Friday, November 18, 2011

Immigrating to America Mural

As a culmination of the drawing unit, students tried their hand at a large-scale collaborative mural. Everyone participated by including their own full-body portrait. Students also worked together to create the beautiful backdrop of their mural: Ellis Island. Students were responsible for painting the ocean, waves, sky, and clouds. I found this to be a great opportunity for the students to share a visual story of their interviewee, while also participating in a large collaborative project that the entire grade can be very proud of! Well done, fourth grade!
"Immigrating to America" Final Mural

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Full-body Portraits of Immigrant Interviewees (tie-in to social studies curriculum)

For the fourth grade’s final drawing of a person in proportion, I asked students and families to send me a full-body photograph of the person they chose to interview for their immigration project in social studies (thank you, families!). First, students drew their person in proportion by using basic shapes. Then, students learned how to draw clothing on a three-dimensional form. They used their observational drawing skills to closely capture the clothing their interviewee was wearing the day of the photograph. Because a lot of the clothing was black or white, I encouraged students to exercise their own artistic license when it came to coloring in the clothing. Lastly, students were responsible for carefully cutting their person out in preparation for the collaborative mural. The results are really fantastic! Please enjoy the few examples below.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Skype Session with Faith Ringgold

When I was hunting around on the internet (specifically Faith Ringgold’s blog:, I found a really great opportunity for my third grade students. Immediately following the culmination of the story quilt lesson, I arranged for a skype session with Faith Ringgold herself! All 49 students squeezed into my art room last Tuesday morning, and a few students had the chance to ask Ms. Ringgold questions. Next, every student present stood in front of the computer camera to show Faith Ringgold their story quilt. Ms. Ringgold was gracious and delightful, and made several comments and compliments on the student’s work. This was probably the most thrilling celebration of an art project that I have ever done. Not only am I ecstatic that the students put the amount of effort that they did into their story quilts, but I am also excited for the students to be able to have this chance-in-a-lifetime experience with Ms. Ringgold.
Setup for Skype Session

Faith Ringgold on the screen!

Tradition Drawings with Patterned Frames inspired by Faith Ringgold

Faith Ringgold is an artist well-known for her story quilts. In class we learned about Faith Ringgold’s life and observed her artwork. Then, we read the book Tar Beach, which prompted a discussion on tradition: What is tradition? What is Faith Ringgold’s tradition in Tar Beach? And, what are your traditions? Following the discussion, students chose a tradition to feature in their artwork. Then, students drew a representation of their tradition by drawing mostly from their imagination with a little help from some reference photographs. Then, students transformed their drawings into story quilts by framing each piece with the patterned tiles they created earlier. 

The story quilts really turned out beautifully (great job third grade!), but my favorite part of this project was learning all about the students traditions. There were so many traditions I had never heard of – from “elf on a shelf” to “pickle presents.” It was neat getting to learn more about students and their families through creativity.