Saturday, May 10, 2014

Best Mother's Day Gifts Ever!!!

I have not always been on top of things when it comes to creating Mother's Day gifts. Many years kids just ended up creating cards. One year I took pictures of the kids and we made magnetic book marks. Last year, I had the kids paint a picture. This year....this year I have a group of great moms and I just wanted to do something amazing. 

So on Tuesday afternoon I stood in the craft section of our local Wal-Mart wondering what to do while my 3 girls ran around me pulling my ADHD self everywhere but where it needed to focus. Finally, I decided on painting self portraits. 

We have done several throughout the year using paper, pencil, and crayons. I work with them on starting with basic shapes (standard=check) and turning them into eyes, necks, and lips. We also talk a lot about sequencing (another standard=check). We even wrote a "How To" paper on the steps of drawing self-portraits (another standard=check). Their last set was so impressive that everyone that was entered in our local art contest was featured (This is not one of those;)'. 

Now this is something one could get very overwhelmed about. I mean mentioning paint is enough to make most teachers run for the hills! But if you take it step by step, and force encourage children to focus on your instructions before they do each step then it is not that torturous cause for suicidal thoughts bad.

Here are the steps I took with my class of 21 first graders over a period of three days in short little segments between lessons:

1. Draw a face. Encourage them to make it big, and kind of like an upside down egg. Yes you will have to help some who have yet mastered the skill of drawing a circle. 
2. Use a trapezoid to create a neck and then curve in the sides slightly. 

3. Then draw eyes using ovals. 

4. Noses can be drawn using a lower case b like shape or a backwards L shape. 

5. Finally it is time for the paint. Before this step I did everything as whole group. Once paint is introduced however it is whole 'nother story. Now I started pulling them back into small groups according to what color they wanted their background. 

 (Hint: to make a color that covers well. Mix a little white in with the main color. Not enough to even really lighten it, but enough to help it cover.)

6. Next it is time for the skin colors. Now I know it is not politically correct but I had to segregate the children for this. I could only do one skin color at a time. So we actually study everyone's skin and noticed that no one was really "white" or "black". The kids matched their skin tones with the others in the room, and we ended up with five different shades of skin color: light, tan, caramel, mocha, and chocolate....their words not mine. 

After a wee bit of trial and error, I found it easier to go ahead and outline the face, around the eyes, and around the lips for them and then let them fill in the rest. 

 7. Now it was time for shirts and eyes. They picked their shirt colors and a separated them into groups accordingly. Before they painted the shirts, they painted the eyes white. I had to help some on the outlines, and I added polka dots or swirls to their backgrounds for them. 
(They look like the White Walkers from Game of Thrones don't they. Needless to say our floor was a little "freaky" for a while.)

8. Now we added eye colors and lips. Once again I traced the shape in paint for them and they painted the inside.  

 9. Now it was time for the fun part. This is where they start coming to life. They traced over their noses that they had already drawn with black. I traced around their eyes and lips. They then made their irises with black. 

(Of course, some people would use a "fleshy"color for the nose and choose not to outline in black. I probably would do that with older kids, but it also has to do with what kind of look you are going for.)

Sadly,  this is where my tutorial has a massive gap. It was Friday afternoon at 12:45. The kids were leaving for PE. I was going to let them do their hair and eyebrows and finishing touches, but I realized that if I waited for 2:00 for them to come back then the paintings would not have enough time to dry in order for them to take them home. Plus, I then realized that we had a blasted assembly that afternoon, so there went another 30 minutes. 

Needless to say,  the next hour turned into a mad, racing, painting frenzy for me, and I had no time for the foolishness of picture taking. I put all the kids together that had the same color hair. All brown and blonde hair got 2 coats. Luckily, black covers so much better and the black hair only required one coat. I tried to paint their hair based on how they wear their hair most of the time. 

After the paint dried, I outlined everything in black with a good permanent marker instead of paint since there was limited drying time. Plus, the marker allowed for a lot more control and straighter lines. I also added wispy lines to hair to show pieces. Finally, I painted bows, beads, and rubber bands. 

The end products were AMAZING!!! No one believed that the kids did them. Everyone thought that I painted each child and were shocked when I told them the little bit that I did. 

I as so impressed at how much each portrait portrayed their subject. They looked just like them! I have never been more proud of something my students have produced, not even the amazing test scores. This was so much more beneficial and memorable. 

I have always integrated art into my classroom through a variety of ways. But this is the first year I have been at a school where there was no art. We have music and PE, but the budget for art was cut a few years ago. 

Art stimulates creativity, imagination, and the real life use of geometry and measurement. Not too mention the DOK Levels of 3 and 4 are constant throughout the creation process. In fact, I realized a couple of years ago that the reason my third graders could not solve problems is that they could draw them due to the fact that they could not visualize what was happening in the problem due to the fact that they never used their imaginations anymore due to the fact that their video games, TV shows, and DVD's told them what to see. Due to this fact (hahahahha) and the success of this project,  art, not just drawing on notebook paper, but real ART will, from now on,  be a staple in my classroom.