Sunday, April 28, 2013

Drawing Hands

Do you need an idea to challenge kids to draw their hands? Here it is!

Drawing hands can be very challenging. (Whoa! Even for some of us adults!) There's a lot there- wrinkles, knuckles, nails, maybe even a hangnail. But what if your students are up to the challenge? Here's a good project to try. You won't be sorry!

When we start this project, the kids practice drawing their hand in many different positions on rough draft paper- pointing, fists, peace signs and open hand. Taking the time to look carefully. Your hands have a lot of detail.

My one secret I tell them- is to draw what ever is largest first. So the kids know, when it comes to hands, draw the palms/wrist first, then the fingers.

They then practice blending skin tones with colored pencils using the cross cross hatch method. On the finished project they will have to do a lot of shading along each finger, the palm and the wrist on the side they want the shadow on. (One problem- Just make sure they are consistent on the side they are drawing the shadows on. Finger, palm and wrist shadows should all be on the same side. It can get confusing for them.) The colors we use range from light peach to darker browns depending on their skin tone. 

American Sign Language

Next,  the kids get a  work sheet that has a copy of American Sign Language alphabet symbols. The kids then have to pick a word that's important to them and draw it using the hand symbols,  spelling it out with ASL.

The sample that is shown at the top of the post is a drawing of the student's name, but they don't have to draw their name. The kids have drawn many other words such as peace, love, laugh, football, soccer, Red Sox, Patriots, etc. Any thing that means something special to them.

Along with the hands, the kids have to draw symbols that go along with the word they have chosen. You can see a 'peace symbol' in the picture above; along with the word peace spelled out in sign language.

 Do you have your students draw their hands? I'd love to hear about it! You can comment below.

Ps. Here's another art project that involves hands.

Friday, April 5, 2013

What Not To Do- Sticky Notes Again

We all want (or should have) our objectives and exemplars posted for the kids to readily see. It's is a good strategy. It helps the kids to know and see what it is they're trying to achieve. But sometimes, is good for the kids to have an example of what not to do. It will help kids to avoid the pitfalls of a lesson. And we know every lesson has at least one pitfall. This is another time  to rely (again) on sticky notes

I always try to have an example on display of a student's work (who's moved on, so not to embarrass anyone) that looks pretty good and almost fulfills all the objectives. Where ever there is something that has not fulfilled an objective, I put a blue sticky note next to it. On the sticky note, write what could have been done differently to fulfill the objective.

The kids can go up and look at the art work to see what could have been done differently. Then they can look at their own work and adjust.

Do you have any strategies to help students to avoid a pitfall when teaching a lesson?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Mandalas- Analogous Colors, Symbol Circles

What is a Mandala?

Mandala is a Sanskrit word meaning circle and completion. It is also a symbol of wholeness. Mandala symbols are created in many cultures- from Tibet to the Navajo Nation. Mandalas do have a spiritual meaning for some cultures. I explain that to the kids, but I really don't go into the spirituality aspect in any great detail when I introduce the lesson. We just touch upon it.


There's a lot going on with this lesson. I use the Mandalas to help the kids think about symbols and symbolism that  reflects or connects to them. We also work with blending analogous colors.  Also, the kids have to use a compass and then a protractor to create angles. ( Yea, a math connection, no less!)

What We Do

The kids, first draw a circle with the compass. Next, we use a protractor to divide the circle into six  even 'pizza slices.'

Working with a compass and protractor

The kids then have to think of three symbols that mean something to them. Two of the symbols alternate three times each, inside the circle. The third symbol is drawn three times outside the circle.

I then review all the analogous colors using a color wheel. And, I demonstrate how to blend their color choices- three cool analogous colors, three warm analogous colors.

Practicing blending colors

The kids have to make a rough draft, using their symbols and practicing the blending  colors before they go onto the final draft. 

*Teacher Alert-You have to keep emphasizing that you have to overlap colors to achieve the blending of colors.  A lot of the kids try to do color blocking, (skipping the overlapping and as a result,) not blending.

Once they get their symbols and blending practice down and can work well with the compass and protractor, they're ready to go. It's time to start the final.

Here are some  example of finished Mandalas. 

What do you think of these Mandalas? You can let me know in the comments below.

Also, if you want another art lesson that involves symbolism, take a look at this lesson.