Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Observational Drawing: Nature Studies

Fourth graders began this drawing activity with a brief discussion of the artistic, historical and educational benefits of drawing natural objects from observation in what are referred to as, nature studies. Such drawings require a strong attention to detail and strengthen one's ability to replicate color, texture and shape within a drawing in order to be scientifically accurate. Students were given many objects from nature to choose from, including sea shells, seed pods and bone specimens. Students were then instructed to draw the objects, playing close attention to all necessary details and colors.

Grade Five: Industrial Design: Designing Better Products

Students in grade five were introduced to industrial design and discussed several examples of the kinds of factory-made consumer products industrial designer help conceptualize and construct. Students were led through the multi-step process in which an idea must be carried before a product can be sold in stores to potential customers.

Students were then assigned into "design teams" consisting of groups of 4-5 students. Each team was given a design assignment in which to either improve an existing product or invent a new product for potential purchase. Students had to arrive at a common agreement with their team mates on what the final product would be, and were encouraged to discuss possible features and improvements, and well as functional requirements for their products. Whimsy was allowed, as well as creative exploration, but students were also encouraged to consider practical application of their ideas. After preliminary ideas were drawn out, conceptual sketches when drawn on graph paper and students were required to show a minimum of two views of their product including front view. Labeling of product features, characteristics and special selling points were also required.

Design Assignment: Invent something used for safety or protection when playing sports or outdoor activities. Product: footwear

Design assignment: Invent something to make everyday tasks easier. 
Product: laundry hamper

Design assignment: Improve the design of a method of transportation.

Product: car 

Design assignment: Improve the design of something you use everyday.
Product: bed

Design assignment: Invent something to make everyday tasks easier. 
Product: robotic vacuum

Design assignment: Improve the design of something used for entertainment.

Product: stereo

Design assignment: Invent something to make everyday tasks easier. 
Product: holographic wristwatch

Grade One: Printing A Stencil

First graders continued their exploration of shapes and patterns by examining the minimalist painting, The Gift by Kenneth Noland. Students were led through a discussion and series of questions to help them decipher and understand how Noland created this carefully planned painting in order to repeat the shapes of the circles.

Once the process of stencil-making was explained, students were instructed in making their own stencils and how to print them using tempera paint in a variety of combinations to make repetitive patterns and designs.

Kindergarten: Expressive Masks

Kindergarten students are now beginning their first extensive unit of the school year. This unit deals with various forms of costuming and celebrations. As we think about art which is worn on the body, masks usually come readily to mind. Discussion begins with asking students about the many uses of masks and listing them on the board: disguise, theatrics, festivities, ceremony, protection, etc.

Students are then shown two examples of African masks and are asked for what purpose they think these masks may have been used for. They are also asked to find various shapes, either geometric or free form, within the design and structure of the masks. Kindergarteners are asked about facial expressions and what they are. After making several different facial expressions of their own, students are shown two more examples of African masks and asked to identify their expressions.

This lesson takes several weeks to complete, as even paper masks are very time-consuming to construct. Each week consists of new teacher demonstrations and students are shown two teacher examples which convey strong facial expressions. Students are then instructed to think about what kind of shapes can be used to help convey the expression they will choose to depict on their mask, i.e. how will sharp triangular eyes differ in expression from large, circular eyes? What kind of shapes can be used for eyebrows in a shocked expression, or an angry face? Once the facial expression was completed, students were instructed on embellishing the mask with hair.

Grade Four: Cereal Box Package Design

Fourth graders were shown three consummable items (a bottle of glue, a box of mints, etc) and asked to look carefully are their packaging to identify what all three had in common. Students noticed that all three packages had use of colors, pictures, company logos, and fonts and letterstyles. Students discussed why packages of items we purchase make use of special design elements, and that such elements are planned and designed by artists known as graphic designers. The role of the graphic designer was explained and a list was generated of the many things which employ text and pictures that graphic designers plan, which we use and see everyday.

Students were also shown several examples of laundry detergent bottles and were led to notice that planning all the visual and text elements within package design can convey visual messages to consumers. Classes were then told they would be designing a package for a ficticious cereal brand called ‘Big B’. They were encouraged to invent mascots, logos and company names, as well as slightly change the name to fit an appropriate or interesting idea they had for the cereal. They were required to include pictures and lettering, as well think about fonts and font sizes, colors, placement and visual elements.