Friday, November 9, 2012

Hand Monster Collages

 This is a unit 2nd-5th grade students worked on at the beginning of last school year after we moved from the old art room to the pod area "studio" spaces.  We had worked on these hand monster drawings collaboratively as a warm-up the week before our move, so this was a nice transition into a more complex individual art challenge.
The first step was for students to select a color family to use to create their collage.  The color families the students could chose from were a review of those they had learned in previous years; the older the grade level, the more choices there were given.  Color pallets included: primary (red, yellow, blue), secondary (purple, green, orange), warm (red, orange, yellow), cool (blue, purple, green), neutral (brown, black, grey, white), gray scale, earth tones (browns and greens), complimentary (students chose one pair, such as orange and blue), or analogous (all shades of one color, such as blue.) 
After selecting their color family, students traced their hands and cut the shapes from construction paper to create all the parts of their monster.  Heads, legs, bodies, tails, wings and more - all made from different positions of fingers and hands!   Students tried all sorts of hand gestures, bent and stretched fingers, traced wrists and fingertips and more to get the shapes they wanted.  Such fascinating problem-solving!  One student creatively decided to trace his hand not with a straight line, but with a zig-zag line which gave it a spiky texture.  What a great idea!
Once the collage was complete, students used crayons to add texture, pattern, and small body parts or other details on their monster.  We discussed ideas for elements like pattern and texture by looking at examples of different animal body coverings (scales, fur, spikes, etc.) to think about how their animal might look and feel.  Students chose a second color family for drawing their details.  For example, a student might have chosen primary colors for their collage, then drawn on top of it with neutral colors.  It was so interesting to watch students decide which color families to use for each step so that they could have the colors they wanted available.  We kept track of their choices by making a detailed list on the back of their paper.  Some students took it to another level by asking to chose a third color family to include in their background around the monster!  Very complex thinking.
The students thoroughly enjoyed this unit and often had fun coming back to this idea in their free-time.  I love the simple challenge of having to use your hands to create a shape - this concept could be applied to a drawing, collage, or sculpture of any subject!

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