were allowed to tell each other what to mix, but each student had to mix their own colors. Some were more successful that others. After they found all 8 colors, they could move onto their painting.

Most students finished early, and since my paper stash was SUPER LOW, I didn't have extra papers for another painting. Instead, they cleaned up as they finished, and when a group was ready, I read a picture book called Snow Family for the last ten minutes of class. (Look for a post SOON about the first grade projects that go with that book.)

My artist was unfazed, even as EVERY OTHER KID in her class was finished, washed up, and listening to the book. Her back was to me as I read, and I never saw her turn to check out what was going on. Rachel was focused on that painting. Finally, with less than two minutes remaining, I told her it was time for her to stop and wash her hands. She said a simple "ok" and went to the sink!

I asked her about her painting. It's quite different from her "corners" piece (picture below). She didn't really have a story about it. I think she was simply caught up in mixing colors and painting them in beautiful patches across her paper. My little abstract expressionist!

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