I was so pleased with how well my 3rd graders started out the year. They dove right in with a tricky project, and we have a very high rate of success. I started the first class by asking them to brainstorm about what LINE is. Most of them couldn't describe it without saying "a straight line." So I had a student read a definition for the whole class that talked about marks of any sort made between two points. Hesitantly, I passed out big fuzzy pipe cleaners to each kid and begged them not to make mustaches or put them in their mouth (this feat was only partially successful... gross..). I asked them to name different types of lines and we bent and twisted our pipe cleaners to make those diagonal, zig zag, swirly, curvy, you name it lines!
We looked at some paintings and discussed where we saw lines and how those lines made our eyes move around the painting. For the remain of our first session together, I gave students a piece of cardstock roughly 9" by 5". The kids started by using a marker to draw a curvy line from one corner to the other on their paper, then filling out the whole paper with curvy lines that varied in thickness as they moved across the paper. I learned quickly to put away the skinny markers and just let them use the fat ones. Skinny markers color way sloooooowwwweerrrr.
Students wrapped up their coloring at the beginning of class on day 2. I ended up keeping the kids a little bit into my lunch this day because once you start cutting, you need to glue all the pieces back together or the art room storage closet will eat them! Next, we challenged our measuring skills by turning the paper over (horizontally) and making marks at every half inch. You wouldn't believe how difficult this can be for kids! They then slid their rulers down and repeated those marks right below the top ones. Once they had two sets of marks, they connected them with vertical lines and labeled each section with numbers.
I was very careful to demonstrate the next step very slowly and repeated myself 5 times for each step. Be prepared to repeat it 5 more times when they start independent practice! As we cut out the strips, we were extremely careful to keep them in order as we turned them back over. I told them it should look like a puzzle put back together again. Once their piece was back in order, I had them start from the middle and glue the pieces outward. I had them think of it like a mouth opening from the left on top and from the right on the bottom.
A few in each class turned out a little goofy or didn't open different directions, but it really didn't matter because they were absolutely amazed at what they had accomplished by the end of it! It was awesome to watch how far they came in just two class periods. When I first gave them their rulers and directions- you would have thought I asked them to take a calculus test!