Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Kids and Clay

  What is it about kids and clay (especially boys)? That seems to be the most popular center I have (that and painting). Just when I think I've seen it all, I get a surprise.

The boys love to pound the clay. I've had to set some parameters so that I actually get some of the boys to use the time to actually produce something other than a squished ball. So I bought some dowels, cut them to about 18 inches, and have taught the kids how to use them as rollers.

Then I instituted a no pounding rule and taught them how to knead the clay (like dough). Then I worked with them a few times and got them set off in the right direction. I also set up a display table so that kids could display their work (with the understanding that it might not be there the following week as others needed to use the clay). The image on the left is a small try. I have since made available an extra table I was using for something else (of less importance). Kids love to see their work displayed (even if for only a day or so).

One of my first surprises was this rose. The 4th grade girl had learned this at home. I love it when this happens.

The picture to the left (with the little girl smiling in the pic) is another of those great surprises.  Wearing that big smile, she eagerly showed me her clay project.  "It's a snail on ice skates!"   Is that cool or what.

Here are a few more creative ideas from students.  I love the Michelin Man!


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Drawing in the "Drawing Studio"

Drawing is one of those activities that kids are drawn towards (no pun intended). I try to make all materials available and provide easy access so that the center runs itself. I have lots of step-by-step drawing books and a decent assortment of objects such as fake fruits, bowls and cups, plastic insects, and other objects kids can draw.

I encourage the kids to use the exact step-by-step process they find in the drawing books. Where's there's not a step process offered, I've told them to use their knowledge of shapes and break down the picture into smaller steps. I've demonstrated this process many times and most students seem to grasp the basic ideas of drawing what they see.
I talk a lot about basic shapes and how to use them to create recognizable things. We've studied the ideas of Ed Emberley, Mona Brooks, and Mark Kistler where basic line and shape are the foundation for the drawing lessons presented in their books.

The kids also have sketch books that they keep in their work folders. This is something new I'm trying to manage this year. Students use the sketchbooks to both gather and practice ideas and to showcase some of their work. Sketchbooks are kept in their work folders.
Next week we'll be doing 5 drawing stations. In each station, there will be a different drawing activity. In one, student will work in their sketchbooks, another will focus on Pacific NW Indian art, and a third, zentangle. (another zentangle site) I have several other ideas floating around in my head for other stations, depending on grade levels. I'll share how things go. I'm excited to do both the Indian art and zentangle and see what the kids can (and will) do.