Kindergarten’s artistic journey has begun

photo: A. Reed

In our first unit of inquiry, the Kindergarten students have been looking at the concept of Change and how personal journeys show the way that people change and can lead to new opportunities. We are looking at how our artwork changes and grows over time, from ELC last year, to Kindergarten this year, and on to Grade 1 next year.

In the artistic journey that these young artists have begun, they have

  • drawn & painted their own self-portraits from observation
  • observed and discussed different artists’ self-portraits
  • experimented with a variety of lines, shapes, colors, tools, materials, and processes in creating personal 3-D crowns
  • begun making choices about artworks based on personal preferences and interests.

We aim to enjoy experiencing artworks, to show curiosity and ask questions about them, and to realize that our artwork has meaning.

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 artwork properly and cleaning up our workspaces.

Grade 1 creates life cycle dioramas

photo © by A.Reed

photo © by A.Reed

In their homeroom classes, the Grade 1 students examined how all living things go through a process of change. With Ms. Zoe and Ms. Saito the students looked at the cycles of life, how the creatures in our world change over their lifetime. And so in art class we have focused on the key concept of Change, as the children created artwork in response to a variety of stimuli. In so doing, they were challenged to identify a chosen living creature, to plan a way to visually display its particular life cycle, and then to make specific choices of materials, tools, and processes.

The students came to art class with much knowledge and many ideas from their homeroom inquiry. And after several weeks of work, they recently completed their life cycle dioramas — having utilized colored paper, pencils, colored pencils, oil pastels, scissors, staplers, soil, sticks, leaves, playdough, toothpicks, popsicle sticks, paint & paintbrushes, beads, rocks & pebbles, paste, wire, hot glue guns, and other media. Ultimately, these art students have attempted to transform ideas and materials into three-dimensional dioramas designed to educate their audience (parents and other students) about the various life cycles of living creatures.

photo © by A.Reed

photo © by A.Reed

The parent-sharing day is coming soon. All their dioramas are currently on display in the Grade 1 classrooms. Come have a look!

Kindergarten explore their growth through reflection, materials, and imagination

photo © by A.Reed

photo © by A.Reed

The kindergarten students have been very busy creating a class picture book, individual personal storybooks, and individual sculptures. Our initial central idea in kindergarten this year is that “personal journeys show the way that people change and can lead to new opportunities.” And a recent central idea that we have been addressing is that “materials can be manipulated to suit a purpose”.

photo © by A.Reed

In art class over the past two months, the students have been addressing both of these notions as they express their learning and their desires visually in both two and three dimensions. A big event in the kindergarten class was their trip to a sweet potato farm. And so in art class we created an original book, The Sweet Potato Farm, with color illustrations and narrative words documenting the students’ learning and growth before, during, and after their trip.

photo © by A.Reed

photo © by A.Reed

Later, these young artists progressed in a different direction with their work by exploring, manipulating, and transforming a variety of materials for stated reasons into personally imagined pieces of art. Having visited the Grade 12’s DP Art Exhibition recently, the students became aware of the “artist’s statement” and how artists explain the meaning or purpose or their work and their process. So in the library exhibition of the Kindergarten students’ sculptures, visitors can read each young artist’s statement about their own work.

photos © by M.Swatphakdi

photos © by M.Swatphakdi

We took the time to:

1. to look at, question, enjoy experiencing, discuss the various types of two- and three-dimensional works made by other artists (looking at pictures, watching videos, and examining others’ artworks);

2. to identify the materials and processes other artists use in the creation of their artworks, as well as to look at where these materials come from and how they are manufactured;

3. to realize that our artwork has meaning;

4. to experiment with some different materials that can be used to create 2-D and 3-D artwork, such as those that come from wood, metal, plastic, plants: we’ve explored and used paper, felt, aluminum foil, toothpicks, popsicle sticks, burlap, paper & plastic straws, ribbon, wire, pipe cleaners, foam, spools, cotton, string, uncooked pasta, scissors, glue, tape, staplers, hole punches, colored pencils, paints, markers, and pastels);

5. to explore the various processes that artists can employ with these materials and tools to create what they envision and to discover new ideas.

photo © by A.Reed

photo © by A.Reed

Through this exploration and by making decisions for themselves, the young students have created original storybooks and 3-D artworks. The next time you see a kindergarten student at recess, ask him or her to explain the sculpture that he/she has created in art class. Or ask to to read and see their class pictures book: The Sweet Potato Farm. And don’t forget to visit their library sculpture exhibition!

photo © by A.Reed

photo © by A.Reed

Grade 5’s journey into Aesthetics

The Grade 5 students spent nearly 2 months focusing on AESTHETICS and the central idea that aesthetic expression can be influenced by a culture’s history and values.

Looking at how traditions are related across genres and over time and at how local traditions are similar and different to one’s home culture, the students focused initially on Japan. Concepts such as “wabi-sabi” (beauty in imperfection, hidden & transient beauty) and “ma” (space, such as the space in between sounds) were focal points, as were various Japanese arts which students were able to explore and research according to their interests.

In art class, this How We Express Ourselves unit began and ended with each student defining the word “beauty” for him/herself. On that first day, the students were presented with a pile of trash and discarded stuff and challenged to “make something beautiful”. Here are the results:

In the intervening weeks, students engaged in a variety of activities, culminating in each student’s presentation of an original work of art or design:

  • Explored an interactive PowerPoint experience (“Japanese Arts & Aesthetic Exploration”) to pursue the traditional Japanese arts they wanted to learn more about: calligraphy, ceramics, flower arranging/ikebana, tea ceremony, architecture, dolls, paper folding/origami, painting, gardens, sculpture, printmaking/ukiyo-e.
  • Two engaging visits from the artists Shoichi & Colleen Sakurai, who (1) introduced the students to the concept of “wabi sabi” and kicked-off their Wabi Sabi Project — creating wearable art from found and discarded materials — and (2) returned to assist the students’ in creating their projects.
  • Experimentation with specific Media, Tools, and Processes in art class, to be used in the creation of their Wabi Sabi Art.

Photos of Shoichi & Colleen’s presentation…

…and the children working with Shoichi & Colleen (and their amazing power tools!)

The Aesthetics unit culminated with the children’s presentation of their own wabi-sabi projects. Projects created from random trash and discarded objects included: handbags, a rain-protective bike helmet, picture frames, hats, a dartboard, a dress, a Christmas ornament, a sun-powered lamp, a candlelit lamp, a game, a cooking apron, a baby’s toy, necklaces, an ornamental wall hanging, a ring/jewelry, and a lot more. As the students presented their creations to the audience, a partner read their self-reflection which described their process, their materials, and their inspiration.

Presentation photos (above) credit: Ed Lemery

This unit of study is a one on which nearly all the Grade 5 teachers (homeroom, arts, and Japanese) collaborated. It has been an enlightening and engaging experience for students and teachers alike. We’ll end with some of the students’ recent definitions of ‘beauty’:

  • “Beauty is the thing made by human that made with person’s feeling and time.”
  • “Beauty is something that is pleasing to the eye and makes you feel good.”
  • “Beauty is something that makes you love nature.”
  • “Beauty is something that expresses someone’s opinions through simplicity.”
  • “Beauty is a combination of shapes, lines, and colors which is aesthetically pleasing.”

Grade 2 artists create clay sculptures based on cultural celebrations

Earlier this year, the Grade 2 students focused on the central idea that people can be enriched by their own cultures and the cultures they connect with throughout their lives. In art class we focused on the personal connections the children make through their cultural celebrations.

The Grade 2 art students created clay sculptures: original artifacts of each student’s experience in reflecting on a cultural celebration that he/she experiences with family (and/or friends).  Having chosen a particular person whom the student associates with this cultural celebration, the children moved from the practice (play dough) stage to the final (clay) stage of their sculptures. The students have used these two videos to assist them in their work and to allow them to work at their own pace, accessing the desired instruction as needed. The first video focuses on the basic head, eyes, nose, and mouth forms:

The second video addresses additional details such as the teeth, lips, eyelids/eyelashes/eyebrows:

And — as the human nose seemed to be the most challenging facial feature to model — a third video was created later, as it became apparent that some students needed alternative approaches to sculpting a nose:

Having modeled and carved a head, eyes, nose, mouth, ears, hair, and the related details in clay, the students attached the heads to a clay base and engraved the subject’s name. Once bisque-fired, the sculptures were glazed in color and finally glaze-fired.  The artworks were unfortunately not completed in time for display at the Cross Cultural Lunch in October; however, they are now complete and ready to share at the Student-Led Conferences this month.

Here are some images of the students at work in art class:

Grade 1 students create environmental treasures

In their homeroom classes, the Grade 1 students looked at the rights and responsibilities of people and living things — looking at how people have an impact on the environment. With Ms. Zoe and Ms. Saito the students discussed and considered our natural environment as well as the impact of the choices people make on that environment. And so in art class we have learned about sculpting and drawing living things (animals, insects, fish, birds, and so on) so as to transform to our downstairs hallway outside their Grade 1 classrooms. The students began by drawing various living creatures from observation (photographs) and then constructed large, three-dimensional paper sculptures of their favorite living creatures. It is these sculptures — these treasures — which now fill the hallway.

The following video shows the process the Grade 1 — and all ES students — use to become proficient at drawing what they see.  Limited to 10 minutes, the video is a basic overview and does not cover all the finer points of observational drawing. (Students can use this video to practice drawing at home)

how to draw what you see from YIS Academics on Vimeo.

The students first drew pictures and made small playdough sculptures of living creatures as a way to recreate their ideas in both two and three dimensions. We also read the books  The Butterfly’s Treasure by Schim Schimmel and Oi Get Off Our Train by John Burningham, both of which convey the beauty of the natural world and allude to the fragility of our environment. The students have had a variety of interesting reactions to these stories. We also had an opportunity to look at photographs of various living things and of the environments that they live in, and the students thus had the chance to observe and comment on how human beings can affect the natural environment and why they do so.

The Butterfly’s Treasure storybook cover (photo by A. Reed)

The children finished their large 3-dimensional sculptures of each student’s favorite creature in art class — using pencils, paper, paint, staples, foam, toothpicks, buttons, pipe cleaners and various other media — learning to express their opinions about art and to engage with and to enjoy a variety of visual art experiences. Now that all the sculptures are complete and the students have had a chance to reflect upon their work, the 1st grade hallway has been turned into our imaginary natural environment, filled with these “treasures”: animals, fish, bird, and insects. The students hope you will come visit their 3D art exhibition soon.

 

Grade 3’s collaborative creativity & self-portrait sculptures

Photo © A. Reed 2015

Photo © A. Reed 2015

With a brief interruption to design and create props, scenery, and costumes for their Unit 3 plays, the Grade 3 students have finally finished their Unit 1 sculptures which — as the students now realize — spell out WHO WE ARE IN GRADE 3 when strung together, as seen above hanging in the windows. At the beginning of our unit, there was much discussion about what these letters would spell!

Photo © A. Reed 2015

Photo © A. Reed 2015


Photo © A. Reed 2015

Photo © A. Reed 2015

The central idea of this visual art unit is that collaboration can lead to learning, creativity, and an understanding of one’s own strengths and weaknesses. At the outset of this inquiry, each team of two or three students practiced the various aspects of this sculpture’s process (ideating, drawing, painting, building, measuring) and then assessed their own strengths and weaknesses on each one. Students also reflected on their own interests, desires, and favorite activities and made notes in their sketchbooks accordingly for later use.

Photo © A. Reed 2015

Photo © A. Reed 2015

Over the course of the unit, the students taught and learned from one another and all contributed in different ways to the development of the unique projects. The collaborative aspects of the project — making decisions, solving problems, and working/teaching/learning together — was quite challenging for some, but most teams came to appreciate the advantage of a collaborative effort. And throughout the unit, the students also practiced learning to identify stages of their own and others’ creative process.

VIEW THE STUDENTS AT WORK — AND THEIR FINISHED ARTWORKS — HERE:

Teams were assigned a letter of the alphabet to construct in three dimensions (using paper, rulers, scissors, tape, and papier-mâché). Each team then was challenged to transform the 3-D letter into an imaginative, sculptural self-portrait by showing their interests and personalities in, on, and around the sculpture (via drawing, painting, sculpting or collaging). Grade 3’s three-dimensional letters are now exhibited together (in the windows of the upstairs K-1 building hallway), visual, three-dimensional representations of the images, ideas, thoughts, fantasies, and passions particular to these 3rd grade students.

Photo © A. Reed 2015

Photo © A. Reed 2015

Come view the finished artwork both from the vantage point of the basketball court, looking up to the 2nd floor display, and from a much closer viewpoint upstairs in the hallway where the sculptures hang — where you can also read each student’s written reflection about their work (about how “the sculpture is a reflection of me” and why “collaboration is important”).

Photo © A. Reed 2015

Photo © A. Reed 2015

Grade 5’s journey into Aesthetics

The Grade 5 students spent nearly 2 months focusing on AESTHETICS and the central idea that aesthetic expression can be influenced by a culture’s history and values.

Image licensed under a CC Attr-NonComm-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License by Aaron Reed

Image licensed under a CC Attr-NonComm-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License by Aaron Reed

Looking at how traditions are related across genres and over time and at how local traditions are similar and different to one’s home culture, the students focused initially on Japan. Concepts such as “wabi-sabi” (beauty in imperfection, hidden beauty) and “ma” (space, such as the space in between sounds) were focal points, as were various Japanese arts which students were able to explore and research according to their interests.

Image licensed under a CC Attr-NonComm-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License by Aaron Reed

Image licensed under a CC Attr-NonComm-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License by Aaron Reed

In art class, the unit began and ended with each student defining the word “beauty” for him/herself. In the intervening weeks, students engaged in a variety of activities:

  • Two engaging visits from the artists Shoichi & Colleen Sakurai, who (1) introduced the students to the concept of “wabi sabi” and kicked-off their Wabi Sabi Project — creating wearable art from found and discarded materials — and (2) returned to witness the students’ Wabi Sabi Fashion Show several weeks later.
  • Experimented with specific Media, Tools, and Processes in art class, to be used in the creation of their Wabi Sabi Art.
  • Explored an interactive PowerPoint experience (“Japanese Arts & Aesthetic Exploration”) to pursue the traditional Japanese arts they wanted to learn more about: calligraphy, ceramics, flower arranging/ikebana, tea ceremony, architecture, dolls, paper folding/origami, painting, gardens, sculpture, printmaking/ukiyo-e.
  • An Art+Music collaboration: students connected the experience of listening to music (various woodwinds, Japanese/non-Japanese) to the act of visual creation (painting, sculpture). The art was created in art class, then discussed and critiqued in music class with their koto teacher (see more about the Japanese koto here).
  • A visit from some Grade 9 art students, who presented their own research and learning about ‘aesthetics’, ‘wabi-sabi’, Shoichi Sakurai, and Japanese arts. These students also presented their art research workbooks so as to display their working process to the Grade 5 students.
  • The creation of ceramic vessels: after exploring some Japanese “living national treasures” (see this online resource for traditional clay artwork), the students created their own clay vessels based on the various forms and designs/colors found in these traditional Japanese ceramics. The idea was for the students to become part of a historical tradition, using an ancient, natural, local material — clay — to create a basic object which has a long tradition in Japan (ceramic vessels, like teacups, bowls, vases).
  • And all-day visit to Sankeien Gardens field trip, as the culminating event of the unit. This visit included a presentation and exhibition by the photographer Everett Kennedy Brown, the opportunity to use photography to capture elements of beauty through the eyes and lens of the students, and the creation of a haiku poem using the surrounding environment as an influence.
Image licensed under a CC Attr-NonComm-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License by Aaron Reed

Image licensed under a CC Attr-NonComm-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License by Aaron Reed

This arts-driven unit of study was a new unit on which nearly all the Grade 5 teachers (homeroom, arts, and Japanese) collaborated. It has been a very enlightening and engaging experience for students and teachers alike. With both students and teachers having provided one another with constructive feedback, we look forward to developing the unit in more depth next year.

Image licensed under a CC Attr-NonComm-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License by Aaron Reed

Image licensed under a CC Attr-NonComm-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License by Aaron Reed

Kindergarten explores materials and imagination

Our initial central idea in kindergarten this year is that “personal journeys show the way that people change and can lead to new opportunities.” Another of our central ideas is that “materials can be manipulated to suit a purpose”. In art class over the past several weeks, we have been addressing both of these notions as the children have expressed their desires in how to progress with their work.

SLIDESHOW:

So, in art class, we’re exploring a variety of materials and ideas across a few different projects: paintings, cardboard and playdough and clay sculptures, and multi-media sculptures.

We’re taking the time to:

1. to look at, question, enjoy experiencing, discuss the various types of three-dimensional works made by other artists (looking at pictures, watching videos, and examining others’ artworks);

2. to identify the materials and processes other artists use in the creation of their artworks;

3. to realize that our artwork has meaning;

4. to experiment with some different materials that can be used to create artwork (recently, we looked at, touched with our hands, and then used: paper, felt, burlap, paper straws, ribbon, wire, pipe cleaners, foam, string, uncooked pasta, scissors, glue, tape, staplers, hole punches, colored pencils, watercolor paints, markers, and pastels);

5. to explore the various processes that artists can employ with these materials and tools to create what they envision and to discover new ideas.

Through this exploration and by making decisions for themselves, the young students are creating original 3-D artworks, as seen in the slideshow of images above. Ask the students to explain their art as you look at the photos of them at work.

Grade 3’s collaborative creativity & sculptures

After completing their Explorer Unit play productions earlier in the year the Grade 3 students at long last returned to their group “self-portrait” sculpture projects.

The central idea of this unit is that collaboration can lead to new learning, unforeseen creativity, and better understanding of one’s own strengths and weaknesses. At the outset of this project, each team of three students had to practice the various aspects of this sculpture’s process — ideating, drawing, painting, building, measuring — and then divide up the tasks according to each’s strengths.  Over time, the students have learned from one another and, for the most part, have all contributed in many ways to the development of their projects.

Their challenge has been to transform their letters into objects which display their imagination and represent their interests and personalities.  In the end, Grade 3’s three-dimensional letters have been combined — and all hung from the ceiling in the upstairs K-1 building hallway — to create a phrase focused on the central idea of their first unit (WHO WE ARE IN GRADE 3) and to be visually reflective of those images, ideas, thoughts, fantasies, and passions particular to these 3rd graders. Throughout the unit, the students have learned to identify stages of their own and others’ creative process.

Come view the finished artwork both from the vantage point of the basketball court, looking up to the 2nd floor of the K-1 building, and from a much closer viewpoint upstairs in the hallway where the sculptures hang.