Archive | January, 2012

Chinese Paper Lanterns

26 Jan

January Lesson for Room 10 & 8

Happy New Year!  This month in Room 10 & 8 we talked about the Chinese New Year;  The year of the Dragon.  We discussed one of the traditional ways of celebrating – Chinese Lanterns!- and celebrated by  making some of our own!


  • To learn about the history of Chinese Lanterns and how their symbolism relates to the Chinese New Year.
  • To study and learn Chinese Characters, their meanings, and how to write them using different line types.
  • To create a Paper Chinese lantern with original student artwork including at least two Chinese characters.

We started the lesson by discussing the history of the Chinese lantern.  The Chinese have been using lanterns since 250 BC to celebrate special events.  Each year, on the Lunar New Year, Chinese celebrate with a lantern festival, hanging hundreds of lanterns in the streets in hopes of seeing the spirits of loved ones.

Students then studied the Top 10 Lucky Chinese Symbols, looked at pictures of dragons and thought about other images that were important to them.  After sketching their designs out in pencil,  students painted their designs on red construction paper using diluted speedball ink and bamboo brushes.  After the ink dried, students crafted the lanterns and embellished them with glitter and yarn.

Here is a link for the Top 10 lucky symbols:

Here is a link for folding, cutting & pasting the lanterns into shape:

While students were waiting for the ink to dry, we filled the time with Chinese new year mazes, puzzles and coloring pages.  I found them at:

Art docents then hung the lanterns from the ceiling outside Room 10 and Room 8  just in time for Loyal Heights own New Year Parade!


12 x 18 red construction paper

bamboo brushes (but any brush will work)

speedball ink diluted with water (you could also use watercolor)

water cups

yellow/gold yarn


hole puncher

Comments: Bamboo brushes paint thick lines.  Encourage students to sketch their Chinese characters and other images large so that they are easy to paint.

Art Docent: Kimberly Albert, Britt Sutherland


Continuous Contour Line – 3rd grade

16 Jan

Continuous Contour Line lesson with Room 13


Today we are going to create continuous contour line drawings. This is a technique where a whole image is created without picking up the pencil (or pen or brush, etc) from the paper surface. It’s tricky sometimes but a lot of fun to try!

Remember that line is an element of art that helps us to show shape and movement through straight, angular or curvy markings on paper.

What is a continuous line?

A continuous line keeps going and doesn’t end until the drawing is finished. It can show the outside and inside shape of an object. For third graders, it is the same idea as the cursive writing where the line creating the letters moves along and doesn’t end until the last letter of the word.

What is contour? A contour is the line that defines a form or edge – an outline. Contour drawings follow the visible edges of a shape. There are also inside lines which show contour by outline the most dramatic shapes showing on the inside.

Blind contour drawing is studying a subject with your eyes and not looking at your hand that is drawing on the paper. This allows you to look carefully and see the contours and is a good warm up drawing.

Artist: We showed pictures of the art created by the Canadian artist, Emmanuel Claudais. He works in Montreal as an illustrator and has been a painter for 30 years along with working in stained glass. He is an art teacher of about sixty students and director of his own Art Gallery. He has made 52 animated capsules for the Discovery channel’s TV series, “How it’s Made”. We also showed a few of these animated capsules to the kids which are a fascinating example of his art and this technique.

Art Activity: Creating 4 drawings using the continuous contour technique
As we make our drawings remember:

-Keep your pencil or pen always touching the paper as you draw, making one continuous line. If you accidentally pick the pencil up then put it down in the place where you picked it up and keep going. There are no mistakes and you can go back over lines again to get your pencil to a new location.

-Look at the object on your desk and see the outer edge and any bigger inner shapes. Start at one side of the object with your eyes and using your pencil draw that side and the rest of the object making a continuous line describing WHAT YOUR EYES ARE SEEING in front of you.

-The picture will have a loose and flowing style. Funny lines are OK and don’t need to be fixed.

-Go slow and steady. Carefully look at the object with your eyes as you draw.

-After a few practice pictures with pencil on newsprint we’ll do a final piece that will be an ink drawing on white paper. If we have time we will finish with colored pencils inside the black lines to add another element of design to our art. Color.

Have fun with this! This is one way to use line to describe an object through your picture which is a your art work.

Drawings for students to try:
1. Draw a five pointed star with the lines crossing in the middle as first example for newsprint drawings. This is an easy and familiar example to let them practice keeping their pencils on the paper.

2. Water Bottle from their desk is the second pencil drawing on newsprint

3. Next try a Blind Contour of a vegetable(s) or water bottle with pencil on newsprint.

4. Final drawing on White paper with black marker of a water bottle, vegetables or you can try the flower and vase, or for a bigger challenge you can try and draw your shoe. Finish the drawing with colored pencils only inside the ink lines.

Closing Comments: Conclusion: After clean up we held an art walk in the room to admire each other’s work. We remembered that our comments are descriptive and positive. The students enjoyed seeing the drawings. The final ink drawing was harder for them as it felt more permanent and so they wanted it to be careful rather then loose and flowing. I might use pencil next time. They loved adding color to them. *Thanks to Jen Clark, a parent in room 2 who inspired this lesson with her own! Jen saw Emmanuel Claudais’s work on a Discovery/Science Channel show called “How It’s Made” where he’s done a number of real-time contour pieces as an intro to the final segment of the show. You can find it streaming on Netflix if it’s not still running on the Science Channel. I found artist information and photos of some of his paintings on the Fine Art America Website where they are for sale.

Room 13, 3rd grade, Ms. Vontver
Docent/s: Jill Mount


Art Elements/Principles/Artists Reviewed: Emmanuel Claudais, Line

Alexander Calder’s Mobiles

6 Jan

Mobile – a sculpture frequently of wire and sheet metal shapes with parts that can be set in motion by air currents

In our case, we will be making mobiles that will hang and use balance.

Stabile – an abstract sculpture or construction similar in appearance to a mobile but made to be stationary

• Calder invented a new type of sculpture. His new works were called mobiles because they move.
• Instead of anchoring these three-dimensional works to the ground, Calder usually suspended them from the ceiling to allow them to float freely in space.
• To make a mobile, he attached brightly painted metal shapes to wire, using trial and error to balance each one.
• He usually cut natural forms that looked like leaves and petals rather than hard-edge geometric shapes.
• His use of industrial materials—steel, aluminum, and wire—was new. When Calder’s mobiles move with the breeze, they change shape and cast interesting shadows.
• Some even “sing” as their movable parts rub against each other.

Calder still made regular sculpture, or “stabiles”, that sits firmly on the ground. Calder’s stabiles are huge, bright, sheet-metal sculptures that are designed to fill city plazas, parks, and sculpture gardens.


Gather some materials

Map out your idea first on your desk

Simplify your idea… focus on balance… with eye catching – free from – shapes

Start building

Be flexible with your design as you WILL need to tweak it to get it to balance properly

Start over if you need to

Know when to STOP and be done with your design
Wire Hangers
Wire (telephone wire, jewwlry wire, copper wire)
Colored wooden beads, metallic origami paper, cellophane, buttons, yarn, etc.
Wire cutters
**Cut paper for writing name to hang from hanger


Closing Comments: Once the kids figured out that they could bend and warp the wire hangers to make their mobiles “do” certain things for them, their creative juices really flowed at that point. SOme unraveled the hanger to create a completely unique design. Some children really built upon their designs to create the classic Calder cascading look of pieces flowing from one to the other.

Hang your name tag on the hanger when finished
Lesson Title: Alexander Calder’s Mobiles
Room#, Grade, Teacher: Rm. 7, 3rd, Saltsman
Docent/s: Marcie Guthrie, Jim Bargfrede

Name: Marcie Guthrie
Art Elements/Principles/Artists Reviewed: Form, Alexander Calder

Lines into Shapes

1 Jan

Objective:  Show common lines, then show what happens to those lines when they intersect and overlap.

Lines can have expression on their own. But when overlapped and intersected, they create shapes. Sometimes recognizable shapes, sometimes abstract shapes.

The 1st project:

Using their initials to draw lines creating shapes on the paper. Each initial is drawn large and overlapping on top of each other so that the shapes combined, creates even more shapes.

The kids practiced this on their blank newsprint. Then copied their favorite design on the final piece. Traced their pencil with BLACK oil pastel. Making sure to continue the lines and shapes to the outer edge of their paper. Then colored in the shapes. They had to repeat each color at least one time.

The 2nd project:
Same concept, except the student used free form lines to create shapes. Limiting the sheet to no more than 5 lines. Making sure to intersect and overlap their lines. And repeating colors at least one time for each color.

Closing Comments/Observations: Most kids couldn’t believe that just 2 letters overlapped could create such cool shapes. And were amazed that it most cases their initials seemed to almost “disappear” once they colored in all the shapes. Some children used just 2 colors, repeating them in a pattern, while others used as many colors as they could and repeating them at least once.

Room 6, 1st grade, Ms. Wilson
Docent/s: Marcie Guthrie
Art Elements/Principles/Artists Reviewed: Line and Shape, Line creating Shape, intersecting lines, overlapping lines