Allowing them to use it as the final step in projects has proven a highly successful way to get most projects finished on time. (Which makes for quieter recesses and lunches for me because not as many students are coming in to finish then:) )
The 5th graders have been working on mixed media images that have to show unity. As with my most recent 2nd grade project, I did not introduce students to an artist in the project. Some classes used collagraphy and stencils and others used relief printing and stencils to create their mixed media pieces. This was due to the extra time some classes needed to finish their Ryan Kapp landscapes and assessments. The collagraph and stencil lesson took a 1 1/2 class meetings, while the styrofoam relief and stencil took 1 class meeting.
When introducing the project, I discussed what unity is in art and the variety of ways an artist can create it.
In order to make things in an image look like they belong together an artist may use similar colors, similar materials and techniques, similar shapes, or use a common theme. There are more ways to do it, but these were the ones we focused on. For students to show that they were proficient in unity building, they needed to use at least 3 out of the 4 ways.
I gave students a selection of themes they could choose from- implied motion, an outer space scene, a food related image, or a landscape similar to our Ryan Kapp landscapes. This gave students some freedom in choosing what to do, but also provided structure to those students that get a little stressed when they can do anything they want.
After students printed their main image, then they created a stencil for the spray paint portion that would make this a mixed-media lesson. The stencil could be an abstract pattern similar to a snowflake design or it could relate to their image, adding even more unity to the project.
I have really loved the variety of images that the students have created with this lesson. That said, after working with spray paint for 3 consecutive days, me and my brain cells are glad we are done with it for a while.