I am extremely fortunate to have a very committed, well connected, passionate community that supports the arts in a very big way. Each year they raise funds to bring in a visiting artist that works with students to make a communal artistic experience or project. Sometimes it's a poet, other years it's a visual artist. This past year, I was fortunate enough to have an incredible amount of freedom when planning the Artist in Residence with our PTA (parent teacher association).
I decided to make the most of our budget and go all in. Now, looking back on this - it was a bold decision to create such a large project, much of which rested on my shoulders knowing I would be 9 months pregnant when all this would come together. But, I wouldn't change a thing, The artists that we worked with were incredible and the experiences and outcomes that the students experienced were nothing short of spectacular. Below is the description of one of the three artist in residence experiences that I built for our elementary students.
I've changed my game plan many a time over the years for what I have available for kids to do after they've told me they're finished, I've told them they aren't, and then they've sat down, worked for 6 more minutes, and come back again to tell me they're done - That pattern sound familiar to anyone else?
I've always had books and magazines available for kids to look through. I've collected how to draw books over the years from the library reject piles and admit that I use the ol' "free draw" idea. But I'm always on the hunt for more. I like the idea of providing TAB influenced after activities. And my thoughts for this upcoming school year are to provide stations of different materials to encouraging reworking of the project that the student has just finished or pushing them to embellish or elaborate on their creations with different supplies that were originally offered.
I'm excited to bring back the Mystery Artist game this upcoming school year. Students see to really enjoy it and it's a great way to introduce an artist or movement and drum up some excitement. Plus, I love to reward kids that go above and beyond.
Every month I post a different artwork on the mystery artist board. Students are encouraged to reflect back on previous artists and artwork that has been explored in the past, to discuss artwork with friends and family and see if they know which artwork is being described, or explore artist books and information during free time in the art room.
Students have all month to talk, look up, think about who was responsible for the artwork and submit one guess. I leave one box low for students to reach blank raffle slips, where they write their name, their guess, and teacher's name. The other box is high up and I usually place their filled out forms up there.
At the month's end I draw a name, if it's correct they win! If it's not, I just keep pulling until I get someone that is correct. At this point, I print a certificate, announce their names over the announcements, and present them with a wrapped art supply, usually something that I picked up as a sample at one of the conferences that I've attended but you could do anything! That's the beauty of it, you could make as big, or little of a deal as you wanted.
Below are the documents that I use. Feel free to take, tweak, or use as is.
Still spending time enjoying time in parks with our new family of four. These two make the days pass quickly.
Before I left on maternity leave I had a really great time printmaking with fourth graders. We were wrapping up our art and culture discovery unit by exploring the process of gyotaku. (Click HERE for a pinterest board full of art and culture from Asia, including some great gyotaku resources). Kids loved learning about the process, and it lead to a great discussion on printmaking.
Our project that resulted from our discussion was a basic relief print using good ol' styrofoam. This group of fourth graders had not experienced printmaking in any form before so I wanted an easy to use, guarenteed success material but a more sophisticated result, so I pushed the engraving and etching examples and held high expectations for lots of fine detail.