Monday, December 17, 2012

Kandinsky-inspired trees

Let's get right back into the swing of things, shall we?

I love this project! Probably because I have a thing for trees. Our downstairs bathroom is decorated with trees, a collection inspired by one of my aunts, whose tree collection is museum-worthy, boasting pieces from all over the globe. So when I saw this Kandinsky-inspired tree project, I knew we had to try it!

I showed my third graders images of Kandinsky's paintings, focusing on the Circles series.

I demonstrated the process of cutting a square, paring it down into a circle, gluing it onto another color, cutting around the previous circle... repeat, repeat, repeat.

Each 'target' had to have at least three circles and colors but could be bigger and more colorful if desired.


Some students rocked it!

Some didn't.

On the second day, more circles were cut, as were trees with branches. The kids had the option to either use their hand as a tree-ish template...

... or to fold their paper in half and cut a symmetrical tree.

Everything was mounted onto the color of each artist's choice. Gorgeous! I might steal one for my tree bathroom.

Pencils were used to write names on the back--the only time pencils were used the entire project. Some stinkers did try to sneak a writing utensil so they could draw their circles before cutting them, but Officer Connell cracked down on that criminal activity stat!

Side note. Sometimes I am shocked (and embarrassed!) by the lack of basic skills of my students--in particular, gluing and cutting. I attribute this to a few things. We have no art class at the kindergarten level. This saddens me, especially considering the many times the kindergarten teachers have shared that new curricula prevent them from doing the artsy/crafty things they used to do with their little ones. And I think that this "we don't have time to do arts and crafts because we have to get our kids ready for the tests" mentality is pervasive throughout the elementary grades. So onto the art teacher goes the burden of Glue Bottles 101 and Scissors for Beginners... and then reviewing that same information every year. All that to say that I might bump this project down to a younger grade next year, as it was good for workin' those scissors in a circular motion.

Does anyone else see this lack of basic skills? For the veteran teachers, have you seen a decline in basic skills in the past few years?


  1. Anonymous12/18/2012

    There's absolutely no question that I've seen a huge decline in basic skills, especially in the past ten years. Why? I suspect it has something to do with kids' time being more structured with less time for exploration. Additionally, kindergarteners and first graders will tell you that their free time is most often spent with technology/video games. I do a first grade lesson on visualizing and then cutting basic shapes without tracers, especially circles, but it's not enough! Sometimes I wish I could add 5-10 minutes of skill building onto every lesson just to practice skills such as these!

    1. It's nice to hear that I'm not alone, though it's not so nice to know that this is a problem beyond my little piece of the planet. I think your ideas about the 'why' are spot-on. When we have silly Act 80 days, which limit art classes to just 20 minutes, we sometimes practice these sorts of skills, but it's not enough.