Saturday, November 16, 2013


We recently held our annual carnival at my school. The theme for this year was "Candyland." I'm questioning how much influence this theme actually has, because other than these projects, I really didn't see much of this theme anywhere. It just looked like any other carnival. Regardless, the classroom teachers were asked to decorate their bulletin boards outside of their classrooms with student work that reflected the theme.

I really feel for classroom teachers with the arrival of Common Core. They have absolutely zero free time for fun things like crafts anymore. So, I volunteered to accomplish this task during art class with the kids. It's really not as generous as it sounds. I have to be doing art with them anyway, and it's not hard to tie candy into things I would have already had them do anyway. For example, fifth grade was working on still life. Cupcakes are just as good of subjects as plastic fruit and turn out much cuter. 


I omitted the work of kindergarten and first grade because it was unrecognizable... Kindergarten drew peppermints. About 2 or 3 of each class looked like peppermints. The rest were a mess, and I had to just be okay with that. First grade drew a Candyland landscape. I actually thought they were pretty cute, I just didn't catch them in time to photograph. The above picture is the second grade project. I was able to tie in the color wheel and they figured out patterns (each color has five spaces in between itself). 


Third grade has been working with tints and shades, so I had them make these ice cream cones. The selected two colors of construction paper for each scoop. One a shade and one a tint. They struggled a lot. Not with the choosing of the tints and shades, but with the concept of layering them together with a perfect fit. Something strange happens with third graders. I think this must be the stage of development where kids become aware that they are not good at everything. My second graders have all the confidence in the world (though, some is misplaced), but third graders are very afraid of making mistakes. They constantly ask me if what they have done is good or acceptable. It starts to drive me crazy having to reassure them all of the time, but I'm trying to remember they just want to do it right. 


I loved the fourth grade project! I found a collage of candy boxes and wrappers that only showed a snippet of the label. The kids were asked to draw exactly what they SAW, not what they KNOW. I told them it was going to be tempting to write the whole "k-i-t k-a-t" but to hold back think about where it actually began and ended in terms of the square. This was very difficult for some of them, and I made them start over several times when they were being stubborn about going around the assignment. Some of them absolutely knocked it out of the park, though. That box of Dots above looked almost exactly like the one on the collage. I will definitely use this assignment again, regardless of whether or not it has to do with a carnival theme. I've thought about having the kids bring the product of their choice and try to copy the label exactly. I know copying isn't necessarily art, but it is a crucial drawing skill to see relationships in sizes and shapes and to be able to reproduce what you see. 


Lastly, fifth grade was studying still life. I order Scholastic Art magazines for my class. They are designed for 4th-8th graders. We had a great time looking through them and reading them out loud together. That month's issue focused on still life, so we talked about things like overlapping, geometric forms, foreground and background, etc. I scratched the pumpkin still life idea and just went ahead and did cupcakes. There are some great how-to videos on YouTube about cupcakes, and I copied a bunch of reference handouts I made for them, as well. The icing was the hardest part, but once they got it, they couldn't stop drawing them. The fifth grade teachers asked me why their kids were drawing cupcakes all over their math assignments and writer's notebooks. That makes me feel good to know that they are learning to draw things that they like and that they can keep in their "toolbox" of things they know how to draw. I was always a sucker for drawing my hands once I had a success with it in middle school. Hopefully they will have plenty of successes to come!


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