As any art teacher knows, students work at varying speeds in the art room. I am always trying to come up with engaging activities for my early finishers. I have found that having a structured group project in progress at all times works wonders for those students who finish early or have some down time as they wait for paint or papier-mache to dry. If I can review an reinforce some concepts along the way that’s even better!
One of our class favorites is the collaborative color wheel. Students can get involved at a few different levels. The first step is for students to flip through magazines and pull out primary, secondary and intermediate colors. I ask students to find nice “chunks” of color—it is alright if there is text or images within the color as long as the desired color is dominant. The colors are placed in 12 piles (red, red-orange, orange, yellow-orange, etc) on separate paper plates.
Another group of students volunteered to design the color wheel on a large piece of cardboard. I challenged students to create a dynamic design that could accommodate all 12 colors, as well as their tints and shades.
They researched mandala designs and ultimately combined design elements of a few they found online and in books. Students used rulers and compasses to create the design directly on a 2’x2’ sheet of corrugated cardboard I had rescued from the recycle bin. The final design had 36 sections to accommodate all the primary, secondary and intermediate colors, as well as their tints and shades. The students labeled each section in pencil.
Then we began to separate each of the colors into three piles: pure hue, tint and shade. Again, we used paper plates and to separate the colors. It was interesting to hear the debates as students tried to determine where each color fit into the spectrum. Students also found that some colors were sparse and had to go back to the magazines and search again to find additional pieces.
The final step was to collage each of the 36 sections with the designated color. We simply used white glue to adhere the magazine pieces to the cardboard. The students liked the look of torn edges, but cut the edges of each piece that bordered the section. Once complete we brushed a coat of gloss medium over the entire collage. Not only did students enjoy creating this collaborative project, but I find that I reference it often in my teaching.
Not surprisingly, students were eager to begin another collaborative collage project. This time, students sifted through magazines and cut out the letters A R T, separating the letters onto three paper plates.
Some students volunteered to paint a frame on a piece of 23”x20” Masonite. Then, each class worked on assembling the letters onto the Masonite. We discussed finding a variety of typefaces and fonts in different shapes, sizes and colors as well as creating a balanced composition. When the work was complete, once again, we coated it with gloss medium.
There are so many variations you could try with both of these projects. Think about having students create something that you can use as a teaching tool…warm/cool colors, complementary colors, school colors/school name or even the elements and principles of the art. The possibilities are endless!
Elementary, middle and high school students will…
• Create a radial design or another composition that incorporates the elements and principles of design.
• Identify and group primary, secondary, intermediate colors as well as the tints and shades of each colors.
• Use the techniques of collage.
• Work cooperatively to design and complete this student-led project.
NATIONAL ART STANDARDS
CREATING: Conceiving and developing artistic ideas and work.
PRESENTING: Interpreting and sharing artistic work.
RESPONDING: Understanding and evaluating how the arts convey meaning.
CONNECTING: Relating artistic ideas and work with personal meaning and external context.
Melissa Speelman teaches art at Sycamore Junior High School in Cincinnati.
Reprinted with permission from Arts & Activities Magazines. Visit their website: www.artsandactivities.com