Ever since my trek to the NAEA conference, I have been thinking a lot about how we have students create art. In a couple of the workshops I went to, there was a lot of discussion about how most students create teacher directed art lessons. When every child makes the exact same thing as their peers, many people considered that a successful art project. I have always enjoyed allowing my students freedom to create while having their projects be cohesive enough that they can be hung together in a grouping.
When one of the third grade teachers came to me and asked me for art that she could take over to our local Trader Joe’s for display., I again was thinking about my time at NAEA.
For this lesson, I gave my students the direction that we needed to create pieces that looked like they were part of a collection. We talked about what types of things Trader Joe’s sells and what would look nice on display and landed on plants and flowers.
They all drew a plant in sharpie, put it in a container, painted it with watercolor, leaving white space around it. They were free to draw any type of plant that they wanted to and put it in a container of their choosing. I pulled up reference pictures and projected them onto our screen for them to look at.
The third grade learns about the history of our community. Part of that history includes the Native American tribes that lived here before anyone else.
They often take a field trip to the Kumeyaay Interpretive center and see a replica of an Ewaa, grind acorns, paint rocks and learn about the tools, food, lifestyle and culture of these people.
To complement the study of the Kumeyaay, students created these paper pots. We looked at images of Kumeyaay pottery, learned how it was made and then cut out our ollas from paper. I do not have a kiln, so we cannot easily do clay lessons.
We also looked at images of petroglyphs and petrographs from our county. We learned that most of the Kumeyaay pottery was not decorated but did have fire clouds from the Raku firing process they used. We also learned that Kumeyaay pottery is still being made today.
I allowed the students to use images from pictographs and petroglyphs to add more color to their pottery if they chose to. They glued their finished pots onto simple backgrounds when complete.
This lesson came about from working in a third grade classroom. A teacher asked if I could sub for her and if I had an art project that would tie in with her Kumeyaay unit. This idea came from the numerous greek urn and other paper pottery lessons I have seen over the years.
I created a powerpoint about 6 years ago to teach kids about Kumeyaay pottery when I was a volunteer art docent at my children’s school. For this lesson, I showed the students that 6 year old power point. We talked about the different shapes a kumeyaay pot might be and what they were used for.
Students folded their paper in half and drew a pottery shape on the paper. They cut the shape out then used chalk pastel to add pictographs to the pots as well as smudges that would represent the raku firing. They were told that Kumeyaay pottery is largely undecorated but for this lesson, we would make an exception.
The classroom teacher supplemented the lesson by having the students write a poem about their art.