FIRST GRADE CURRICULUM
First grade is a wonderfully creative year in flux as developmental levels are so variant. As these children are still so young, the focus in this second year of art education is largely centered around the process of art-making, versus the product, featuring modern and contemporary inspirations such as Paul Klee, Piet Mondrian, and James Rizzi. We are also largely influenced by children’s literature and explore how illustrators find inspiration through words and other imagery. We aim to strengthen vocabulary and theories learned in kindergarten, while introducing students to the grander possibilities of materials they may or may not be familiar with. From color blending and shape collages, to value painting and pinch pots, students are exposed to a slightly more complex nature of information they already know. By the end of this year, students have a great deal of control over their materials and enhanced motor skills as they head into second grade!
ICE CREAM SUNDAES
Last project of the year. It was hot. We were line and shape experts. Time to put that knowledge to excellent use and create these awesome ice cream cones! First graders grow so much over the course of the year and they had a blast applying what they learned to these tasty looking creations. See how far simple lines and shapes can take us?!
In this lesson, students created pinch pots using Model Magic. We learned about using natural resources to make artwork as well as recognizing our hands as one of the original artist tools. While Model Magic was our substitute for natural clay, these young artists still discovered the complex process of working with a malleable material and the patience it takes to feel satisfied with ones own creation. Upon completion of their small sculptures, students were given markers to design their work as they saw fit. We learned about how different cultures might use intricate patterns to design vessels, whereas others might use the surface to tell stories.
In this project, first graders learned all about how recycled materials can have such important and different meanings. Inspired by Louise Nevelson, These young artists learned about how to use familiar items in a totally new, and unfamiliar way! Each material an artists chooses to create with can have it's own special meaning and tell a story. We learned all about relief sculptures -- solid in the back, pops in the front -- and chose from white, black or gold to give our pieces some unity!
First graders are now line and shape experts, so it's time to put them to the test and see how they translated that knowledge into showing emotions through facial expressions. What kind of lines show happy, excited, sad, curious or angry? Inspired by New York artist James Rizzi, and from the amazing Cassie Stephens, students created buildings using vertical and horizontal lines first, then added details such as windows and doors. The most exciting part was of course adding the many faces. Once the pencil drawing was complete, t'was time for color! These young friends are very astute and were able to pin point just why we used curvy dotted lines in the sky -- to show the wind and movement of course!
We are exploring modern and contemporary art this year and Piet Mondrian gave us an incredible opportunity to talk about color fields and how to become an expert marker-user! We explored Mondrian's work and talked about how artists can use color to tell stories and to simply explore materials. Our first task was of course to become masters of horizontal and vertical lines. Students used precut 1 in strips to design their very own compositions. Then we learned how to get the most color out of our markers -- slow, vertical lines from top to bottom. Too fast = scratchy! Artists must be patient and enjoy the process. The results were incredibly bold and awesome!
In January, it’s cold and dreary so we read Owl Babies by Martin Waddell! Children absolutely LOVE this story. This is the first long-form guided instruction the first graders receive because there are so many steps and layers—we like to support all task retrieval abilities in the art room! Students are encouraged to add their own modifications as they see fit. Love these fluffy critters SO much!
In this lesson, first graders learn all about symmetry! First we discuss what symmetry means and how to use it in a circle: radial symmetry. We use hexagon templates to mark each of the 6 points of our snowflakes, then carefully connect them using lines (vertical, diagonal, and horizontal). Time to decorate! After these “invisible” snowflakes are drawn, we paint with liquid watercolors and watch the snowflakes “appear” as colors blend around them. Lots of “ooohs” and “aaaaahs” here!
My favorite time of year is when fall comes to New England (also the name of an excellent Cheryl Wheeler song), so this was an excellent opportunity to showcase how artists use nature to influence their work. First grade friends used a variety of familiar materials in an unfamiliar way to create these awesome trees! We started with pastel blending techniques to create texture for our ground. Then we used cotton swabs to paint the tree trunks and branches. Once the trunks dried, time for the leaves. We crumbled paper and dipped it in paint to print the multicolored leaves. Students were very aware of how each material we used created a different texture!
PAUL KLEE CASTLES
First graders started the school year strong using their foundation of knowledge from Kindergarten -- Artists use shapes to tell stories! What better way to continue that theme, than to create our own castles using shapes inspired by Paul Klee?! First graders got messy first and made fantastic painted paper which I then cut into smaller usable shapes. It was an excellent learning opportunity to reinforce our knowledge of patterns--repeating designs. We then learned about the power of brainstorming and experimenting with different compositions before committing to the final layout.
Of course we start the year off refreshing our knowledge of lines through sculpture! And thanks to Cassie Stephens this project has a new level of depth! Each line and color represent different fun facts about ourselves—these line sculptures are telling an abstract self-portrait story!!
It’s time to say so long to summer, and welcome back to school! Our first project involves the Square 1 Art fundraiser and in this grade we begin with a simple shape collage onto a crayon-drawn background. We refresh our memories on primary, secondary, warm and cool colors, then tap into our knowledge from Kindergarten and use shapes to tell the story of a calming sailboat drifting into the sunset. Or…if you’re the featured artist here…the sinking Titanic.
OLDER PROJECTS FROM 2016 - 2017
As spring is in bloom, first graders designed flowers inspired by Buddhist and Hindu Mandalas. First we learned about overlapping and symmetry using counting and rotating skills, then used water color paint to make these intricate designs pop off the page.
ARCTIC ANIMALS ON VACATION
In the cold winter months, the first graders used their imaginations (and watercolor painting skills) to transport arctic animals to beachfront vacations. Discovering that artists can use shapes to help them learn to draw animal bodies, this group created a variety of polar bears, penguins, and walruses using their knowledge of shapes.
IN THE WIND
As the leaves change and the wind begins to chill, we artists take the opportunity of changing seasons to learn about warm and cool colors. Using their powers of observation, the first grade students study different kinds of leaves and create these detailed illustrations from life! As expert oil pastel blenders, we’ll remember these warm colored leaves blowing in the cool wind as winter approaches.
Inspired by the story, Iggy Peck, Architect, students worked collaboratively to build cities with wooden blocks, then used observational drawing skills to illustrate their structures. Learning that details take time and patience, we studied textures and patterns of different building types and landmarks (brick and wood houses, steel buildings, Eiffel Tower, Leaning Tower of Pisa, etc) then experimented with our favorite lines and shapes until the pattern we liked most appeared on the page.
LINE DANCING WITH SHAPES – LEVEL II
An evolution of Line Dancing with Shapes, from the previous year of learning, this project has evolved to integrate new vocabulary for first graders. Using Wassily Kandinsky as our reference artist, this lesson allows students to get creative with color as they see how lines and shapes dance across the page. Beginning with a directed drawing of lines and shapes, students learn the five basic lines (vertical, horizontal, diagonal, zig-zag, curvy) and four geometric shapes (square, rectangle, triangle, circle). First graders learn that while shapes are everywhere they don't always need to create an image we recognize. Abstract art: It doesn't look real, but it makes me feel!