Thursday, May 26, 2016

Medieval Arts: Medieval Textiles, 2nd and 6th Grades

SEWING.  It's a word that strikes fear in the heart of many students, and is even scarier than the word 'portrait.'  It's funny how a unit on medieval arts morphed into a unit on facing fears in art class head-on in the form of a needle and thread.

Veerrrry fitting monogram for the occasion for some...

2nd grade does beginner embroidery every year, and this year we focused on monograms.  After looking at a few, both old and new (from Charlemagne to the current Queen of England), we designed our own. Designs varied depending on how many initials kids had (anywhere from 2 to 5...we had some VaRiEtY!).  Those with the more-standard 3 initials were to set it up in the whole "first initial, last initial, middle initial" fashion, and there were a few who had normally harmless initials that became less harmless when rearranged...this is why the letters were drawn with chalk prior to sewing.

After video demonstration in the art of needle threading and making a basic running stitch, they were on their way.  Some flew through it, and others struggled, but we all (mostly) got it done!

And now for 6th grade...they got a first hand lesson in sewing a functional piece of art with real needles, and there was a whole lot of (accidental) stabbing goin' on (thank you, rubbing alcohol). Their mission was to create a medieval pouch the old-fashioned way, with just their bare hands, some thread, felt, and a really sharp needle.  Mission 1: sew the design (or glue, if sewing proved too difficult-I didn't want tears, here).  Mission 2: sew front to back; mission 3: make drawstring.  Some took on a 4th mission and created a braided handle for their pouch, and they get props for trying. It took them about four to five 40 minute classes to get it all done from start to finish, but they learned a LOT along the way. At one point one of them begged to just use a sewing machine, to which I smiled and said, "It was done this way for hundreds of years for everything they'll live." Here are the fruits of their labor!

Upon passing them back, I was scared some would try to trash them when walking out, so they were given the very sincere promise that if I found any in the garbage that I would "Hot glue google eyes to them and make them come back to haunt you!"  None were trashed (in my room)-WIN!!  Another win for me was when one of my students came up to me and proudly said she fixed a hole in her very own jacket and impressed her mom with her efforts.  Bonus points for the art teacher!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Medieval Arts: Royal Portraits, 3rd grade and K

With all the medieval action going on in the art room, making a royal portrait just seemed like the prim and proper thing to do.  All grades, no matter the age, could always use more practice with drawing people (and it seems the older they get, the more they're afraid of it).  Enter K and 3rd grade, who accepted my challenge and used PERMANENT marker, nonetheless.

 For Kindergarten's royal portrait, we looked at pictures of St. George's Chapel in Windsor Castle (one of Queen Elizabeth II's many homes, I tell the kids...and watch their jaws hit the floor when they see it) and watched a video that shows the very decorative interior.  More than one wall of the chapel is filled with stained glass windows, and many of them feature England/Great Britain's former kings and queens.  Even though many different people are featured, they are often in the same pose, so we used a stencil for our pose and the kids got to add whatever royal clothing they desired.  We used permanent marker to draw our royal self-portrait, but made sure it was on the slick side of a piece of transparency.  Kids added their title at the bottom (and I learned not all of them knew that Kings were boys and Queens were girls...oops), and later used oil pastel to color on the rough side of the transparency.  We also threw in some gold and silver paint for accents (because a king's sword HAS to be silver!).

 As for third grade, that's our medievalness gets confusing.  Portraiture was a bit frowned upon during the middle ages, so there are few examples to look at.  Our solution was to study an artist from the 19th century who painted in a medieval style: Georges Rouault.  Georges was an apprentice for a stained glass artist and was very much into glasswork, including making a painting look like an old piece of glasswork.  He liked to paint images of royalty with bold colors and even bolder black lines.  3rd grade learned how to draw like Rouault (enter permanent markers again) and colored the entire picture with a decently thick layer of oil pastel.  In order to age it, we covered the ENTIRE paper with black watercolor, blotting off the excess as we went.  A few students ended up with grayish faces as the result of not using enough water with their paint, but most turned out to be pretty impressive.  The kids LOVED calling each other by royal titles the entire time we were working.  "Queen Heigl, how do I do this?"  "Duke Dakota, Sir Noah would like the oil pastel tub, please!"  

Artists of the Week for Prairie Crossing and Otterbein

And a few of my favorites!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Medieval Arts: Becoming a Knight, Special Needs

Help! Save us all!  There's a dragon in the library! 

Most dragons may be known for hoarding treasure, but this particular fire-breathing beastie prefers library books over earthly treasures.  Made by our librarian, Mrs. Martin, I felt he had a higher calling than just hanging out over the check-out counter.  Enter my special needs kiddos and some technology...

Over the course of about 6 weeks, we toiled and troubled and worked our fingers to the bone to complete art room training as a knight.  We made lances, bucket helmets (front-half only...didn't want to scare anybody), and shields, and to top it all off, every student got their chance to 'slay' the dragon via green screen magic (courtesy of Adobe Photoshop Mix).  We even made sure to watch a video for our 'training' to see how all this equipment is put in motion.

Keep in mind, the app is the pictures are awesomely cheesy, but it got the job done.

Also, kudos to Mrs. Martin and her helpers for the awesome castle-like frontage the library has been sporting for the last month.

Medieval Arts: 3D Castles by K and Mixed Age

If we were going to learn about medieval art, castles are kind of required.  Kindergarten was very excited to make their own castle, but I had to teach them that there's more to castles than what they see in a Disney movie.  

Our focus castle was Bodiam Castle in England, shown above.  It's a fairly well preserved example of typical medieval architecture, and with it's symmetrical design, it's great for teaching balance to kinders.  We started with a lunch sack, added a portcullis (the door+iron gate), arrow loops, and carefully glued paper towel tubes to the sides to make towers.  After a brief lesson in cutting crenels (the notches at the top), castles were complete.  For the sake of creativity, each student was encouraged to add something to their castle to make it unique-princess, king, knight, giant fire-breathing get the idea.  If too much of something was chopped off during construction, we used the excuse it was destroyed in battle (and amazing tales ensued).

My mixed age class made castles, as well, but since they're a little older, we went more in depth with castle construction and vocabulary.  Their castles were built over three 40-minute class periods.  We started with a very generic paper stencil and rolled out slabs of clay with my very beat-up rolling pins.  After cutting notches for stairs and crenels at the top, they used wood blocks to create the brickwork and arrowloops on the castle.  After rolling the clay up around a paper towel tube, they added their own creative touches.  More than one added 'iron' prison bars to the exterior, one made a princess in distress, and one even made a miniature prisoner forever entombed in his clay project.

To give credit where credit is due, this idea came from a pin and we modified it to make it our own, prisoners and all.

Medieval Arts: Crowns by K and 1

Hear ye, hear ye!  Europe's finest gold and silver artifacts have arrived in Benton County!  Well, the kids think so, and that's what matters.  This spring, all students in every grade learned all about medieval art through an educational and artistic project or two...or three.  Kindergarten and first grade seemed to be the most excited about what they were making, and there were a few older grades (namely 2-4) who were jealous of them.  What was so special about their project?  They made CROWNS, of course!  They weren't just any crowns, either, but crowns based on St. Edward's and Henry II's crown.

I can't take complete credit for the St. Edward's style crown-I found a pin and modified it to make it a little easier for the kids, since I knew first grade would be chomping at the bit to make one.  St. Edward's crown is a style of crown that's been around since the late middle ages and was named after King Edward the Confessor.  It's the 'official' coronation crown of England and has 444 precious stones surrounding it's gold base.

Since I'm working with an elementary sized budget, our limit was quite a bit UNDER 444 stones.  We added a few gems to create a pattern around the base, and used q-tips and glitter glue to create the illusion of even more stones on our crowns.  Once the other grades got a look at what 1st grade created, all I heard (for the next month) was "When are WE going to make those?   Why didn't WE do that in first grade?"  Umm...I come up with new ideas,'re doing things no one else, did, either.

Kindergarten made crowns inspired by the remade crown of Henry II, which is based on Holy Roman Emperor Henry II.  It was made of multiple gold plates shaped like fleur-de-lis that were connected with angel-shaped pins and covered in jewels.  Once again, we're on an elementary budget and kindergarten skills, so we went with stencils and kids glued on foam pieces to make their 'jewels' into a pattern.

When our Kindergarten kings and queens had completed their crowns and were patiently waiting for them to dry, one drew a royal portrait of their favorite art teacher...

That was my outfit for the day, crown and all!