FOURTH GRADE CURRICULUM
In fourth grade, the theme is Flat-to-Form. As motor skills and dexterity have reached new levels of strength, students are ready to apply more complex art making techniques to their creations. We begin the year studying value using oil pastels for several projects including Wayne Thiebaud-inspired cakes, pumpkins and winter lights. Once we have mastered 2D renderings of 3D forms, we begin our paper manipulation unit. We explore paper folding techniques to create radial relief sculptures, design masks, and eventually make our own pottery using recycled newspaper! It’s a challenging year with incredible effort that results in a portfolio rich with different techniques, materials, and personal expression.
In this lesson, students explore how artists can use recycled materials to make unique pieces of work. Using newspaper strips, tape, and a whole lot of patience, the fourth graders put their hand strength to the test as they coil strips ‘round and ‘round holding tight tension to create a solid set of cups and bowls.
SPECIAL NOTE - HONORABLE MENTION: I feel it is important to share the following story and praise the student who inspired it. I was proud to learn from and be awed by his diligence and process.
During my first year conducting this lesson, the newspaper cups were in the final stages of completion, but a unique fourth grader, Aaron, began his own paper cup mission completely unbeknownst to me at home. His method involved cutting large strips of construction paper (by hand!) and making a variety of his own cups. When Aaron came to me with over half a dozen "pucks" ready to be molded into "cups", truly it was hard to keep back tears I was so proud and surprised. He not only used free time for creative practices, but he applied his own technique and ideas to expand on a subject I had taught. Aaron seemed to work backwards -- he mastered the difficult task and then, in a production business-style mindset, used materials the most accessible to him and spent hours creating for a small business, that I hope is flourishing, as well as gifts for others. It is because of Aaron that I now present construction paper strips alongside newspaper strips for students to choose from.
Aaron continued coming to the art room before school, and during the day to continue working on his cups until the very last half-day of school. I even gave him a bunch of construction paper to continue work over the summer and not 40 minutes later he had already created another one! This young guy is a learner, a teacher and explorer. I was lucky to have such an exemplary student during my first year of teaching. He deserves the utmost of praise for his dedication and effort. Kudos Aaron. And thank you!
In this lesson, students put their knowledge of value to the ultimate test using tempera paint as their medium. First, we traced the circles, then slowly built up layers of the donut base using our knowledge of tints and shades. Then, these experts mixed paint of their own to create dynamic layers of frosting and powdered sugar. For the final touch, we used pencils for shadowing to make these tasty treats pop off the page.
RADIAL RELIEF SCULPTURES
With these partial 3D relief sculptures, students learned how to manipulate 2D material into 3D forms using origami paper folding techniques. With three simple folds, students were given complete autonomy with their designs -- the only requirement: radial symmetry.
WINTER VALUE LIGHTS
In this lesson, students began working on their technical ability of making a 2D drawing look like a 3D form. How do we do this? Value! Using shading techniques with oil pastels and creating halos using chalk pastels, our hands were always messy, but these winter lights brightened the halls gloriously during the dark winter months.
I decided to move this lesson from second to fourth grade as it's an excellent opportunity to reinforce a multitude of art theories: color, line, shape, and space. We first reviewed lines and shapes and discussed how overlapping can create space and depth on a 2D (flat) surface. After finishing simple line drawings of cityscapes, students traced those drawings onto styrofoam printing plates. We then painted our backgrounds warm and cool colors. Time for printing. Students printed the reflection of their cityscapes on the lower half of their backgrounds, and then we attached the styrofoam plates to add some texture and a 3D element to the top. So beautiful and serene!
OLDER WORK FROM 2016 - 2017
In this lesson, fourth grade students will learn about a variety of origin stories involving masks. Our medium of choice is paper, so these artists will learn how to manipulate 2D sheets into 3D structures. Sketching out their ideas first, we will brainstorm the initial shape and intention of our masks before learning about paper folding, twisting, and tab-making in order to produce a wide range of colorful and meaningful masks.
MONET ON MY MIND
As experts on understanding the power of color, fourth graders study Claude Monet and Impressionism as they create small landscapes, seascapes, or cityscapes. Understanding that the movement focuses on essence, instead of detail, students are encouraged to keep things simple and let the color bring the piece to life. Using watercolor pencils, the children are motivated away from detail and to embrace the "scribble" marking, as it were, to create the impressionist style sans paint.
Some students will accept the challenge of creating two identical scenes featuring two different color schemes and witness how color choice can change the entire mood of a piece of art.
Inspired by artist, Chuck Close, this lesson introduces the grid technique to students as a method of drawing self portraits. Understanding the importance of working from small steps and how to break down seemingly inaccessible tasks, students dissect the human face into simple lines and shapes to recreate their own likenesses. Fourth graders learn about contour lines and adding value to make a facial illustration pop off the page.
In this lesson, students design a silhouette inspired by colors that express a specific mood and/or theme. Students experiment with the process of tinting and shading using tempera paint, and apply skills learned to produce a background. They then sketch ideas and finalize silhouettes inspired by the color(s) of that background.
PAINT YOUR OWN KIND OF MUSIC
In this lesson, fourth graders learn that Wassily Kandinsky often used music to inspire his abstract paintings. Students paint along with different music ranging from Catalan finger style guitar to classical cello and piano concertos. They use sponges, Q-tips, brushes and other found objects to print, paint, and create designs that they feel best represent the music their are hearing. Listening to the beat and letting the sound guide strokes and marks, the fourth grade artists discover the incredible process of intuitive abstraction.
LINED OVER MATTER
In this lesson, students will create two or more landscapes, seascapes, or combination of both with watercolor paint. They will then choose one painting and use thin sharpies to illustrate a line drawing on an acetate sheet that will overlay their background. The drawing will display a simple narrative as influenced by their setting and color choices.
WHEN FALL COMES TO NEW ENGLAND
In this lesson, fourth graders review warm and cool color theory while blending crayons to make these calm floating leaves.
Art for this grade level is both a process and product based phenomena; as such, children are guided towards a more concrete understanding of proper material-usage in relation to final work. Students engage in controlled and experimental activities, and share discoveries with one another whilst expanding critical thinking skills. Complexity grows as intention matures compositions, thus the establishment of exhibition impact and power of the individual voice is recognized and cherished.