Tuesday, January 22, 2013

An oldie but goodie - 'Words that Describe Themselves'

I've shared this in a lesson plan exchange (of lessons for substitutes) that Art Project Girl arranged a year or two ago, but I've never posted it on the blog before.  The flag image above had me thinking about our presidential inauguration, so I thought I'd share this lesson today. (By the way, did you LOVE Michelle Obama's red dress as much as I did?  Spectacular color!)  

Back to the lesson; the idea is simple.  How can you illustrate a word so that the word itself illustrates what it says (but is still easy to read)?  We brainstormed word ideas on the whiteboard, and then selected words.  No two people in the same class were allowed to select the same word.  Great words include nice descriptive adjectives (curly, frozen, boiling, tangled, etc) and almost any sort of noun, including objects or broader themes (sports, art, ice cream, mountains, rope, autumn, feathers, wild animals, cupcakes, magic, waterfall, ocean, snowstorm, rocket, hair, etc). Try to discourage the real easy words: hot, cold, short, tall.  
 Plan ideas on scrap paper, and then select the materials that work best for the chosen word.  Make sure it is spelled correctly!  We usually talked a bit about lettering (use of upper vs lower case, etc) and spacing (there is nothing worse than running out of room and having to squash together the last few letters).  On the final paper, the word is drawn out very lightly to make sure the space is being used effectively, and then color is added as appropriate.  Some of the examples in these pictures were colored with markers, others with colored pencils or crayons.  They were then cut out and mounted on construction paper, so from start to finish, the lesson took two art class periods.  Time permitting, the lesson can be expanded.  Wouldn't it be great for that FLAG to be waving against a sky?  And what if the EGGS (below) were placed in a frying pan or on a plate? 

Sorry the rest of these are sideways.  They are the only pics I have of this project so they'll have to do :(



The pieces pictured in this post were all done, I believe, by 5th graders, but this lesson can be easily adapted for both younger and older students. 

12 comments:

  1. Love this idea of meta-illustration! We will share your post on our facebook wall!

    I remember doing something similar when I taught 7th,
    Nicolette

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  2. This is one of my favs!!! I used this while on maternity leave and my sub got some awesome results. Fabulous lesson. I even showed the kids your student work projected really large before I left. They loved that and wanted to know about them and you and how I knew you:)

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    1. Awww, you've made me smile!

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    2. Do you think this is too hard for 5th?

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    3. Absolutely not! Just make sure they understand they are not writing the word and drawing a picture of it, but that the word should absolutely BECOME what it says. Do some simple examples together before they get started.

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  3. I did this project when I was in 6th grade! It's actually hanging in my elementary school auditorium as part of the Superintendent's Collection. I've wanted to do it with my students but didn't have time to fit in in last year...however now with this common core stuff, it seems like a no brainer project!

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    1. Really! You can make literacy connections for Common Core for sure. My favorite types of projects are news that make kids have to THINK and come up with their wn solutions, and this project, without any mess, fits the bill!

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  4. We had to do 3 words...a noun, an verb and an adjective...I did crayons, running and slimy!

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  5. Thanks for all of your ideas. I did an idiom take on this with my advanced class. But I might use this one with my junior high study hall that I have to watch.

    http://makeitartwork.blogspot.com/

    Thanks again.

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  6. This is a great idea, by making it a little more complicated, it is great for middle schoolers! I think I would be more excited to see little ones use problem solving in this one though.

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    1. Alex, I used to teach middle school, and this was a lesson that I originally used with my 7th graders, so you are absolutely right!

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