Wacky Face Masks-Adapted Art Lesson

Each week I work with two small groups of students that come to me from our schools autism center. I have two different groups-one includes students from kindergarten to second grade aged, and the other is third through sixth grade aged. These students have a wide variety of abilities, and I have to design lessons that can be adapted to any skill level, from completely hand over hand to completely independent. Since we were already working with cut paper masks this week, we did some mask-making with each of these classes. My student teacher created a bunch of simple paper mask bases in a  variety of colors. We supplied construction paper strips of varied sizes and colors, and we demonstrated some simple paper sculpture techniques such as loop, roll, pleat, and fringe. Students then used these techniques to create wacky paper faces. Here are some of the masks from the younger group.IMG_5795 IMG_5796 IMG_5797 IMG_5798 IMG_5799Younger students are focusing more on just watching and following step-by-step instructions, but choosing their own materials and colors. Students in the older class break out more and are working more independently. We are still focusing on following directions and motor skills, but these students come up with their own ways of doing things and are able to create more individual artworks.IMG_5801 IMG_5804Here is the mask created by the IA and student who were working entirely hand-over-hand. I think we are seeing the IAs creativity more than the student, since this student has limited verbal and fine motor skills, but it is still a very wacky face. IMG_5803 And just for good measure, here is April’s teacher example. For some reason it reminds me of the HamburglarIMG_5805

Express Yourself- Paper Mask Sculptures

I have four third grade classes this year and each class is at a completely different stage of the paper sculpture mask unit we have been working on due to two-hour delays, federal holidays, and snow days. As my student teacher put it, we have been doing masks forever. I thought I would share some of the completed masks now that we have had two classes make it through the entire unit. Students viewed and discussed masks from a variety of cultures including Chinese, Native American, Greek and Roman. Student attempted to guess the function or purpose of many different masks. We then took some time to discuss how masks are currently used in our own culture, and students designed an original mask to be worn during a cultural event or celebration. The chart below is a screenshot of a group of cultural mask images that was originally compiled during curriculum development. I love displaying this entire chart on my smart board and letting my students decide which masks to discuss. They select the masks they are most interested in, and we discuss what they may have been used for based on what they visually notice and describe about each mask. I then give a bit of historical background about the culture the mask is actually from and how the mask was used.Screen Shot 2015-03-01 at 2.09.35 PM Each student selected their own cultural event, then designed a symbolic mask that could be worn as part of that celebration. Celebrations students suggested included cultural and religious holidays, birthdays, even sporting events. Once students had designed their mask by creating sketches, they were asked to label their sketch to show which three-dimensional paper sculpture techniques they thought they could use to create the 3D features of their paper mask sculpture. mask sketch 2015During the second class period students followed step-by-step instructions to create a basic paper mask form, then began using three-dimensional paper sculpture techniques to add features to their masks. Since I had April student teaching in my room, I was able to create a brand new paper sculpture techniques chart, since the one I had been using was created back when I was a student teacher (in 2007-yikes!) and it was looking supper flattened and frumpy. I added all of the three-dimensional techniques I could think of, and my new chart looks like a work of art all by itself!IMG_5800Each student is encouraged to select a cultural event that is personally meaningful, and every student is then faced with the challenge of applying their knowledge of paper sculpture to create the mask that they sketched. By presenting an open-ended challenge students have the opportunity to develop their own ideas and use art skills in a more meaningful way. Students combine two-dimensional cut paper techniques with three-dimensional paper sculpture techniques to create an original solution to the sculptural challenge.  At the end of the unit students write a brief statement that describes the cultural event they selected and how their mask relates to the cultural event. At the end of class we line up and have a mask parade where students can take turns wearing their mask and parading through the classroom. Before each student takes their turn I take a quick photo with my phone of the student holding their mask beside their face, so that I have an image I can use for grading their work later. This way students get to take home their mask sooner and I still have a visual to grade. Here are some of the snapshots I took of the masks. I cropped the students out in case I don’t have permission to post students’ faces online. I wish I could show this child’s face because his expression is priceless. This mask is a vampire for a Halloween party.vampire mask2015This one is a gift shaped mask designed for a Christmas celebration.christmas present mask 2015 Here is an awesome first day of school mask. I love that this lesson allows students to think about what we might include as a cultural event. Students are quick to think of holidays but when they start thinking about what other events are cultural we start to get really unique masks.first day school mask 2015 Here is another non-holiday related cultural event. The photo doesn’t do it justice. This student built tiny soccer players and nets that stood up from the grassy mask base. I love how this student’s mask shows the potential of what a mask can be. He didn’t just think about making a face; instead, he built a mask that represents an entire soccer field. He combined the two-dimensional skills for building the soccer players with three-dimensional methods to make the flat objects stand upright.soccer mask 2015Below is a leprechaun mask designed for St. Patrick’s Day. Two students were working on masks with three-dimensional hats. When the second student asked me how to build a 3D hat, I encouraged them to talk to this student because she had already built her leprechaun’s mask. I frequently do this because it encourages students to see each other as artists and resources, rather than just the teacher. I want students to see the art room as an artists’ studio where any artist could help them grow and develop their art skills.leprechaun mask 2015 My favorite mask was designed for Chinese New Year. The student built a mask that represents a bowl of noodles with three-dimensional chopsticks holding a noodle, and a spoon for the broth.noodle bowl mask 2015

Ceramics Lessons and Management Tips

This week was a Ceramic-stravaganza! Check out my favorite ceramics lessons and management tips posts in the links below:

Ceramics Lessons

IMG_5576 Ceramic Zoo Animals & Paper Habitats

IMG_4310 Cultural Animal Vessels

IMG_4389 Abstract Personal Interest Figures

IMG_3433 Imaginative Model Homes & Architectural Facade Tiles

Ceramics Management Tips

IMG_5232 Firing Multiple Stages of Clay at the Same Time

IMG_5221 Kiln Cart Shelf Tags

IMG_3172 Ceramics Toolboxes

IMG_3212 Ceramics on the Art Cart

IMG_5227 Glaze Trays

Ceramics Management Tip: Glaze Storage & Distribution

IN our county many elementary art teachers use paint stations at each table to manage tempera paint. I thought the idea of a station where students have access to multiple colors of glaze would be useful, so I created these small glaze trays for each of the tables in my classroom. We use Mayco Stroke & Coat glazes which can be mixed to create a wide variety of tints and shades.  IMG_5223 IMG_5224Each table receives one glaze tray that contains the twelve most requested colors and a water dish for rinsing their brushes. The tray has a lid that students can use as a palette for mixing. I purchased the trays/storage boxes at the dollar store. The cups inside that hold each color of glaze were also purchased at the dollar store and were originally designed for salad dressing.


On the center table in my room where I usually distribute materials I have a variety of paintbrush sizes available as well as a box that contains one bottle of each color of glaze, in case I need to do refills during class. If I were teaching from a cart I would set these materials up not he top shelf with the empty water dishes, and the bottom shelf would contain the bisqueware that is ready to be glazed in one large tray or copy box lid.IMG_5226All of these small glaze trays fit inside one of my art room cabinets. We just snap the lids on and stack them inside the cabinet for the next use. Over the summer they get dried out a little, but we just refresh them with more glaze and a little water if necessary. Occasionally someone will forget to rinse their brush before switching to a new color. If it isn’t a big glob the kids just stir it into the rest of the glaze. If it is a big difference in color (like a blob of black mixed into the white glaze) then I rinse out that cup and refill it, but that only happens once or twice a year. Overall we waste much less glaze using this method instead of paper plates or palettes, and I am able to afford to buy the stroke & coat glaze instead of the budget glaze that is stocked in our county’s supply warehouse.

I hope these ceramics tips were useful. If you missed any of the other ceramics posts you can check out the links below:

Ceramics Management Tips:

Firing Multiple Stages Together

Kiln Cart Shelf Tags

Clay Toolboxes

Clay on an Art Cart

Ceramics Lessons:

Ceramic Zoo Animals

Cultural Animal Vessels

Personal Interest Figures

Ceramic Gargoyles

Imaginative Model Houses & Architectural Facades

Ceramics Lesson: Imaginative Model Homes

I borrowed this lesson from a fellow art teacher in our county- Ashley Birkmaier. While discussing mixed results of ceramics and my worries over the coming ceramics art assessment, Ashley shared some photos of student examples of an imaginative home lesson she had written. Students were shown examples of unusual homes such as the Nautilus house designed by Javier Senosiain and an automobile shaped house designed by Markus Voglreiter  Each student then developed a list of their own personal interests, traits, or talents that could be used as inspiration for their own home. Students created multiple sketches to plan for their sculpture, selected their favorite sketch, then labeled their sketch to show which ceramic hand building techniques they intended to use when the began sculpting.

IMG_0244I have taught this lesson twice so far, and each year the model houses are more interesting than the last. I love how each house is completely different and by designing their own solution to the problem each student has to solve the problem of transforming a two-dimensional sketch into a three-dimensional sculpture. I am posting a few images from last year, and I will update next week as my current sixth graders houses are fresh out of the kiln from glaze firing.

IMG_3433IMG_3422Since this is my last ceramics lesson post for the week, I thought I would share an added bonus lesson by one of my art teacher colleagues from the past. She had an extra couple of weeks because we did not have as many snow days and decided to create ceramic relief tiles of architectural facades. Each artwork was inspired by a combination of classical and modern architectural elements. Here are some of her students beautiful work that we shared during our annual pyramid art show.

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