Friday, November 15, 2013

Second Grade Havdalah Spiceboxes

Second graders created beautiful spiceboxes with Sculpey, a polymer clay. The spicebox is used on Havdalah, a ceremony bidding goodbye to the Sabbath. We smell the sweet spices like cloves to remind us to have a "sweet" week.

As an introduction to the project, we looked at spiceboxes made of metal, ceramic, and wood.

For the base, they created a simple pinch pot. For the decoration, they chose colors with contrast and they flattened and rolled the colors together to create a spiral. Then, they rolled clay thin to create an outside layer. I sliced up the clay and they adorned their pinch pots. Here are some of the beautiful results!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

First Grade Color Theory

First graders have been exploring the color wheel!

They learned about primary colors (red, yellow, and blue), and through projects based in experiential learning, they discovered how to mix and blend primary colors to create secondary colors (orange, green, and purple). Each project builds upon the next, as the color theory gets more complex. This week, they learned about complementary colors, which are pairs of colors that enhance each other- for example, blue and orange. They observed that Jewish painter Sonia Delaunay often juxtaposed complementary colors in her abstract paintings, and that Van Gogh used a blue background in a self-portrait to amplify the orange of his beard. 

For the first activity, I used a lesson with a game format. I told them that they needed to create a collage using primary colors, but that I'd be trying to "trick" them by giving them all the colors. I acted quite dramatic when a student picked up a purple piece of paper. I walked around offering them extra materials, and they had to say "yes please" to primary color materials or "no thank you" to secondary color materials. They gladly accepted blue glitter, but told me politely to put the purple ribbon back in the closet.

We looked at a work of art by Roy Lichtenstein, who often used primary colors in his works.

Another artist who often used primary colors is Piet Mondrian.

Here are some of the collages!

The next class, I introduced them to secondary colors. I told them that we would be making a color wheel, and that their project was to create circles with each color we had talked about- red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple. To their surprise, when they got to their seats, all they had was red, yellow, and blue! They had to figure out how to make their own secondary colors by mixing and blending paints. When the paints dried, they created their own color wheels:

The next week, we looked at pictures of Marc Chagall's stained glass windows from Jerusalem and they used layers of red, yellow, and blue cellophane to create secondary colors. I hung them up on the windows and the art room looks so beautiful!

This week, we explored complementary color pairs- blue/orange, red/green, and purple/yellow. Complementary colors are used for emphasis because they amplify each other when juxtaposed.  We looked at paintings by Sonia Delaunay, who often used complementary colors.  

The first graders drew circles and shapes and made sure to make the best and brightest drawing by putting the pairs of complementary colors together. Here is one example:

I developed this unit several years ago, and I love how it is both sequential and completely experiential. Each project helps the first graders see colors in a new way, through a variety of different media. And because the learning is based in experience, it really sticks with them! I have students who are in fourth grade who still point it out whenever I wear complementary colors.