Inspired by Van Gogh’s Sunflowers

…..the kindergarten classes that I teach art to created a garden of Van Gogh inspired sunflowers

Recently I read the book The Artist and Me by Shane Peacock to the entire school. The book is one of the Blue Spruce nominees for 2017. the-artist-and-me-by-shane-peacock

I liked this book for two reasons. Firstly, because it is written for young children and highlights how the famous artist Vincent Van Gogh was bullied by children and adults alike. It points out that even adults are bullied when they appear different or do things differently. In Van Gogh’s case he suffered from depression and his art was different from the classics that people had come to expect from artists. The students were surprised that such a famous artist was treated so badly. I explained to them that Van Gogh was one of several new artists that had grown tired of traditional painting and wanted to experiment with texture, colour and paint strokes. People had a hard time excepting this new way of painting and in his lifetime Van Gogh only sold one painting.

Secondly, I liked this book because the illustrator tried to use similar colours that Van Gogh used and he reproduced parts of Van Gogh’s work in his illustrations. For example there are a few illustrations of Van Gogh’s famous bedroom and an illustration of the wheat fields that he liked to paint.

I had other books that showed some of Van Gogh’s many paintings. I showed my kindergarten classes the sunflowers that Van Gogh became famous for after he died. In our art period I demonstrated how to paint simple sunflowers using round stamps. Some of the students used paintbrushes to create the petals of the sunflowers. We talked about the different varieties and colours of sunflowers and I gave them yellow, red, orange and white paint that they could mix if they wanted.

On the first day the students painted the centres and the petals of the flowers. On day two they added green leaves and stems. I also gave them the option of adding a blue sky in the background and I showed them how to paint around their flowers. Some of the students also added some ladybugs and other little critters.

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Making Journals with Kids

….I’ve always wanted to try this technique of making an art journal from one sheet of watercolour paper

As many of you know I run a book club at my school that runs for about 5 months. The books that we read all come from the Forest of Reading program which feature Canadian authors. There are different books for different levels of readers. Each program is named after a tree. For example, the primary English picture books are called Blue Spruce and the books for the junior grades are named Silver Birch.

I usually start with over 100 readers from grades 3 to 5. Each student is given a passport and each time they finish reading a book they fill in the passport with a summary of the book. They then go to the expert reader (a teacher or grade 5 student) and are questioned about that particular book. Each time they answer the questions successfully they receive a credit or two, depending on the length and difficulty of the book. This year they were given the goal of obtaining a minimum of 12 credits in order to participate in the year end celebration.

It is a very doable goal, but some students became frustrated when the book they wanted to read had been checked out. There were 120 copies of the English books and 60 copies of the French books. In the end 34 students reached the goal and one student managed to read every single book. There were exactly 50 titles to choose from. This was a record for the book club.

For our celebration we organized two activities for the students. The first activity was a drama workshop that featured one of the Silver Birch books. It was run by our dynamic drama teacher.

After that we were fortunate enough to book an author who had written one of this years non-fiction entries. Caroline Fernandez wrote Boredom Busters and talked to the children about the steps one has to go through to publish a book. The fact that amazed all of us was that for an $18.00 book the author received only 87 cents. Her presentation was very interesting and she loved the the fact that some of the students in the room had made some of the crafts from her book. 9781782491057_z

At lunch we invited the expert readers to come and join us for lunch. We ordered pizza and had juice and popsicles.

After lunch I taught the students how to make an art journal using one sheet of watercolour paper. The trickiest part was folding the paper so two of my colleagues who helped me with organizing the day pre-folded the paper. We only made the first two folds because the size of the paper was a little too large for small hands to manage but the students made the remaining folds. Then the paper was cut in three places and the folding began.

Each student was given two pieces of cardboard that they could decorate any way they wanted. I provided them with scrapbook paper, stickers, stamps, collage papers, letters, and markers and pencils. Once the covers were decorated the end papers of the folded journal were glued to the covers. Each student was also given one or two colourful elastics to hold their journals shut.

The students had a wonderful time making their personal journals and some of them started to draw and paint in them as soon as they were finished. Here are a few of the finished projects. If you would like to try making one of these journals watch the video following the picture gallery.

Here is video for making the journals:

Making a simple journal

 

Architects Do Design Cities and Curvy Buildings

…..the book, Young Frank, Architect, inspired our art lesson in Kindergarten

Two weeks ago I reminded my kindergarten class of the book we read in the library. The book was Young Frank, Architect by Frank Viva and published by MOMA.IMG_4605

The story is about a young boy named Frank and his grandfather, also named Frank. Both Franks are architects. Young Frank builds chairs, curvy buildings and models of entire cities. His grandfather tells him that architects don’t design chairs, buildings should be straight and architects design one building at a time and cities take a hundred years to develop. Young Frank is discouraged and he doesn’t want to be an architect any longer. Old Frank decides to take Young Frank to the museum, the MOMA, so that he can show his grandson the buildings that architects design. In the end it is Old Frank who learns that he was mistaken and he apologizes to Young Frank. The book ends with briefs bios about Frank Lloyd Wright and Frank Gehry.

The art lesson introduced the kindergarteners to collage and city landscapes. They were reminded  about foreground and background and were taught how to create a night sky with stars and a moon. Students were encouraged to cut out at least three high rise buildings and make windows and doors in different shapes. It was up to them whether they wanted to create straight or curvy ‘Frank’ buildings. The shapes of some of the buildings are delightful. It’s amazing how much their scissor skills have improved since last September. Enjoy!

Out of the Mouths of Babes

…..my love of art oozes from my pores

I guess my love of art and colour is as obvious as the nose on my face. Not only do I teach art, I also talk about it, a lot, in library classes. Today I read a wonderful new picture book  by Ashley Spires called The Most Magnificent Thing. 

As with most good stories, this one had a moral or lesson attached. The children picked up on it pretty quickly. They came up with: …..never give up, take your time, don’t get angry, walk away and come back to it later, etc.. 

I talked to them about some of my art that I wasn’t happy with and how ‘walking away from it and revisiting it later’ and looking at it with new eyes really helped me come up with a new painting that I really liked.

At the end of the class one of my grade 4 students who rarely speaks to me walked over to me and very proudly stated that ‘the Earth without art would be Eh!’ He told me that he just made that up. Clever! I see a t-shirt in his future. Don’t you?

Monster ‘Friends’

….Mies Van Hout has illustrated and written a wonderful book called Friends

This week I read Mies Van Hout’s book Friends to many of my library classes. I shared the book with my kindergarten class and instructed them to create and draw their own monster. We started with a free hand blob, turned it around and decided which end was up. They then added eyes and any other features they wanted to make a unique monster. They were encouraged to add a lot of colour using oil pastels. Considering that these children are only 3 to 5 years old I think they did a fabulous job. Enjoy!

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Meet the Leaf Man

….in kindergarten we collected leaves and created these wonderful leaf ‘people’ and creatures

Lois Ehlert has written and illustrated a wonderful children’s book called the Leaf Man. She is a collage artist and writer and has illustrated the entire book with the use of leaves. Using her book as our inspiration the kindergarten children created their own leaf people during art class. They really enjoyed the process.

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Lois Ehlert has illustrated and written many children’s books. This cute video is narrated by a little boy name Jonah. He’s actually reading The Leaf Man. Enjoy!

A Crazy Week

…..so much has happened at school this week and we’ve got more to go before signing off for the summer

If anyone tells you that nothing happens in the last month of school don’t believe them. This week alone (the last week of school) we’ve had rehearsals for the grade 5 farewell, the actual farewell assembly, the book club’s all day activity event for 50 students, field trips into the community, training for next years Peace Keepers, the kindergarten play day and final printing of the report cards.

Yesterday I emceed the farewell assembly for the grade 5s in the afternoon and then spent time after school getting the materials ready for today’s Forest of Reading Extravaganza. In the morning we split up the group of 50 children into two groups and sent one group to the drama workshop and the other group stayed with me for the book making workshop. After recess the boys and girls rotated to their second activity so that everyone had an opportunity to participate in both activities. After the morning activities we served them pizza, water and Freezies and the staff that helped us all year as expert readers joined us for lunch.

When lunch was over we had Allan Stratton who is the author of Curse of the Dream Witch come to the school for an hour to read to and talk to the children about being an author. The children asked him wonderful questions without any prompting from their teachers and he skillfully kept the children engaged with his many personal anecdotes about writing and how they could become writers.

After the last recess of the day some of the children returned to their classrooms but many stayed behind to finish their handmade books. There was a fair bit of cleaning that needed to be done but the grade 5s were more interested in getting their yearbooks signed. I’d put them off all day while the activities were going on so during the last period of the day I gave in and signed most of their books.

It’s been pouring rain since I’ve left school and it hasn’t stopped for over five hours. I’m afraid that it might affect tomorrow’s play day at school and the grade 5’s excursion to the pool and the park for lunch tomorrow. I’m not sure if I’m going to that but I think that the teachers who get prep from me tomorrow were given their time today. If all goes as planned we will go swimming in the morning, go to the park for a barbecue lunch and then head over to the golf course for a round of mini putt.

After school we have our staff party at the home of our gym teacher. It is usually our last day with the students but this year we all have to return to school on Friday. I suspect that many of the students won’t show up especially since they get their report cards on Thursday. On Friday we  have an assembly in the morning and in the afternoon teachers will be madly trying to straighten up their classes with their students present. It should be an interesting day.

I have a feeling that I will be going into school next week to tidy up the library. As much as the students want to help me it often ends up being more messy than when we started.

Cheers!