A central idea in Kindergarten is that materials can be manipulated to suit a purpose. So, in art class, we take the time to consider the various types of materials that can be used to create artwork — or anything that the children’s minds think up.
Recently, we looked at and touched with our hands some different materials: wood, paper, metal, plastic, and cloth & string. We discussed what each is made of and from where each materials comes. Then we looked at some photos and watched a few videos that document the process of making different things: how ore and scrap metal is processes and forged into new metal things (like wire); how cotton becomes cloth and string; how trees are turned into paper. Some of the children had a good amount of knowledge about where things come from and about how they are made.
Presented with some items made from these materials — paper straws and strips, thin colored wire, various sized wooden sticks, colored string, and plastic beads — the students were shown different methods of attaching them together. And then they began to construct their own sculptures with these materials, starting with a single wooden stick hanging on a string from the ceiling, allowing them to work “in the round”.
The kindergarten students have been learning how to construct three-dimensional forms using two-dimensional shapes. They have done it with cardboard shapes — primarily squares, rectangles, and triangles, in addition to some interesting shapes of their own design — and have also become accomplished at utilizing hot-glue guns to assemble these elements.
The students observed and commented on images of commercial construction, of the different tools people use to build things, and of abstract sculptures made by artists. The students impressively became adept at using certain tools and in creating very compelling forms, which — as the children noted — look like all sorts of interesting things. After adding additional materials to their sculptures (cotton balls, wooden toothpicks, macaroni pasta, and metal wire) as each student saw fit, they completed their sculptural creations by painting with various mixed and unmixed colors.
Earlier in the semester, the kindergarteners created hanging sculptures — out of paper, pencils, colored markers, colored pencils, staples, and string — self-portraits which depict themselves at three different points in their own lives. More recently, the students returned to sculpture, but this time with a different purpose in mind: they were learning how to construct three-dimensional forms using two-dimensional shapes, and doing it with cardboard shapes and while learning to use a hot-glue gun to assemble these elements.
After looking at images of construction (buildings, houses, bridges) and the different tools people use to build, the students saw a variety of images of abstract sculptures made by artists, identifying the shapes and materials that artists use. Once at their tables, the kindergarteners assembled the various square, rectangle, and triangular cardboard pieces by adhering them with the hot glue (and learning how to take care of themselves if a bit of hot glue gets on the skin!). The students impressively became adept at using these tools and in creating very compelling forms, which — as the children noted — look like all sorts of interesting things. The next step will be to add colors to these sculptures.
The Kindergarteners have started to read some Eric Carle books — colorful stories with illustrations by the author. As Eric Carle does, the students are beginning to experiment – to play – with a variety of tools and paints in preparation for using their painted creations to make collage pictures. Lately, the students used paintbrushes, palette knives, forks, sticks, steel wool, corrugated paper, and their fingers to manipulate and mix the paint on their papers. Concurrently, the students are learning to care for their art tools and materials, to be independent in preparing to paint and in cleaning up their work area afterwords, and to talk about their ideas and their explorations.