second grade bird sculptures

The second grade artists have finished up their bird watercolors and are now working on creating bird sculptures! Each bird actually started out using the pinch pot method in clay. The features of the birds were carefully pulled out and texture was added using various tools. The artists chose a piece of wood as the sculpture base and had to decide how their bird would balance. The clay birds were kiln fired, glazed, fired again, and then carefully perched. It was fun to see what kind of wood the children were drawn to- some organic and rough others smooth and geometric.

Last year I made a fun trip to the workshop of NCS family Willard Woodrights to collect pieces of scrap wood for the art room. They have a passionate interest in using reclaimed, locally harvested urban hardwood whenever possible and we are very fortunate to have these gorgeous pieces to use for our art projects. I love their philosophy and you can read more about what they do here.


second grade has gone to the birds!

The second grade artists worked so hard to create these beautiful detailed watercolor renderings of birds with a focus on line and color. They also learned about the artist/naturalist John James Audubon in The Boy Who Drew Birds by Jacqueline Davis.

This lovely book tells the story of John James Audubon as a young boy who diligently studies the habits of birds and discovers the secrets of small bird migration. Did you know that scientists used to think that small birds migrated to the moon, transformed into larger birds, or hibernated under water during the winter?!

We learned that John James Audubon had to shoot and stuff the birds in order to draw them so accurately. Fortunately no birds were harmed in the making of these watercolors! The second grade artists used photography to help them study the birds so closely.

John James Audubon was the first person in North America to band a bird in 1804 and the second graders were excited to make the connection to the Lewis and Clark expedition also starting that year!

We spent a lot of time talking about the visual characteristics of birds and played bird inspired Pictionary (which I used as a pre-assessment tool). They end up drawing well over 20 types of birds by the end of the hour! They did a great job using their spatial and interpersonal intelligences here.


first grade insect mobiles

Our first grade theme this year is Art & Nature- How can we find beauty in the everyday? How does recognizing patterns help us learn new things?

Nature is a wonderful source for curiosity and creativity. The first graders observed insects from my collection or from photographs and carefully made contour drawings from their observations.

I read this beautifully illustrated book to the first graders. We learned that Maria Merian was an artist/naturalist who studied plants and insects and made detailed paintings about them. She was particularly interested in metamorphosis and her art helped to dispel the common belief that insects were evil creatures. Maria worked in a scientific field during a time when options for women were very limited. She traveled all over the world to study insects in their natural environment.

Her art has inspired the first graders to make their own carefully detailed drawings of insects- some are based on real insects and some imagined.

The first grade artists painted their contour drawings with metallic watercolors and carefully cut them out. We used small twigs from our school garden to hang these colorful bugs. Each mobile is a wonderful lesson in color, line, and balance. If you visit the art room you can see them on display right now! The bug mobiles gently flit around and are so much fun to look at (and also hard to photograph!).

My own kiddos collect cicada shells for fun so I brought in a box full of cicada shells to share! We had a good time talking about cicadas and many students left the art room with a cicada shell clung to their shoulder. Read more about cicadas here. Check out the sound clip of the cicada song and the time lapse video of a cicada molting!