Saturday, September 4, 2010

Create Your Own Art Lessons the SPARKLE way! Part III

Continuing on with my series, Create Your Own Art Lessons the SPARKLE way, I introduce Letters K and L....

Kid Appeal: I get alot of questions from parents about my curriculum, especially whether or not I teach The Masters. While I do have my favorite projects inspired by Van Gogh, Picasso, Matisse, and Rouault, I tend to favor the introduction of contemporary art in the form of current pop culture, illustrators and slightly less know artists like Fred Babb or Keith Haring.
Studying famous artists is a huge component of elementary art, but so is teaching technique and that is what I tend to focus on. Now, as far as techniques go, there are only so many. What varies is the subject matter. Choosing the subject or project inspiration can sometimes be hard.
I always ask myself this one question:
What are elementary school kids most excited about?
I know upper grade girls are gaga over their some type of animal painting is always a hit. Boys love to animate. They really get into perspective and animation techniques. They also love reptiles. My watercolor chameleons are always a big hit with them.
When brainstorming new lessons, look to kid's magazines (your public library has tons)for inspiration. Often, these magazines will have articles from kids on subjects you might never have thought about. One recent article on whales inspired my whale lesson for 4th grade.
So think beyond Renoir and Degas and seek current inspirations that will inspire and excite your students!

Lingo: The opportunity for language enrichment in art class is endless: armature, bisque, brayer, form, contour, medium, repetition, composition, kiln, etc. Big words for little ones but don't hold back. I love to bathe my demonstrations with colorful descriptions and terminology. Kids love learning big words especially if they can "experience" them.
With every lesson I design, I try to have at least three art terms to speak about. I don't worry too much about standards, feeling that almost every art project I do contains multiple skills, but I do think seriously about how the child benefits from the project. Sometimes thinking too clinically about a lesson causes the little ones to lose interest. Afterall, this is art class not language or math. Have fun and don't be afraid to say it!
Sometimes though, despite our intentions, it can be hard to speak with enthusiasm or exuberance. Perhaps it's hard to keep the kid's attention. I have a strange little tip that might help you think about your "job" a little differently.
Watch a cooking show. Seriously. Any cooking show on The Food Network shares similar attributes: teaching cooking in the most effective way using a personal point of view. I love Nigella Lawson. Her recipes threaten to add ten pounds to my frame but I watch her for her style. She always uses strong verbs and adjectives. I pay attention. She draws me in. She makes food colorful, vibrant and alive and I want to make everything she prepares. That's how you want your students to view you! So take a tip from the pros and learn how they deliver a lesson.

Next up: The Elements of Art!


  1. Patty I love visiting your blog! Amazingly you have synthesized and "Sparkled" a philosophy of art education for elementary teachers that is fun! Bravo! You might enjoy a book I serendipitiously read this summer from Howard Gardners group 'Project Zero' at Harvard, they study "Multiple Intelligences". It is called "Studio Thinking" by Hetland...I read it to support my philosophy and teaching methods for recertification. Spot-on back-up for our work in the art classroom. Thank you for taking your time to write this blog.

  2. Thanks for your comments and the book rec. I'll certainly check it out!

  3. Great ideas. I enjoy your sharing with us. This is only my 3rd year as art teacher (I taught 3rd grade for 13 years before that), so I'm always glad for new ideas.

  4. So much good info here. I love the samples. I am planning to incorporate some Babb'esque pieces this year. Thanks for sharing!

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  6. Patty,

    Last spring I emailed you about some elementary art stuff....NOW I AM TEACHING HIGH SCHOOL ART. I can't believe it...and am finding that there is a LACK OF HIGH SCHOOL ART RESOURCES on the web...I might give it a go, thanks to you. You are truly a renaissance woman in the art education world.

    Thanks Again,
    Hope xoxooxoxoxo

  7. Wow. High School! I'd think it would be amazing to work with teens...they have such a zest! Good luck!

  8. Thanks Patty!

    I found out 2 weeks before school started and STILL look like a high schooler, so it's been interesting. But now I have my own art rooms and access to a kiln =)

    It's time to stop asking students to raise their hands and get in a line though ;-) Doesn't go very well with the big kids! OOPS!!! 2 days in and I am starting to get the lingo...

    I can still do after school with elementary though!

    Have fun,
    Hope xoxoxo

  9. I just received my copy of the Fred Babb posters- found a cheap one on Ebay and although it was falling apart it was in great condition- now to get them up to inspire

  10. I love your lingo collage :) How did you make that?! I love all the different fonts!

  11. Hi Mrs. Kim,
    I used photoshop to add in the words after scanning a watercolor painting I did last summer. Thanks for asking...I kind of like it too!


Well, what do you think? I love hearing how you adapted the art projects. Did it work? Any pitfalls? Or, if you'd like, just share your thoughts.