Wednesday, November 2, 2011

My Dream Room! by 4th grade

This is one of those lessons that make me proud to be an art teacher. No other teachers could deal with the problem-solving and open-ended solutions that happen on a daily basis in a good art program. A BIG thank you to Natalie and her post at her blog smART class that convinced me that I could successfully "borrow" this lesson from her.

Above is a portion of Garek's not-yet-complete room (there will be a blanket etc on the bed), and Karli's sweet artsy bedroom. I adore that she made herself in the lounge chair, and that her outfit matches her curtains. And then there's that cool desk/chair thing she designed on the right.

We had discussed van Gogh at length, and looked at a couple of versions of his Bedroom at Arles. The kids were given the opportunity to create their own rooms. Together we measured, cut, and folded to make the basic room structure.

I then showed them just a few basic guidelines for creating the contents of their dream rooms. I put out a huge selection of wallpaper samples, crazy papers, solid-color construction paper pieces, magazines and magazine photos, clear acetate scraps, silvery contact paper (used especially for mirrors and DVD's), fabric, and glue. These are just a few of the rooms - each one is totally different. I love the way the boys all seem to have included video game systems (note the controller on the bed in Ryan's room on the left). I thought Maddy's canopy over her raised platform bed was cool, and I love the way she decorated her room with her name and signs!

Some of the rooms, like Jazz's room on the left above, used color and pattern combinations I NEVER would have put together! Connor's room, on the right, is under the ocean, as you can see by the SCUBA diver out the window.
Daniel's room is a a jungle gym.
The kids used mostly glue sticks and Elmer's Glue-All, but I also kept a low-temp hot glue gun plugged in and ready, and Dan popped over to me at the glue gun frequently to have another layer of stuff zapped on for permanence. Totally cool room.

Wyatt's room is very hip, isn't it? Love the "loading..." on the flat screen TV. Too funny! And the open laptop on the table.

What I really liked about this project was the different solutions kids came up with - for example, ladders: some had cut-out rungs, some had glued-on rungs, and others were accordion-folded. And the stuff in their rooms - wow! There are fish tanks, and terrariums with reptiles in them, bunk beds, couches, "glass" top coffee tables, curtains with tie-backs, rugs, wallpaper trim, and more. There are Adirondack themed rooms, camouflage rooms, hunting lodges, tropical rooms, and so much more.

A lot of the furniture is crooked and mismatched, but the truth is, the kids really had to THINK to figure out how to put these together, so the learning was in the doing.

As a final step, I read (to the students) van Gogh's letter to Theo describing his room, the colors he used, and his desire for it to look restful and calm. The kids then wrote their OWN descriptions of their rooms, and these are displayed on top of the stacks in our school library, alongside the rooms. It meant I had a messy art room, but a successful lesson! I hope I remembered to unplug the glue gun.........


  1. I have been trying to use Bloom's Taxonomy and you have totally accomplished many of the steps in this one lesson. Awesome!

  2. OH my gosh these are so great! What a wonderful lesson!

  3. Very cool. I would love to see a more detailed tutorial on how the room structure was put together. Also, how many class periods did this take the students to complete?

  4. @ Artteacher: the room was made with a 12x18" piece of colored tagboard. I'll post a few photos and instructions in a day or 2. The project, including all instruction, took 4 art classes for most, 5 for some kids. They had previously been introduced to van Gogh and had done some sunflower paintings, so we just reviewed some van Gogh info and focused on the painting of his bedroom at Arles.

  5. This is superb- very ambitious! I like the Van Gogh focus.

  6. That is a cool idea! I am a first year teacher(graduated from Purdue in May) and am only half-time right now, so I have very little time for in-depth projects. However, my school board just voted to make me full-time starting in January, so I am really enjoying looking at your ideas for when I have more class time. Thanks for all the great posts!

    If you're interested, my blog is

  7. Another home run Phyl! Love the tie in to The Bedroom in Arles. When you retire, I want to back a truck up to you building and drive off with all of the fun papers and "extras" you have for your students to create such fabulous projects!