Thursday, October 24, 2013

hello birdy.

I introduced the 1st graders to the work of American illustrator Charley Harper this week. This rotation's focus is on shape. Charley's work is great (for so many reasons) because he used different types of geometric shapes to create natural shapes in his art.

I introduced Charley and his work to the kids with the help of the official Harper website. We look at some of his images and I talk about the different shapes seen in them. Then we look at our focus image for the lesson.

I ask the students to quietly look at the image for a minute, although it's more like 30 seconds or so because they are dying to share. I ask them to think about things they see in the image- character, setting, shapes, colors, types of lines, etc. As students share, I write their responses on the white board right next to my smart board. With this, we are addressing one of their common core reading standards. Next week, I will have students do this again, and we will create a classroom sentence that describes the art we create with the vocabulary we used in the verbal art description.

side note- My goal this year is to align my lessons with the common core for each grade level, which I was overwhelmed with at first, but now that I'm doing it, I find it exciting and I'm looking forward to making my lessons even better:)

After this, I share the project that we will do and I ask students to tell me how it is different than Charley's original. It uses different colors and it is an autumn scene instead of winter.

I also introduced students to making and using a stencil to help create a repeated pattern in art. When we mad the stencil we addressed a 1st grade math standard- putting 2 shapes together to make a composite shape, and then make new shapes from the composite. We made a triangle and added a semi circle to the bottom to create a cone. This cone became our trees and bird in the art project. When we made the cone shape I had students put dots on the edges of their stencil paper so that their shape was as big as we needed it to be.

I modeled placing the stencil in the correct place on our brown paper and holding it still with one hand  while tracing it with the other. Once students did one, I showed them how to go across the circle piece of paper. We did a center row and then moved up above and then down below with our stencil.

We then added a color pattern to our trees, followed by line branch patterns. We made our bird by using the stencil on another piece of paper, and then traced it, cut it, and glued it in place. Details were added and the last step was to glue the brown circle onto a black square, so it looked like we were looking through a telescope.


  1. Wow! These are so good. They are almost like tesselations. I just saw your comment and I love Harper too - I think we could teach almost all year just on his work:) I also like the skulls one you did - I had never seen that image before! Cool.

  2. I like the warm/cool aspect of these examples -- the cool colored birds really "pop" out!!

  3. Wow! You covered a lot of concepts in this lesson. The students did a great job creating and using their own stencils.