Grade 5 instructions for new project (Unit 2)

Hello Grade 5 students!

We discussed some of the changes that occurred in science & technology around the time of the Impressionists, specifically the advent of photography.

You had some interesting opinions about how the camera might have affected the artists of that time. Suffice to say there was a big CHANGE in the art world as the 19th century became the 20th century.

old camera

Today in art class you will begin creating your own landscape picture, one which will also focus on the concept of CHANGE. You will need to use your powers of observation!

Please follow these instructions for Part One of the project — read & observe the images you see here:

If you have finished drawing your landscape, check with Mr. Reed for the next step and instructions (your imagination will now come into play).

Have fun!

Grade 5 self-portraits about conflict via drawing, color, and abstraction

In their homeroom classes and in drama class, the 5th graders have been addressing the central idea that “differences in beliefs and values are factors leading to conflict” by looking at how each student manages situations of conflict and interpersonal problems. And so in art class, we were taking this opportunity to create self-portraits that communicate each person’s experience with or feelings about this theme.

These young artists initially identified a personal situation of conflict (during a drama class lesson) and used this event as a catalyst for their art project. These young artists have spent time discussing and reflecting on these conflicts, learning different approaches to drawing realistic facial features, and exploring and practicing geometric and organic abstraction in paint. Now they are in the final stages of putting their new learning together to create their final self-portrait — attempting to convey their ideas both in a realistic and in an abstract manner. These self-portraits are each made up of:

  • in the foreground: a pencil and ink image of themselves — drawn from life using a mirror, showing a facial expression indicating the feelings aroused by this situation of conflict
  • a background: an abstract painting — either geometric, organic, or both — utilizing specific colors as symbols of the student’s feelings about this situation of conflict

Soon after completion, the students will evaluate their ideas and the execution of their work:

  • How did you communicate in both realistic and abstract manners?
  • What did you learn during this project which was new to you?
  • What could you have done better? What would you do differently if you made this self-portrait again?

The finished self-portraits will be displayed here on this blog upon completion. Come back and look for them!

Students begin their first art units of 2014-15

The elementary students are a few weeks into their art classes now and beginning their first unit projects. Students are learning — little by little — about themselves as creators, about how to communicate and take risks and reflect on their work, and about how to be independent, responsible art students.

Kindergarten  –  We’ve started by looking at how personal journeys show the way that people change and can lead to new opportunities. These young artists have observed and discussed a variety of other artists’ self-portraits, then drawn their own self-portraits from observation (black ink on paper) and also experimented with watercolor paints as they developed their faces in whichever manner they chose. At the same time, the students are becoming familiar with the elementary school art studio, learning what and where our materials and tools are and practicing being responsible, cooperative classmates in storing their artwork properly and cleaning up their workspaces.

Grade 1  –  Living creatures (animals, fish, birds, insects, and the like) are our focus at the moment. The young students are practicing how to draw living things realistically, both by observation — using photographs of the creatures — and with a step-by-step drawing process — from simple shapes and lines to more complex details. We will soon be discussing how people have an impact on the environment and will look at how the places where living things exist can be affected by the actions of humans. Later, the young artists will create large sculptures of their chosen creatures as a way to communicate their feelings about these issues.

Grade 2 – These young artists are focusing on how people can be enriched by their own cultures and the cultures they connect with throughout their lives. In art class, they have been practicing various modeling techniques with play dough in creating realistic human heads — using their hands and a variety of tools. Soon, the students will focus on a particular person in each of their lives, someone with whom each student celebrates a certain, significant cultural event. And the students will later create original sculptures of these people using clay and colored glazes.

Grade 3 – Three-dimensional sculpture is the current focus for these students, along with the overarching notion that exploring different learning styles helps individuals understand each other better. Thus far the young artists have made 7 practice sculptures, experimenting with different methods of manipulating paper. Soon they will be working collaboratively in small groups to create large sculptures, in a variety of media, which reveal something about themselves and their interests, individual strengths, and desires.

Grade 4 – Currently focused on the idea that organisms rely on one another, these students are also beginning to realize how the natural world is a rich source for imaginative artistic creation. We have looked at many artists and their artworks who use nature as inspiration for imagery. These young artists are now practicing drawing nature from observation and are also attempting to transform these realistic sketches into very imaginative pictures of whatever fantasies their minds create. Soon the students will create a final version of these nature-inspired drawings of fantasy.

Grade 5 – In their homeroom classes, the students have been focusing on the idea of conflict and how conflict affects lives. In art class at the moment, we have been looking at, discussing, and practicing how to create self-portraits. The students are also learning that portraits can be either realistic or abstract, that faces need not look “perfect” to represent someone or their feelings or personality. Soon the students will reflect on a situation of conflict in their own lives and attempt to communicate it through a self-portrait, and they will have elements in their portraits which are both realistic and abstract.

Welcome to art class 2014-15 !

AReed profile pic

Hello students and parents,

It’s Mr. Reed here, getting ready to begin learning and working and playing with the K-5 students in Art Class!

I wish you a warm welcome back to school for those of you who are returning, and for those of you new to Y.I.S. and/or to Japan, I hope you are finding your way around well (please don’t hesitate to ask questions).

We’re soon to begin our ES art classes, to reacquaint ourselves with one another, to welcome our new classmates, and to dive right into our first art projects. As you know, the ES art classes follow the Primary Years Program (PYP) and are well integrated into the work the children are doing across their various classes and subjects. It’s an exciting place to learn and grow and push new boundaries.

I look forward to meeting you at the upcoming Back To School Night on Wednesday, September 10. Please do feel free to drop into my classroom — room E-203, upper floor, K-1 building — at anytime to ask questions or simply to say ‘hello’.

Best to you all in 2014-15,

Aaron Reed

Grade 5 Exhibition: The many ways people express themselves

The Grade 5 students worked diligently over several weeks in preparation for their culminating PYP unit, the Exhibition. Each student (having identified and chosen a particular interest or passion) worked to research, develop, express, and present some aspect of his/her interest to the school community.

In art class, the focus was on exploring the many different ways that human beings express themselves. After brainstorming over 40 different ideas, the students broke their long list into categories of “two-dimensional”, “three-dimensional”, and “other”. And so from the various two- and three-dimensional ideas, students began to think about appropriate, interesting, and eye-catching ways of visually displaying their knowledge at the exhibition.

In this unit, the Grade 5 students reflected on the factors that influence personal reactions to artwork and became increasingly independent in the realization of the creative process as they selected, researched, and developed an idea or theme for an artwork.


The annual Yamate Art Exhibition has begun!

The exhibition runs from Friday February 14 to Monday February 24 at Bluff No. 115-3, The British House — link here — across the street from Y.I.S. (横浜市中区山手町115-3) from 9:30-17:00 daily, 9:30-12:00 on Feb 24.

This art show is part of the Yokohama Yamate Art Festival and includes the artwork of students from several schools in the Yamate area, each exhibited at a different residence on The Bluff.

There are 86 elementary school artists in this year’s show, so do come visit the Y.I.S. student gallery and see the energy, efforts, and two- & three-dimensional creativity of our Kindergarten through Grade 5 students!

5th Graders communicate ideas about peace & conflict

Earlier in their homeroom classes, the 5th graders addressed the central idea that “conflict affects lives” by looking at how each student manages situations of conflict and interpersonal problems. And so in art class, we were taking this opportunity to create self-portraits that express each person’s understanding or belief about this theme.

Students chose two of three possible approaches — drawing, painting, collage — to communicating their particular belief or understanding about peace and conflict resolution. The students were also required to use text (words or sentences) in addition to imagery in their picture. Early on, students were instructed in ways of observing themselves in mirrors and depicting their faces by drawing, although the amount and type of drawing in this project is entirely up to each student (some chose to represent themselves realistically, others in an abstract manner, and others as a cartoon).

After completing their artworks, the students reflected on their ideas, their process, and their finished self-portraits, addressing the following prompts:

  • What are you communicating about peace and/or conflict in your drawing?
  • What are your symbols? What do they mean?
  • What did you learn by doing this project?
  • What could you have done better? What would you do differently if you could?

Grade 5 students begin self-portraits

In their homeroom classes, the 5th graders have been addressing the central idea that “there are many ways to create peaceful solutions to conflict” by looking at: personal experiences with conflict and how each student manages situations of conflict and interpersonal problems. And so in art class, we are taking this opportunity to create self-portraits that express either each person’s experience with conflict or a his/her belief about some other conflict in the world.

At the beginning investigation stage, students were instructed in different ways of observing themselves in mirrors and depicting their faces by drawing, with a focus on observing and looking more at the subject (i.e. their faces) than at their paper/drawing.

Students then brainstormed some ideas by writing down thoughts and words and by sketching the images that come to mind when they think about ‘conflict’ and ‘peace’ and ‘solving problems’.


As they move to the planning stage, students each decide exactly what his/her goal is, what it is he/she wants to communicate about conflict or peace. Then they begin to consider the composition of their self-portrait: where will the different elements (such as their own face) be places on their paper? Where and what kind of other images, colors, and words be created?

Students will incorporate both drawing (pencil) and collage (magazines primarily) to represent their own faces and to communicate their particular belief or understanding about peace and conflict resolution. And they will have to incorporate some type(s) of symbols — images, colors, facial expression, lines, for example — to help communicate their ideas. The students are also required to use text (words or sentences) in addition to imagery in their picture.

Currently, students are finishing up their plans and beginning to draw, paint, and collage their final version of their self-portraits.

Typhoon 18 & Art

Hi boys & girls,

Because of the typhoon, some of you (1S, KB, 3L, 5B, 4N, plus the Young Artists Group ESA students) will be missing your art class today. I’m certainly sorry about that!

If you’re interested in doing some art today, check the Online Art Resources up at the top of this page — let me know which ones you like or don’t like.

Stay inside and safe today, but don’t forget to look out the window too and see how the environment around you — the sky, trees, land, plants — looks different during a big storm such as this. And listen to the sounds! Did you ever try to draw a sound? An artist named Arthur Dove tried to paint sounds! Look at his painting below and try to guess what sound this is (you can write a comment below if you have an answer):

This artwork may be protected by copyright. It is posted on the site in accordance with fair use principles.

See you soon,

Mr. Reed