This second grade project yielded some of the best results I've seen all year. I loved its simplicity and the multiple steps that kept kids busy and engaged. We started off the class by looking through Google Images of some Chinese pottery. I asked the kids to tell me some things they saw that were similar in each piece. They all noticed right away that most of it was blue and white and had lots of swirly lines. They saw dragons, flowers, birds, bridges, and vines. This is one of those topics I don't know much about, so I just let the kids drive the conversation based on what they saw. I think we read into art too much sometimes. Sometimes it's just about making stuff that looks pretty that we like!
They each got a 4x7" (ish) piece of white paper. I showed them how to draw an ellipse (top of a cylinder... looks like an oval) at the top of the white paper. From there, they were able to draw a pretty decent vase with a neck and rounded bottom. I try so hard to get kids to see that the ellipses on cylinders don't touch the edges because the vase or container has to have some width/thickness to it. This was something I learned in Drawing I in college that transformed all cylinders I drew from then on. The kids don't always understand, though. I think it's one of those spatial development things that they just don't quite have yet. Hopefully if I say it enough, by fifth grade they will be pros.
From there, they looked at the examples from Google and designed their own vase with a blue marker. After their vase was done, they cut them out and glued them onto a 9x12" piece of gray construction paper. The vase was the most time consuming part. From there, they moved onto two other stations. I love the idea of stations because they can all work at their own pace and move around a little.
Up next were the cherry blossom branches. They used brown markers for the branches, then they walked over to a dish I mixed up of soft pink paint. Instead of breaking out the brushes, they just used their fingers to dab clusters of finger dots for the blossoms. Finger painting is obviously really simple, but I think it's good to show them how to problem solve to get the look they are after.
For the last station, I posted a chart of Chinese symbols/the corresponding English word on my Teamboard. Most of them walked up to the board and used the table next to it as a work space. I told them they could do as many symbols as they wanted. A few kids got really ambitious and did eight symbols. Others were content with one or two. They did an excellent job figuring out how to draw the symbols. I'm all about breaking down complex things into simple, familiar shapes!