Zamo just started back up after a 4 week winter break and the 4th graders have been looking down and closely with the help of Commander Scott Kelly's photographs from the International Space Station.
We start by reviewing a couple things from previous projects- that we have used color sticks to create some pretty clean drawings and that we have been drawing on white paper.
As Captain Jean Luc Picard would say, "Engage."
This is where the kids gets hooked. We look at some of the photos that Commander Kelly has taken of the Earth below him and has posted on his instagram account. The kids can't get over the colors and shapes that they see in the images. There has been a lot of excitement in the room as we look at his photos. We talk about how these images become abstract compositions because of his cropping of them and their overhead point of view.
When students get further along, I encourage them to look closely at the photo for details and elements that are present that are not yet in their drawing. Identifying those details and including them in a drawing gives it much more interest and character.
The kids have definitely felt challenged by this activity, but I have not sensed much frustration with it. The images are complex, but the abstract nature of the landscapes, I think, frees them up a bit.