Friday, January 14, 2011

The best sort of art teacher day!

Yesterday, Jan at posted about her classroom being "one hot mess". I can totally relate. Mine looks like that, for sure. But days like today make me feel like all the mess, all the prep, all the cleanup, it's ALL worth it! Can I tell you about my day?
First, two classes of 3rd graders, doing self-portraits using mirrors. I am blown away. These kids don't seem to realize what a challenge this is, and they are totally into it, working so hard. So right now they are just pencil, traced with fine Sharpie. We are making hand mirrors for them, which will have a rectangle of silver contact paper for the mirror. The portraits, after they are painted, will be cut out and glued to the silver, so it looks like the child is reflected in the mirror. The kids are so proud, and frankly, I am RIDICULOUSLY proud of them. So here's some work-in-progress.

But that was just the start of the day. Next was a class of 4th graders, who are studying the regional Native Americans in social studies. To go along with this unit, they are weaving "wampum belts" with pony beads. Their patterns are ready, so today they learned to warp their looms and start weaving, and they are SO excited, and getting the hang of it quickly. Yeah!
Then there was 6th grade, who are building sculptures of "people in motion". They've fashioned wire armatures, and are fleshing out the body with newspaper and masking tape. They will be covered with plaster bandage. Again, this was another group of enthusiastic kids, totally into what they are doing, and not wanting to stop.

Another group of 4th graders rounded out the day, and they were as enthused as the morning group. In both groups of 4th graders, someone spilled a bowl full of beads that they were counting out into their bag. I said to everyone to immediately drop to the floor and help, and not a single kid whined "but I didn't do it". With the whole class pitching in to clean up the spill, it only took a minute. I love it when everyone is happy!

Not every day is like this one, but the ones that are make the not-so-great ones easier to put up with. If only I had had the time to clean it all up before I left...
One last thought. I like to challenge my students. I believe that kids will rise to the level of your expectations. If you don't expect much, you won't get much. I expect a lot, and today the kids definitely delivered!


  1. Sounds like one of those busy and rewarding days! I am curious -- what do you use for a base for your armatures??

  2. I absolutely love the sculptures! How great!

  3. The bases for the sculptures are random hunks of styrofoam, and... ta da...sliced hunks of WATER NOODLES! (You may call them pool noodles. They have a hollow center that we stuff with newspaper, and I had some pieces of masonite that I got cut into circles to glue on the bottom for stability. The plaster bandage will add weight and help make them even more stable (I hope.)

    The BIG challenge will be the sculptures you haven't seen yet: the scuba diver, the swimmer, the basketball player doing a dunk, the ballet dancer mid-jump, etc. The kids are ambitious. I think we'll just attach a dowel to a base and wire it to the body somehow... we're making it up as we go along - ha ha.

  4. Ha! Thanks for the shout out. How funny to see my name unexpectedly.

    I love the wire sculptures. The kids are doing a gorgeous job with them. jan

  5. I am in love with the self portraits!

  6. I'd like to see the finished ones. Please post pics if you have them still. Also did you paint over them in the end?

    1. Mira, I posted the finished work here:

      They were painstakingly painted, this time I believe with tempera. I did premix a number of skin/lip/hair/eye colors so nobody's hair was bright yellow, or eyes were ultramarine, and so on. It worked quite well. I also have done them with watercolor.