Grade 3: Can Comic Strips Save The Environment?

In their homeroom classes, Grade 3 students focused on the environment in Unit 4, learning about some critical global & local issues by focusing on the central idea that the choices people make as they buy and consume things can lead to the creation of waste. And so in art class, we extended that idea into the visual world, looking at how artists combine images and text to convey understandings and beliefs about important societal issues through the key concept of responsibility.

photo © by A.Reed

photo © by A.Reed

Having examined the comic strips and graphic novels of a variety of artists, the students began by sketching characters and drawing styles which are appealing to them. Later they identified a theme or aspect of the unit — waste, litter, recycling, reusing, and so on — which each student found important from his or her work in the homeroom class. From there, students created a simple plot, original characters, and decided what genre of comic strip they would try to create: humor, adventure, mystery, scary, science fiction, or romance.

photo © by A.Reed

photo © by A.Reed

After making rough drafts, students moved on to the final draft, incorporating the drawing process (1. simple shapes & lines, 2. refine the shapes, 3. add the details), text (with speech-bubbles and thought-bubbles), black ink, and color, along with the concept of balance. Lastly, each young artist created a name for his/her new comic strip, labeling it at the top of their creations in whatever font or style they choose.

The students’ finished comic strips are now being exhibited in the stairwell of the K-1 building, along with their original notes of their plans. Throughout the unit, students focused on using appropriate terminology to discuss artwork and on creating an artwork for a specific audience, all while looking at the role of the artist as a contributing member of society.

photo © by A.Reed

photo © by A.Reed

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

In the homeroom classes the Grade 5 students inquired into the central idea that “finding peaceful solutions to conflict leads to a better quality of human life” 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. Our main lens through which we viewed conflict and each person’s approach to the artwork was the concept of PERSPECTIVE.

These young artists initially identified a personal situation of conflict and used this event as a catalyst for their art project. They have spent time reflecting on their perspective on these conflicts, learning different approaches to drawing realistic facial features, and exploring and practicing geometric and organic abstraction in paint. They have now finished putting their new learning together in creating their final self-portraits — attempting to convey their ideas both in a realistic and in an abstract manner. These self-portraits are each made up of:

  • 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, delineated with traditional ink pens, nibs, and ink.
  • 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 evaluated their ideas and the execution of their work by responding to these questions:

  • How does my abstract painting communicate my perspective about conflict?
  • What feeing or message is my facial expression meant to convey?
  • What was new or unusual about the process of creating this self-portrait?

The finished self-portraits and written reflections are now on display upstairs in the Kirin Building. Please come see the students’ amazing work and efforts.

Grade 4 artists use organisms to spur their imaginations

In their homeroom classes, the Grade 4 students have been studying organisms and cultivating their garden. They have been focused on the central idea that “organisms rely on one another” while in art class we’ve been engaged in the visual art inquiry into how “the natural world is a rich source for imaginative artistic creation”, looking specifically at the CONNECTION between the natural world and the imagination as seen in visual art. How do artists combine what they see in the environment around them with what they imagine in their minds? From where do ideas come?

Photo: A. Reed

Students began their two-part drawing project by, first, focusing on organisms (in this case, plants) and on the realistic depiction of them through close observation. We looked at how we focus first on the simple shapes and lines found in the plants’ leaves and stems; then, how we refine the shapes and lines into something more closely approaching the actual plants; and finally, how we add the many small details which brings the image to its realistic conclusion.

Photo: A.Reed

Then the students moved on to the second stage of the project. Having left areas of their paper blank, these young artists then had to tap into their imagination — considering the plant drawing they’d just finished — and continue the drawing by depicting some imaginary, fantastical imagery. We discussed how artists do this: sometimes by thinking of their own interests and drawing those (animals, movie characters, patterns, particular colors); sometimes by closing their eyes and letting their minds wander; sometimes by looking around and noticing pictures or words in their immediate environment, one of which might spur a memory or thought or other image. Students brainstormed many different sources for visual ideas, and they also took risks in trying to depict depth through overlapping and shading and in attempting new techniques of coloring.

Photo: A. Reed

In the end, the Grade 4 artists had the opportunity to practice different approaches to drawing — via observation and fantasy — in the creation of original artworks begun in the natural world and ended in the world of their own imaginations.

Students at work, in-progress artwork, and final drawings:

The 2015 YAMATE ART EXHIBITION

The annual Yamate Art Exhibition has begun!

The exhibition runs from Saturday February 14 to Monday February 23 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 23.

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 114 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!

 

Grade 1’s living creature sculptures NOW ON DISPLAY!

In their homeroom classes, the Grade 1 students are studies the rights and responsibilities of people and living things — looking at how people have an impact on the environment. And the students finished their large 3-dimensional sculptures of each student’s favorite creature — using pencils, paper, paint, staples, foam, toothpicks, buttons, pipe cleaners and various other media — in art class. Over these weeks the young Grade 1 artists have been 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 1 students create environmental treasures

In their homeroom classes, the Grade 1 students are studying 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 are discussing and considering 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 of late have been constructing large, three-dimensional paper sculptures of their favorite living creatures. It is these sculptures — these treasures — which will fill the hallway.

The following video shows the process the 1st graders — 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.

We’ve also read the book The Butterfly’s Treasure (by Schim Schimmel), observing the realistic illustrations and following the old monarch butterfly’s journey around the world as he discovers a particular treasure that exists here on earth. The students have had a variety of reactions to what the butterfly saw on his flight to different parts of the earth. We also had an opportunity to look at photographs of various living things and of the environments that they live in. 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 by this blogger Aaron Reed – you are free to copy, distribute, transmit, and adapt the work

Currently, the students are in the process of finishing their large 3-dimensional sculptures of each student’s favorite creature — using pencils, paper, paint, staples, foam, toothpicks, buttons, pipe cleaners and various other media. Over these weeks the young Grade 1 artists have been learning to express their opinions about art and to engage with and to enjoy a variety of visual art experiences.

Once all the sculptures are complete and the students have had a chance to reflect upon their work, we will turn the 1st grade hallway into our imaginary natural environment, filled with “treasures”: animals, fish, bird, and insects. The students hope you will come visit.

Grade 4 artists use organisms to spur their imaginations

In their homeroom classes, the Grade 4 students have been studying organisms and cultivating their garden. They have been focused on the central idea that “organisms rely on one another” while in art class we’ve been engaged in the visual art inquiry into how “the natural world is a rich source for imaginative artistic creation”.

Photo: A. Reed

Photo: A. Reed

Students began their two-part drawing project by, first, focusing on organisms (in this case, plants) and on the realistic depiction of them through close observation. We looked at how we focus first on the simple shapes and lines found in the plants’ leaves and stems; then, how we refine the shapes and lines into something more closely approaching the actual plants; and finally, how we add the many small details which brings the image to its realistic conclusion.

Photo: A. Reed

Photo: A. Reed

Then the students moved on to the second stage of the project. Having left areas of their paper blank, these young artists then had to tap into their imagination — considering the plant drawing they’d just finished in color — and continue the drawing by depicting some imaginary, fantastical imagery. We discussed how artists do this: sometimes by thinking of their own interests and drawing those (animals, movie characters, patterns, particular colors); sometimes by closing their eyes and letting their minds wander; sometimes by looking around and noticing pictures or words in their immediate environment, one of which might spur a memory or thought or other image. We made available an “imagination box” just in case — a small box with printed words inside of it (“space”, “machine”, “food”, “cartoon”) that might help students tap into their own imaginations.

Photo: A. Reed

Photo: A. Reed

In the end, the Grade 4 artists had the opportunity to practice different approaches to drawing — via observation and imagination — in the creation of original artworks begun in the natural world and ended in the world of their own imaginations.

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!

Grade 3 students complete their environmentally-aware comic strips

The Grade 3 students recently completed their comic strips which follow along with their unit on recycling, reusing, and waste — the central idea of which is that the choices people make as they buy and consume things can lead to the creation of waste. Each student’s personalized comic strip reflects some aspect of their understanding or belief about the effects of consumption, recycling, littering, or creating waste.

The students wrote and sketched as methods of brainstorming ideas, developed simple story lines, created rough sketches in pencil, and have now completed their final versions in pencil, ink, and colored pencil. The students are primarily focused on line, color, and balance in the development of their comic strip creations — aiming to make their images and words clear so that their audience understands their intent.

In this unit, these young artists used appropriate terminology to discuss artwork, and they created artwork for a specific audience. Here are some photos of the finished comic strips and the students in action: