October 17, 2014: Art

We start the year with a short collaborative art unit. This year the 2nd-5th graders created a Color Wheel Collage that we will use as a teaching tool. It will be hanging in the art room for years to come and is a great representation of the many tints, shades and tones found within a single color. Each student had the chance to make a monochromatic (one color) drawing of an object of their choosing to attach to our color wheel. They focused on drawing lightly with pencil, layering colored pencils to create a saturated color and used markers to create emphasis and contrast in their drawing. They also practiced their best cutting skills so they would only include their drawing and not the white space around it (not always an easy task). The Color Wheel Collage is displayed on the bulletin board outside the art room for all to admire until it takes its permanent place hanging in the classroom. 2nd-5th graders also created two Run for the Arts Banners. These banners will be used during RFA for years to come. 3rd through 5th graders also worked on a collaborative painting for the art room that revamped an old ocean scene with a little painters tape and some imagination.

Finished Color Wheel Collage

This week, third graders have started our Unit of Inquiry, Art in Many Cultures. We begin with Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). So far, I have introduced the Dia de los Muertos through reading a beautiful book, A Gift for Abuelita. In this story a girl who is coping with losing her grandmother learns from family members about the healing power of remembrance through their cultural tradition of Dia de los Muertos. She creates a handmade gift to honor the life of her Abuelita and places it as an ofrenda (offering). Later during the unit I will read a book called Grandpa Green that touches on a similar theme of family history and love. It illustrates how through our memories of someone, we can use our creativity to honor them and celebrate their life.

A Gift for Abuelita


Students have seen many images of traditional artwork that use the skeleton. We discussed the festival and what the skeleton can symbolize. In their sketchbooks, students are practicing drawing skeletons and brainstorming ideas for their own Dia de los Muertos inspired artwork. Some students will chose to honor a friend, pet or family member who died. I am sensitive to the fact that for some students this can be an emotional topic and we address that while it can be sad, in Mexican culture this holiday is meant to be happy and is meant to celebrate the lives of people (or sometimes in our class the pets) we love. Please ask you child who they are choosing to honor and help them learn or remember any special things about that person or pet. Some students are honoring a grandparent who died before they were born and I am encouraging the kids to ask their parents for stories about the person, favorite foods, special hobbies, etc. Thank you in advance for sharing with your child to make this experience more meaningful.  

Some reference materials for drawing skeletons

Our Central Idea: There are many factors that influence artwork created in different parts of the world and make it unique and aesthetically pleasing.

In this part of the unit the students will:
Brainstorm ideas in their sketchbooks before arriving at a final plan
Observe and draw skeletons
Create a three-dimensional box form out of paper
Combine two and three-dimensional artwork to create a final piece
Create a sculptural object using model magic
Compare and contrast the Japanese Obon festival with Dia de los Muertos
Explore how different cultures celebrate the lives of friends and family who have died
Develop respect for different cultures and cultural traditions
Create a relief sculpture
Understand how and why the Dia de los Muertos festival is celebrated
See that humor is sometimes infused into artwork
Know that visual art is a part of many cultural celebrations

Lastly, Run For the Arts 2014 was a success! Many, many thanks to all of our volunteers, and parents who who helped out in any way. The event is over but the most important part still needs to happen. RFA pledges are due to your teacher or any receptionist by Friday, October 24. Thanks so much for helping your kids collect the money they earned!

RFA Banner

Thanks for reading about what we've been doing in the art room so far this year. If you have anything you want me to know, please feel free to contact me via email and introduce yourself if you see me around campus. Stay tuned to for the next 3rd grade Art update in four weeks.

Sarah Harpole
Art Specialist