Monday, November 26, 2012

Places to PLAY!

During our first semester this school year, Kindergarten through Second Grade excitedly explored the possibilities of paper sculpture as they constructed these whimsical structures, inspired by playgrounds, theme parks, and other fun places to play!
We began this unit by discussing the difference between 2-dimensional (2D) art and 3-dimensional (3D) art.  Due to space limitations, we did not have the opportunity to do much of anything sculptural last year, so this was a very exciting topic for my students!  We talked about all different kinds of sculptures (and the materials used to make them) and looked for examples in the classroom.
In the weeks before to this unit, students had been exploring line in different ways through drawing and painting (click here to see an example of some of the ways we have done this in the past.)  Students were introduced to some starting-point ideas for how to manipulate the flat paper strips to transform them into three-dimensional lines - zigzags, wavy lines, spirals and more!  We referenced the art of origami, and how paper has a physical memory that helps it hold it's shape when you fold or bend it. 
  To attach the lines to their card-stock base paper, students used paintbrushes and cups of glue to paint the glue onto any surface that touched another.  The students shared glue cups and brushes in pairs, which worked out perfectly.  Whenever a new line was glued, we practiced counting slowly from 1-5 Mississippi while holding the ends of each line to help it secure in place.  We worked on these for two class periods so that the students could add details or build on dry secure lines from the day before.
 I originally did this unit with Kinder and First Grade only.  The other students were so excited when they saw them drying in the art room that I decided to try it with Second Grade as well.  For their unit, I added a few specific challenges - overlapping lines, repetition of a particular element, and the use of smaller line segments.

I enjoyed listening to students explain different parts of their sculpture - "this is the long, curly water slide" or "this is the triple loop roller coaster!"  There were also segments that represented cars, people, signs, lights, and more.  I love how naturally young minds understand and utilize abstract symbolism.
A few students chose to make their sculptures symmetrical.  Those compositions stood out in particular - that challenge could be another level of concept/skill to add for an older grade level!
The best part for many students  - they got take their dried sculptures home on the third day.  They were ecstatic!  What a fun, imaginative introduction to sculpture!

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