Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Winter Olympics Lesson - Part One (Tin Foil Trophies)

I just loved the Winter Olympics.  I couldn't let the opportunity pass for yet another themed lesson as this one only comes around every 4 years!

I once again indulged in my love of baking (sugar cookies with coloured icing)...

Olympic rings biscuits for afternoon tea.
It was then onto the lesson which I'm going to publish over two posts.

The first thing we did was make some tin foil trophies.  I was originally going to cover the foil with paper mache inspired by "2 peas and a Dog" (who give great instructions on how to make the foil figure - thanks!) Yet when my children saw what I was doing they told me it looked like a trophy so the trophy idea was born and we stuck with that (so much easier!!!).

Before the lesson we discussed the winter Olympics, what the children had been watching, what sports they enjoyed and looked at some print outs of people participating in the various sports.

What you need:
  • tin foil
  • cardboard or wood to mount trophy on (I just used some cardboard offcuts I had, wood would have looked really cool)
  • textas
  • hot glue gun
  • pop sticks (large = snowboards, small = skis, small cut into bits = iceskates) and bamboo skewers.
How to:
  • Cut three slits in the piece of tin foil (as shown).  I did this prior to the class and handed out the tin foil like this.  I didn't measure these as instructed on the "2 peas and a Dog" blog yet just free hand cut them. I've tried to highlight and make the splits a little bigger in the picture so you can see them more clearly.  I decided against the children doing this themselves as I imagined many cutting it the wrong way and wasting the foil.
  • Carefully scrunch up the head, arms and legs (as shown).  Then scrunch in the middle.  I demonstrated first then got them to follow along with me when I did it a second time.

scrunched up head
scrunched up head, arms and legs
  • Once you have the general shape of a person you can scrunch up the foil more moulding it into shape (as shown). If the arms or legs end up too long just fold them over and scrunch some more.  NOTE:  a few children managed to pull off heads and arms.  Don't worry about it, just pass them another piece of foil and get them to start again.
scrunched even more - now it looks like a person!
  • Position the person into a sports position
  • Using a hot glue gun (the children came up to me and I did this for them) add ski's, snowboard, ice skates etc using the pop sticks, skewers etc
  • Using the hot glue gun attach the figure to the trophy mount (if you want it in the air doing a trick spear the figure with a skewer then glue the skewer to the mount)
  • Decorate the trophy mount
The Results:

Here are some quick snaps I took of some of them before they went home on the day I wish I took more photos as they were so cool, especially the ones doing tricks in the air.  Some children also decorated the snow boards and skis (I supplied coloured and plain pop sticks so they had this option).

These can easily be done in a 45 minute lesson and by children as young as 5.

Our Artist of the week is Marc Chagall as he was born in Russia and his art was heavily influenced by the Russian village he grew up in.  Click here to go to our Artist of the week page.

To go with the Russian / Winter Olympics theme we also listened to Tchaikovsky during the lesson.

Cheers Fiona

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Jim Dine Valentines Hearts - Growing Crystals on Watercolour Paintings

You have probably guessed by now that I love a themed lesson!  I also love hearts..I love colour...I love using liquid watercolours and I love incorporating some science into my lessons.  This lesson allowed me to indulge in of all these things....

Ohh and I also love to bake!

Valentines cookies for afternoon tea..
What better way to celebrate Valentines Day than to paint HEARTS in the style of Jim Dine (our artist of the week).  I just love his use of colour.

We have used liquid watercolours quite a few times so to make these paintings even more special I couldn't resist incorporating in some crystal growing.  This was inspired by this pin (sent to me by my friend Yana (thanks!) - you've gotta love Pinterest!).  Thanks to "Fun at Home with Kids" for the great post on this and directions.

crystals growing on our paintings - how cool!
What you need:
  • Liquid Watercolours
  • Epsom Salts
  • Small containers with lids (I used salad dressing containers)
  • Watercolour Paper (we used some A4 sheets and some A3 sheets)
  • Paintbrushes (various sizes)
  • Oil Pastels

How to:
  • Ask the children to draw a heart (or several) on their paper using the oil pastels
  • Make up some Epsom salt crystal solution by mixing equal amounts of Epsom salts and hot water (from the tap) in a small container (I added the hot water).
  • Put the lid on tight and ask the children to shake the container until most of the salts have dissolved (approx 2-3 mins).
  • Add some liquid watercolour (I let them choose the colour).
  • The children then paint their crystal solution on either the heart or background
  • Allow the children to use normal liquid watercolours to complete their painting.
  • Leave to dry
  • Once the painting is dry the crystals will show up as long lines that glisten in the sun.  The photos don't do the paintings justice, they do look really beautiful where the crystals have grown.
  • I allowed the children to take home their left over crystal solution to attempt to grow a crystal at home (leave on a window with lid off to dry out.  I added a small piece of sponge to increase the growing area and it makes it easier to lift the crystal out).
Why do the crystals grow?
Epsom salt is another name for the chemical magnesium sulfate. The temperature of the water determines how much magnesium sulfate it can hold; it will dissolve more when it is hotter. As the solution cools and the water evaporates, the magnesium sulfate atoms run into each other and join together in a crystal structure made up of long needles.

The Results:

Note some of these paintings are just watercolours without the crystal solution (the children each did two pictures and they didn't have to add the crystal solution to both paintings).

I think they are a wonderful example of what watercolours can do.  I encouraged the wet on wet look and lots of drips and bright colours.  I use liquid watercolours non diluted as this produces the most vibrant colours.

close up of the crystals

close up of the crystals

close up of the crystals

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Chinese New Year Dragons (oil pastel and wool)

It was Chinese New Year on the 31st January 2014 and to celebrate we made some lovely Chinese New Year Dragons to bring good luck to our families for the next year.

I can't take the credit for this idea - I spied it on Pinterest here.

Chinese Dragons are a symbol of good fortune. In ancient China, dragons did not breathe fire. Dragons were wise and caring. They guarded the wind, the rain, the rivers, precious metals and gems.  They were believed to have magical qualities and be a combination of 9 animals:
  • Belly like a reptile
  • Horns like a deer
  • Head like a camel
  • Eyes like a rabbit
  • Neck like a snake
  • Ears like a cow
  • Scales like a fish
  • Claws like an eagle
  • Paws like a tiger

What you need:
  • Black paper
  • Wool / yarn
  • Glue
  • Oil Pastels
  • Glitter (optional)
How to:

Week 1 -
  • With a pencil draw a squiggle line on the black paper to represent the dragons body
  • Go over this with glue
  • Stick a piece of wool to the glue
  • Leave to dry
Week 2 -
  • Draw the rest of the dragons body, head and features using oil pastels
  • Add glue and glitter (optional)
The Results:


Sunday, 9 February 2014

Observational drawing with children

Since it's summer I thought I'd make the most of the good weather and plan some outside classes. We started the year with an observational drawing class, a lovely relaxed class which allowed the children to drift around our garden and draw what they could see.

Although drawing from observation is much more difficult than drawing from the imagination it's important to give it a go. Drawing what we see is one way to investigate something we are curious about. We make our drawings now so that we have the pictures later to help us remember what we saw. We talked about the different types of observational drawings, still life's, landscapes and figurative.  We also talked about how it's important to be observant as an artist to see small details such as how the light changes at different times of day, how things look different up close or far away, how things are made up of different shades of colour and how things can look very different depending on where you are sitting.

I introduced Beatrix Potter as our artist of the week. Showing them some of my copies of her books from when I was a child. Beatrix loved drawing from a very early age and wandered around the countryside with a homemade sketchbook drawing things she could see. 

We also talked about "art on the go" as many observational sketches are done with minimal materials. I handed out my "Sunnyside Art House" sketchbooks (to be taken home and used at home after this lesson) and pencils. I also used this class to introduce a few new art materials to the children. We used water brush pens, water soluble pastels, watercolour pencils, inktense sticks, water soluble graphite sticks & pencils and charcoal (all things I use when I'm drawing on the go).

some of the materials used in this class
 I brought out some bean bags (to sit on)....

Our white picture frames from our black board wall (to create a frame for what to draw)....

Some magnifying glasses (to look at things up close).....

Some plastic insects, dinosaurs, animals (to encourage them to set up their own scenes to draw)....

A mirror if they wanted to try a self portrait.....

We also used the fruit left over from afternoon tea and the flowers on the table.

It was a lovely class, really relaxed, very little clean up and I'm really impressed at how hard they all worked, given there was such a temptation to just play!  

Here are a couple of the pictures I managed to capture (most went home in the sketch books).

Chicken (we have free range chickens)
Apple (from the fruit bowl)

Guinea pig (we have guinea pigs in a cage)

Liam going up the rock climbing wall (we have a rock climbing wall and slide)

Pond (we have a small pond in the corner that is attracting lots of bees at the moment)

Bugs and plants (a set up scene)
Lizard in the grass (a set up scene)