917 "C" Street
San Rafael, California 94901
By Cathy Bowman and Suzanne Joyal, visual arts specialists
Second graders at Laurel Dell Elementary School in San Rafael spent three lovely mornings making trees from around the world. The classes had lively discussions about what their trees needed to thrive and where they might live. We talked about the differences to be found in trees around the world, as well as all of those things that make trees the same.
First, we used magnifying glasses to analyse branches: how many kinds of brown do you see? Are they smooth or rough? what happens where smaller branches grow out? What kinds of patterns do you see in the bark? We made very careful drawings of very imaginative trees from every continent on the planet (yes, even Antarctica!)
We then revisited our skills at making browns from primary colors- this was very challenging: it took a lot of practice. Students have learned to mix carefully, to be respectful of their neighbors, to share their ideas, and to ask for help from their peers when needed.
We spent one classtime painting landscapes. Where will your tree stand? In a city, near a park, in the forest? (The tree from Antarctica will stand with glaciers and penguins). We learned about horizon lines and sunsets, painting watercolor wet-into-wet techniques, and the value of adding lots of details.
On our final day, we glued our trees to the landscapes, spreading glue all the way to the edges so they would lie flat. Leaves were made from texture rubbings, and practiced cutting skills and mixing colors. Those who finished early helped others at the gluing station. It was a great exercise in following directions and reflecting on why we make the artistic choices we do.
One student talked about making a tree that was near her friend’s house. Another student enjoyed breaking a pastel (and the satisfying snap it made) so he could use it on its side. The class ended with a discussion reflecting on similarities and differences. Then it was time to clean up and eat lunch!
Second Graders at Laurel Dell Elementary School discovered that making brown is a challenge! Each student traced their own hand, and then those of three friends, onto their paper. They then practiced mixing red, yellow, blue, and white to make as many shades of browns and tans as possible. We counted more than 100 different shades and tones!
Students practiced Collaboration (with keeping the shared colors clean for their friends and also teaching each other how to make certain colors); Persistence as they failed many times before they learned the process and trick: If you need to use red, yellow, and blue to make brown, and what you have looks very green, what’s missing? (the answer is red). Students were also able to experiment with making any color imaginable, and rose to the challenge.
We noticed that while we all are slightly different shades of brown and tan, and we can make them all.
Thank you for your continued support: Laurel Dell PTA teachers, parents and students and the California Arts Council
Thank you for your continued support: Laurel Dell PTA teachers, parents and students, the Walker Rezaian Creative Hearts Fund, and the California Arts Council.
Students began thinking about Super Heroes several weeks ago working with Ms. Bowman. They talked about what makes a super hero, what is a problem in our community that a super hero could help solve, and what would that look like? They made beautiful pop up images of their heroes.
Now we are getting ready to create 3D sculptures of our super heroes! We need to know a little more about the human body, and how to show bodies in motion or performing their power. What does running look like? Swimming? Flying? Each student had a turn at showing their super hero pose, while the rest of the class artists practiced using their entire arm to draw FAST (30 seconds per pose).
Next we created a wire “skeleton” or armature. We practiced winding wire, then wrapping our armatures in foil. Students ended the day by drawing their works-in-progress in their art journals. Next week will be Papier Mache!
Thank you so much for your support: Laurel Dell PTA, teachers and students, UC Berkeley’s Y-PLAN, Janine Lovejoy Wilford, and the California Arts Council