Saturday, April 18, 2009


Inspired has taken on a new meaning in my family. Copied, a fake version, knock-off, etc. On my last post, I showed some "inspired" work by my kinders. It is certainly a crisis with my students---many youngsters have lost their creativity, their imagination!

When they are given the option of "free-draw" (usually at the end of a class or end of a lesson, should the students finish early), some of my students cannot figure out what to draw. I remember being impressed the first time I saw a student take one of my art books and sketch a famous piece of art into their sketchbook. Now I've realized these poor youngsters just can't come up with an original idea!

As an art teacher, though, my lessons are far from original. I'm often "inspired" by the lessons of other art teachers. Recently, I've discovered the pletora of art teacher blogs---wow! What's more fun is catching up with Miss Emily and hearing about her lessons. During Christmas break, she shared with me some successful lessons.

Her first grade lesson on Ugly Dolls was a hit, in both countries!

Have you heard of Ugly Dolls?

I hadn't. What started as a little sketch on love letters turned into a successful toy line!

I started the lesson by reading a classic, Where the Wild Things Are. We talked about monsters and how we visual identify them. This led to talks about beauty and ugliness. Would they want a toy that was ugly? Introduce Ugly Dolls! My kids loved that the letters started because the lady went back to Korea for a period of time. We looked at various Ugly Dolls and talked about what made them ugly (one eye, long arms, etc.). Overall, we found most of them to be kind of cute! There's definitely a charm to these creatures...

The kids then proceeded to draw their own Ugly Doll using crayons on bright colored paper--orange, turquoise, lime green, and purple. Miss Emily used construction paper crayons, so her crayon markings are more vibrant.

(Construction paper crayons are on the list for next year!)

Next, the student cut out their creation. Turning it over, they tore up small pieces of paper towel, crumpled it, and glued it to the back of their guy. When the back was covered, we glued it to another sheet of paper and they cut around the edge. (I found it's best to insist that the students stop the paper towel one centimeter from the edge. This makes the gluing process much easier and neater.)

As my first graders finished their dolls, I gave them a small sheet of paper with stem sentences (the first part of a sentence). They named their Ugly Doll and explain why they loved it.

We finished class (the second day) by reading You Are Special by Max Lucado. Like many of his books, it is an allegory. Punchinello, a wooden Wemmick, eventually discovers that the man on the hill loves him because he made him, and that's why Punchinello is special. The man made him just the way he is! Punchinello does not need to worry about what the other Wemmicks think of him...when they think he's awkward and clumsy. It doesn't matter.

While there wasn't a "right" answer for the stem sentences, one student's response fit perfectly with the book! He wrote "I love my Ugly Doll because I made I love you and cute you are so good." All the students loved their Ugly Dolls because the dolls were their creation!

I was quite cruel to Tuesday's class and insisted they leave their Ugly Doll in my classroom. (Honestly, they never take artwork home on the day they make it!) I took pictures of the dolls with the stem sentences. On Thursday, I couldn't say no to the kids, so I just took a group picture before they took them home!

I'd love to tell stories about each doll. They are all so unique!

In the group photo, the middle boy in the front row actually had enough time on the first day to draw two Ugly Dolls. When it came time to glue the first doll to a new sheet of paper, he decided to use his second doll as the back! He has a double-sided doll! So creative!

Other dolls remind me of their creator! This one, in particular, just makes me think of the little boy that made it. He's the artist of The Pilgrim Snowmen from December!

(Click on the pictures to see them larger.)

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