End of Semester Round-Up: ART

I am not a trained artist. I took one art class in 6th grade and an art appreciation course during my first semester in college. I have taught arts and crafts at a summer camp, but other than these brief encounters with art, I am completely unqualified to be teaching the subject. However, I have a fabulous co-teacher who is a real artist, and his artistic ability combined with my decent classroom management have made us a pretty good team. I was sad to lose two of my art classes back in July (now I teach grade 8 remedial math during those time slots), but I am still teaching grade 2 art on Mondays and Wednesdays.

This semester, we have studied:

– lines: horizontal, vertical, diagonal, curvy, zig-zag, and wavy

– patterns: using the above lines to create cool designs

– shading: using colored pencils with different levels of pressure to create shadows and differences in texture

– colors: primary vs. secondary; warm vs. cool

– water color technique: how to hold the brush, how much water to use, how to mix colors

– Plus, a Mothers’ Day project: water color painting of an animal mama with her baby

The class of 32 is a fun group. Most are very enthusiastic about their artwork, while some race each other to see who can finish first. I emphasize quality and taking one’s time, but it’s really exciting for a 7-year-old to be the first to start the next project. I try to tell them how boring it will be if they finish it too quickly and have nothing else to do, but this has little effect. They also know that they’ll probably get to draw in their sketchbooks, which they love.  Timing is the toughest part — quick finishers, painfully slow workers, and those in the middle. I keep in-between projects on hand, but I try to begin the main projects with the whole class. One in-between project actually ended up being really neat. The kids mixed water color paint to convey emotion. The idea was to guide them toward relating warm colors with more passionate feelings like anger, excitement, and happiness, and cool colors with feelings like sadness, loneliness, and tiredness. They understood and totally ran with it.

I am always impressed with their creativity and some of their natural abilities. Several of them are leaps and bounds above my ability level. Thankfully, my co-teacher and our assistant are both very talented and can draw a perfect elephant (or anything else) on command!

I’m always using Pinterest to find ideas, as well as some great books that I found in the school library and blogs like this one. My co-teacher is obviously a great resource too — I learned A LOT from him last year, and I continue to each day that we teach together.

This has been a great learning experience, and it’s so fun to teach little kids. I think the primary level is where my heart is. Finally, leading (instead of assisting) has been great because I no longer feel bored out of my mind, like I did for much of last year.

Here are just a few samples of their artwork.


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