Oh first grade! I must say, first grade might even be more challenging for me than kindergarten. However, kindergartners have a slight edge with their "I'm 5 and was very recently in preschool" innocence. First graders, however, are the real kindergartners. I'm hoping and praying that within a few months- we will have made some major progress! I just have to keep reminding myself to take it slow and ASSUME NOTHING. Can they appropriately use a paintbrush? Assume NO and explain it like they don't! Can they line up at the door without mass chaos? Assume NO and remind them how it will look before they go!
Much like kindergarten, we start our days together on the floor in a manageable space with some sort of story or mini-lesson from me. I began with a YouTube clip that read and animated the book "The Dot" by Peter H. Reynolds. This is a cute little story about a young girl that finds confidence in art by making all sorts of masterpieces with simple dots.
After the video, I asked them what they thought of Vashti's artwork. I asked them if they thought it looked hard or easy and why people liked it so much. Then I showed them pictures of Wassily Kandinsky's "Concentric Circles." I asked them how it was similar to Vashti's work and why they thought this was so famous. To wrap up discussion we talked about whether or not we could make this kind of artwork even though it was so famous. I got a lot of cute shrugs saying "Well I guess we could Mrs. Byrd!"
So we went to our seats folded up a large piece of paper together until it had eight sections. In each of those eight sections, we drew crayon dots just like Vashti's. For the remainder of class I gave them coloring sheets that looked like "Concentric Circles."
The following classes, we used water colors to create the concentric circles around our dots. My first rotation of painting was an absolute disaster, so after day one, I completely reevaluated! A few tips I found... Forbid the use of the sink! It seems silly, but it reduces so much chaos. They go to the restroom after specials class anyway, so they don't need to wash their hands. Then, I found a big bucket for me to carry around and dump their dirty water in during clean up. Otherwise... you will have about 10 puddles on the floor from them trying to walk their water to the sink! Yikes!
I also found it helpful play music while they worked and told them "If you can't hear the music, you are too loud and not focused enough!" The more focused they were, the more they accomplished and the less chaos I had to stress over.
Also never hurts to remind them to...
"Treat your brush like a feather... NOT A MOP!!!"