Batik – in progress!

5th graders have just started a new project learning about the process of Batik. Batik uses hot wax as a resist on fabric to create a design. After the designs are created in wax, the fabric is dyed and left to dry. Once the fabric is dry, then the wax is ironed out of the fabric and you are left with a beautiful piece of work.

Right now, 5th graders are sketching mandala designs to transfer onto fabric where they have started the wax resist process.
 (Students faced blurred for privacy)

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Roy Lichtenstein

Roy Lichtenstein is an American pop artist. Pop is short for popular. Pop Art uses images, ideas and people from popular culture. Comic books are from popular culture and Roy Lichtenstein often used the format of comic book art in his work. He used speech bubbles and onomatopoeias as well as primary and neutral colors.  Often his work featured some sort of drama as well.

Whaam! 1963 by Roy Lichtenstein 1923-1997Randall 5th graders chose an image from popular culture to create a comic book style drawing of their own. Craftsmanship was discussed often in this project. Students were careful to fill the entire space, use contrasting patterns and color neatly using solid lines.

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MMSD Art Standards:

Standard 1: Visual Memory and Knowledge

Students will know and remember information and ideas about art and design around them and throughout the world. 5th graders will identify the purposes, subject matter, stories, feelings or symbols communicated through art.

Standard 3: Designs

Students will design artwork organized by compositional principles. expressive features and sensory qualities. 5th graders will identify and use color, shape, line, texture, space and movement in works of art. 5th graders will identify and use contrast, repetition, emphasis, unity and variety.

Standard 4: Creates

Students will create images and object that communicate and express ideas using varied media, techniques and processes. 5th graders will recognize and use previously introduced elements, media, techniques, and processes and will continue to expand their knowledge which includes: Drawing as a planning tool to interpret and express personal thoughts, Drawing with contour line, textural elements, and value and figure drawing.

Standard 7: Interpreting

Students will interpret the visual experience with a range of subject matter, symbols and ideas. 5th graders will identify subject matter and feeling found in art, identify the narrative qualities of artwork and identify the purpose of various artworks. 5th graders will define, discover and understand symbols and emotional content used in specific artwork.

Standard 9: Making Connections

Students will make connections among the visual arts with other disciplines. 5th graders will recognize endless relationships between the visual arts and other arts and socials studies.

Louise Nevelson

Louise Nevelson was a very strong, Jewish woman who was also a sculptor of assemblages. An assemblage is really just a gathering of things that don’t normally belong together, found objects. Nevelson would take things from the side of the road and put them together. She created unity by painting the sculptures all the same color. We watched part of this video of artists discussing Nevelson’s work. (starting at 1:50)

“I fell in love with black; it contained all color. It wasn’t a negation of color… Black is the most aristocratic color of all… You can be quiet, and it contains the whole thing.” -Louise Nevelson

“Women at that time were supposed to look pretty and throw little handkerchiefs around… well, I couldn’t play that role.” -Louise Nevelson

This assemblage by Nevelson is called Homage to 6,000,000. One art critic claimed “Each box is the same, yet the interiors are each different. This huge installation speaks of the unbelievable number of Jews who died during the holocaust. Perhaps for her, each box was the remnants of a separate life, all combining into a formidable wall of remembrance.” When students analyzed this assemblage, they really understood this idea the artist was trying to get across.


In this portrait of Nevelson, she looks like a living assemblage!

Nevelson by Avedon

Students chose to create their assemblages in a radial symmetrical design, asymmetrical design or mirror image symmetrical design. The found objects were found in my grandma’s basement! My grandma is an artist herself and when she moved into assisted living, she had to give up most of her supplies. Some of the boxes had stuff in it I never thought I could ever use, but it was perfect for an assemblage project! Fake butterflies, small straw hats, parts of old blinds, fake flowers, doll heads, doll hair and so many more odd and interesting things.

IMG_4113Students loved going through this box of miscellaneous stuff! I think I could have made this project two months instead of two class periods and they would have been just fine with that.

And some of the finished assemblages..

MMSD Art Standards:

Identify the purposes, subject matter, stories, feelings, or symbols communicated through art.
Identify and use color, shapes, lines, texture, space, and movement in works of art.
Identify and use contrast, repetition, emphasis, unity, and variety.
Use creative problem solving skills and risk taking skills.
Describe artwork and will continue to develop this skill.
Recognize an expanding number of artists and their styles.
Recognize artwork representing various cultures, gender, media, time, and subject, ulilizing developing resources from the Chazen.

5th gr Color Wheels


MMSD Art Standards:

Designs: Identify and use color, shapes, line, texture, and space in works of art. Identify and use contrast, repetition, emphasis, unity, and variety

Creates: Recognize and use previously introduced elements, media, techniques, and processes and will continue to expand their knowledge which includes: The techniques and processes of color mixing which include secondary colors, tints and shades as well as complimentary colors.

Produces: Be aware of the proper use of various kinds of brushes.

Unity Days – Collaborative Circle Weavings

Unity Days have quickly become a loved Randall tradition! We have two Unity Days in fall and two in the spring. Unity Days have a dual purpose. One, to get assessments done by pulling students out to complete them throughout the day and two to mix everyone up by grade level and experience lots of different community building activities throughout the day.

This year’s Unity Day in the art room, students were all involved in collaborative circle weavings. Creating art work in circle patterns or mandala designs have long been known in many cultures and religions to bring restorative benefits and meditative qualities to the artist and the observer.

Part of an art show for the Race to Equity Summit through the YMCA, this piece is currently hanging at the NEW Central Madison Library in the beautiful children’s room!

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MMSD Art Standards:

Designs: Describes how different expressive features and principles cause different responses.

Reflecting: Understand that there are various purposes for creating works of visual art.

Interpreting: Understand that different subject matter and ideas communicate meaning.

Understanding: Know that the visual arts have both a history and specific relationship to various cultures.


MMSD Social Emotional Standards:

Emotional Development and Personal Emotions: Students will demonstrate a variety of strategies to calm themselves. Students will practice calming strategies and describe their effect on emotions

Emotional Development and Social Skills:  Students will use language to interact with others and communicate effectively in activities and discussions. Students will describe how words, tone and body language are used to communicate with others positively and negatively. Students will work cooperatively with partner and in small groups. Students will identify and practice strategies for resolving conflicts constructively. Student will work cooperatively and productively in a group to accomplish a set goal.



Contour Line Self Portraits

Our first project of the year is underway! We are starting with all the grade levels doing the same thing, self portraits.

We began by looking at a drawing by Henri Matisse called Magnolia. magnolia

Students noticed that there was no color and it looked like a coloring book drawing. These lines are called contour lines. They define the edge of something or an outline. They also noticed some lines were thicker, some were thinner, some lighter and some darker. The differences in the lines is called line quality. Students were encouraged to use different line qualities with their contour line self portraits as well.


Students started by drawing with pencils first. They learned to use light, sketchy lines from this interview with Mr. Pencil so they could trace their lines with Sharpie and erase their pencil marks later. Then they brainstormed words about themselves to use for the background of their drawings.




IMG_2908Here is the finished project!


MMSD Art Standards:

Designs: Identify and use color, shapes, line, texture, and space in works of art. Identify and use contrast, repetition, emphasis (center of interest).

Creates:  Use different media, processes, and techniques to communicate ideas, Take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance their art experiences, and stories. Drawing with contour line. The techniques and processes of color mixing which include secondary colors.

Reflecting:  Understand that there are various purposes for creating works of visual art. Understands that there are different responses to specific artworks.

Interpreting: Understand that different subject matter and ideas communicate meaning. Select and use subject matter, symbols, and ideas to communicate meaning. Create artwork with various subject matter, symbols, and emotional content.


MMSD Social Emotional Standards:

Positive Self Identity: Students will identify and explore values. Students will reflect on their personal values.

5th Graders “Hired” in the Art Department on New Tim Burton Production

The last 5th grade unit that I was a part of was another that I designed and began teaching myself but was unable to finish as my time student teaching in the elementary came to a quick end and I had to move on to high school. I am a huge fan of mixed media art, printmaking, and movies so I decided to implement all of those elements into 1 unit and “hire” the 5th graders as my Art Department who would be working as character designers and developers, storyboard artists, and as printmakers.

Many people are familiar with the movie director, Tim Burton, who is famous for such films as Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Big Fish, Frakenweenie, as well as many others. What many people are unfamiliar with is that he is also an artist and that he designs all of his characters himself and develops his storyline from there. There is a featured article in The Scholastic Art magazine on Tim Burton’s artistic philosophy and process that inspired this unit.

I believe that his artistic philosophy is extremely important to teach young artists and I posted some of his quotes around the room for students to see.


And the quote that inspired the our lesson……


We began our unit looking at, analyzing, and interpreting character drawings done by Tim Burton but I kept the fact that all of the drawings were done by Tim Burton a secret in the beginning. Some character drawings I showed the students included…

We discussed the common themes in how all of the characters were drawn/painted, the style that the artist used and we learned the terms disproportionate, elongated, fanciful, gestural, expressive, and surreal. I also asked the students to come up with a quick back story for each character just by looking at them and what they came up with was absolutely hysterical and very creative! I asked if they knew who the artist was that created all of these characters and the most common response I received was Pablo Picasso, so I showed them a few more characters done by the artist that they might recognize 🙂

I then congratulated them on being “hired” as the art department on an up and coming Tim Burton film and there job was to design and develop a character and create a storyboard to “present to Time Burton”. In order to make our art room seem more like the art department on a movie set I gave each day we worked a title.

Day 1 of Production – CHARACTER DESIGN

On the first day their task was to design and draw an interesting character using Tim Burton’s style of drawing as inspiration.


We finished designing and drawing our characters and then transferred those character drawings onto linoleum blocks and began carving out our blocks in preparation for printmaking. We discussed simplifying and negative space. Everyone had a great experience carving out linoleum blocks for the first time, just like professional printmakers. They will be using their character prints and cutting and pasting them into their storyboards rather than drawing out the character every single time in each frame.


I showed the students a short video of how a professional storyboard corresponds to the actual movie and we discussed narration and storytelling through visuals. We were going to be doing a slightly shorter storyboard and I asked the students to sum up their character’s story in only 4 frames. They were given a variety of supplies and asked to draw out each of the 4 major scenes but not forgetting to leave room in each scene for their character print. The imaginations and creative ideas I witnessed working with the students was absolutely amazing.

Sadly I wasn’t able to be there when the students did the printmaking and finished their storyboards as my student teaching obligations took me to West High School but I can’t wait to see all of the finished products in upcoming blog posts!

Super Science Saturday Art Exploration Station

As many of you know, Super Science Saturday is always a big hit in the Madison community. This year, my cooperating Art teacher was approached by some of the organizers and asked if she would be interested in organizing an exploration station that integrated Art into Science. I instead asked if I could organize the project as I want to get as much experience as possible working school events while still a student teacher.

Over the few weeks prior to Super Science Saturday I asked for any student volunteers to join me in the Art room at lunch as I wanted the exploration station to be as student oriented as possible. A small group of 4th grade girls stepped up and joined me for lunch for 3 weeks in a row where we brainstormed ideas, possible activities, and made visuals for our exploration station. As 4th graders had recently been learning about magnets in their science class, we decided to organize a booth integrating magnets and painting, and soon the “Magnetic Masterpieces” Exploration Station was created. With student input, previous knowledge, and a little research of my own we created posters explaining how simple magnets work as well as visuals explaining color theory and color mixing.

They day of Super Science Saturday I was met by my group of volunteers to help get things going and we set up 2 stations for visitors to make “Magnetic Masterpieces.” A piece of thick paper was taped in between 2 tables and another in between 2 chairs and those allowed our Artist/Scientist visitors to create a work of art using only magnets and various pieces of metal to move the paint around the paper and create their masterpiece. Using the high powered magnet on the underside of the paper, visitors were able to move the various metal jewelry, paperclips, bottle caps, screws, hair clips, etc. that were on top of the paper and move those items in and out of the paint to mix colors and create an interesting composition.

While our visitors were creating their “Magnetic Masterpieces” my Wonderful 4th grade helpers, the visiting artists, and I discussed color mixing, basic color theory, composition, and how magnets actually work! Everyone got a little messy, but everyone had a great time and created some really awesome “Magnetic Masterpieces”!

I want to give a special thanks to the 4th grade girls who volunteered to help me on the only Student run Exploration Station! It was the volunteers who pointed out that I am technically still a student 🙂

5th grade WPA US Postage Stamps

In the last post, I educated you all on the Chazen and their WPA exhibit. After students learned more about the New Deal and the WPA, we looked through books and books of amazing African American women. February is women’s history month and African American history month. We talked a little about why we would choose these two groups of people to highlight. What struggles have women faced in order to be successful? What struggles have African Americans faced? What struggles are these two groups currently facing? What about African American women specifically? We had a wonderful conversation in all five of the 5th grade classes inspired by these questions.

I showed them that President Franklin D Roosevelt commissioned them all the design US Postage Stamps. IMG_5903And here are some of the results!

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