Thursday, 28 April 2016

APlethora of puppets

At the end of last term we had a fabulous incursion of a puppeteer from Indonesia. The children from yr 3 up watched the performance from in front and behind the screen. The play was in two parts with the audience divided in front or behind the screen. At intermission the children swapped sides which meant the whole group got to watch the puppet play as it would ordinarily be seen but also they were able to observe how the puppeteer manipulated the puppets. It was very interesting. It has inspired this terms activities in our art studio. 
Ibu Dee and myself have put our heads together and our programmes will support each other. In art we will be making puppets that will be used for plays using Indonesian language in their LOTE sessions. I will also be using them to develop character traits for the writing I do here in the art room.
To make these cute little puppets using long envelopes cut in half the children had to start by looking at the materials available.
Then they made a plan making sure they labled the materials they would be using. PP children were not required to do the labelling but I encouraged them to plan - thinking about the shapes they might use to make ears or eyes and which materials might be best for hair etc.
The older children brainstormed ways they could change a simple piece of paper to be used on their puppet. Here's some ideas they had. 

cut, tear, fold, chop, snip, roll, scrunch, plait, accordion fold, twist, curl

We also though about what type of glue would be best to use. Most of the things could be attached with our glue sticks but some things would require something stronger like PVA or craft glue. We decided to go with PVA because it is strong, clear, good with feathers and pop sticks but it is a little bit supple and things won't snap off when the puppet is being moved about which is what can happen when you use hot glue guns.Each desk has a plate with a little bit of glue and card spreaders within easy reach, these can be topped up as needed but means that it doesn't dry out and get wasted.
Once they had made their plan they collected the materials they needed and production began! Here are some that the yr 2/3 class have made a start on today. The children have used a brown paper bag we have glued in the back of their visual diary to stash any bits and bobs they are using to finish off their puppets next week.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Texture Totems

Thanks to my wonderful partner, Tim, finally our texture totems have been installed outside our art room. 
They were finished last year but they needed cementing into the ground and we changed our minds several times where they should go. Our principal approved of the position outside the art room. So then it was just a matter of finding a time when Tim was available to give me a hand.   
We were inspired by the work of Lex Dickson, but we also looked at a number of different totem poles from different cultures in our investigations leading up to our final activities.   To make these the kids explored textures and lines in our environment. They used their sketch books and cameras to record what they saw.   
They learnt how to make hand built clay hollow forms, focusing on joining techniques. They then added textures and patterns to the surface. The hollow forms the children made were a part of our collaborative art work to be installed in the school but because I am aware that kids love to take things home too, they had the opportunity to create an individual totem on a satay stick using air hardening clay.   
  These little totems had to contain objects or symbols that communicated something about themselves.    

Thursday, 14 April 2016

It's holidays and I'm busy recharging OR the positive effects of participating in the arts.

In order to get my children into the school I believe suited their needs best ( especially for my slightly left of centre son who has a learning problem- a form of dyspraxia. ) I left my little house with a studio and bought a new one within the boundary of my desired school. It meant my mortgage doubled and I had no studio space. The house was in dire need of some tlc, the oven door was being held shut with the aid of a gate latch that some ingenious person had attached. So there was much to be done before my studio space was considered. I do not regret it for one minute. My son went from barely being able to read to passing his TEE gaining a place at uni doing his Honors - first class Honors and is now considering where he will do his PH.D. while working as a Uni tutor. My daughter has done very well also - she's recently won a scholarship to do an exchange to a Uni in Japan. So great outcomes for my kids ... But poor old mama lost her studio, I tried to eek out a small corner at the end of my patio when I managed to get together some funds. But it was cramped and hot or very cold and as I found out last year it leaked ruining much of my resources. 
So finally I have cleared a space in my back yard and built myself a new studio space, it's big enough to move about in. It's warm and dry or cool being insulated and will be even more so when I install the air con! Best bit is I can work on something for a little while and leave it out and come back to it. I've spent the last couple of days in there and have found it very therapeutic. Today's world bombards us with information, we are constantly at people's beck and call with phone pings alerting us to new stuff. A lot of information comes at us in 30 second sound bites. We tend to gloss over the surface of things and the days seem busier than ever. No wonder we're stressed. Spending time in my studio these last couple of days has reminded me just how important it is to take time to focus and meditate - mindfulness is the buzz word of today. When I become absorbed in a pice of art work time seems to become irrelevant actually - it's as if it's like honey, moving but rich and thick. If you meditate, or are an artist of some sort you'll know what I mean, I believe runners call it being in the zone. 
Thinking along these lines has made me reflect that apart from the syllabus content and the literacy and numeracy outcomes achieved through the visual arts, my subject area has an important job in providing children the opportunity to become focussed and has many health benefits. These musings on my part are supported by scientific studies follow this link to read about some here I have a "speak-o-meter" in the art room which goes from thoughtfully silent through to loud and clear all can hear. And sometimes I let the kids chatter away as exchange of ideas is important. However sometimes I will insist on quiet and focused work because I want them to have the opportunity to 'get into the zone' sometimes as the kids work the whole class gradually falls silent as they focus on their art work. After such times I ask them about their art work and how they feel about it most children will admit after these times they have achieved some of their best work - even those chatter boxes who are reluctant to admit that their work can benefit from some quiet time ;)
So this holidays turn the telly off grab a handful of anything that will make a mark and create! Or take time to visit a gallery - there are studies to prove there's both educational and health benefits to that too! Here and here.

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Mixed media starry night

Yr 2 Wax resist, frottage, collage completed.

Using different types of lines and showing space using position on the page, size and overlapping. 



The art of writing part 2

Somewhere I have started the art of writing part one, but I'm trying to use my iPad because I use it extensively in my classroom for my planning, and recording the kids work. Because of this it is the easiest way to reach the photos I need to share here on the blog. However I'm new to blogging iPad style and can't find my original draft.
Long story short, I have been asked to support the improvement of literacy and numeracy outcomes for the kids more formally than previously. However I am a firm believer that the arts done properly (not just pumping out crafty activities) can actually foster learning in both literacy and numeracy. There is research that supports this too. If you look in the side bar of this blog you will find links to some interesting articles about this. Anyway.... 
After researching the NAPLAN results from last year and looking at the suggestions for improving writing and exploring ways of developing ideas I started this term with most classes looking at art works that had a strong narrative theme. We used the VTS strategy to explore the work and came up with possibilities of what was happening in the picture and what it was that made us think that was the case. From there we discussed what might have led the characters there and what might happen next. 
We watched some examples of traditional Japanese kamishibai stories and dicussed plot development and had a go at developing our own stories using different frameworks across different year levels. Some of the younger children created a whole class set of illustrations for a story.  The children from the year 3 classes up had to select one of a number of art works as an inspiration to develop their own stories and keep in mind that they would be sharing them with the kids in their buddy class. Once they had their stories planned we set about creating the illustrations for our own mini kamishibai theatre stories.  We watched a little bit of this contemporary performance artist in Japan using traditional and modern kamishibai techniques ( it's what inspired the iPad extension activity for this unit)  
We made observations of Japanese illustrations and woodblock prints and discussed their style. We found they had bold black outlines  , they had colours that were clean and clear but not bright, the colours had different values, light and dark colours, there were lots of patterns and nature in almost every picture. The pictures had details to tell the story and they filled the picture space well with the action filling most of the page for illustrations. 
The children were asked to think about these things as they created their illustrations for their story.
After making their illustrations for each part of their story, it gets a little complicated. You have to write the text for picture one on a piece of lined paper an glue it on the back of the title page and then the text for illustration two on the back of illustration one. This is because as you draw out the title page you read the text for your first illustration which is still inside the little theatre! Eventually with the use of multiple demonstrations, illustrations and number lines on the whiteboard we've all got it! (I hope!)
As an extension activity some children will use the a book maker app to turn their physical theatre story into an electronic version. Until I can work out how to share the book maker app results you'll have to enjoy some of the still illustrations.