Saturday, March 10, 2012

Looking down from above

Yes, that is a flying pizza zooming in above the city on the left. Those are superheros flying above the other two cities. Wait till you see what other things are in the skies above my 4th graders' cities!!

I always give my 4th graders a basic introduction to one-point perspective. I've done "flying boxes" for years, and the 4th graders are always so excited to try out this new skill. But we all know it's a struggle; not all kids will 'get' it right away, and some (particularly those who struggle at math, it seems), may NEVER truly grasp the nuances of the process. Anyhow, I saw a lesson version of perspective cities viewed from above at a post on Sarah's Art Room. I used her idea of keeping the cities in black and white, but changed my approach to the rest of the lesson.

We all worked together to begin, with me using an old-fashioned overhead projector to demonstrate! Our Vanishing Point was at the bottom center of the 12"x15" paper, and everyone used rulers to draw a minimum of 6 rectangles, all parallel to the sides of the paper. Starting from the bottoms of the bottom rectangle, we began connecting all corners to the VP, with the following rules: NEVER draw through one of your rectangles, and if you BUMP into another rectangle on the way to the VP, you STOP and don't pick up the line again on the other side of the rectangle. Easy peasy!!

We traced with Sharpies, and made light pencil guidelines aiming toward the VP down the walls of the buildings to use for windows and more. This is where it gets pretty challenging for 1st timers, so I didn't stress out when some were less successful in this part of the lesson. The buildings would look like buildings no matter what! They loved writing words on the roofs so that airplanes could see them: everything from the sign that said "Reptile House - P.S. Don't Buy the Cobra!" to the "Pot Belly Deli"to the "Haunted County Jail" which included "Ghost Place". And of course there's schools, art museums, police stations, amusement places, stores, restaurants, and more. The cities were cut out to place on a background that was created separately.

The backgrounds were a lot of fun, and done in about 10 minutes. On an 12"x18" sheet of white paper, the curvature of a planet was drawn with oil pastel. Still using the oil pastels, some kids added lots of design and texture to the planet at this point, others added stars and other celestial details, and others were pretty minimal with the oil pastel.

Then, we painted with liquid watercolor, but all I had was blue, turquoise, red, and sparkly 'black'. The other colors - greens, violets, oranges and yellows - all were paint that I had previously created by soaking the tips of those dead markers. We've all seen that done, right? I have a box in the art room labeled "DEAD MARKER GRAVEYARD" and the dried out markers all get tossed there for me to periodically soak. (By the way - the paints I made this way are getting a gelatinous skin on them. Do you know how to prevent this from happening?)

The last step was the silliest. After gluing down the city, the students used a separate (smaller; I think it was 6"x9") sheet of paper and some markers to create something that could be flying above the city. In the 3 photos above, there's a UFO, a dragon, and a flying fish. Below is someone seated on a magic carpet, a mutant bumble bee, and someone with jet packs.

And then, below, is a flying submarine, another superhero of some sort, and an airplane.
Some other ones that I didn't post in these photos (it was hard to choose but I just had too many to post them all) included a flying pig, a butterfly, a dragonfly, a helicopter, a flying pickup truck, an alien, another UFO, a flying heart, and a hot air balloon.

I think this may be the most fun my 4th graders EVER had doing perspective, and I think they are very proud of their success.


  1. I was going to start 1-point perspective next week with my 5th graders using the traditional horizon line method, but after seeing these, I'm going to try it this way. Looks like a ton of fun!

  2. I am working on 1 point perspective now with my 5th grades and starting my 4ths nextw eek! You are so right when you said that some get it and some do not and it is a struggle at times but they really enjoy their results when they are done. These came out very cool! Love the concept! :)

  3. I love these. They definitely make it more fun!