Back to school is a very exciting time of the year. Our students may (at times) not be happy that summer is over. But they are excited to see what the new school year will bring them… And they’re pretty pleased that they have moved up to the next grade level as well.
The air of excitement is in itself exciting. We as teachers have worked hard to ready our rooms, and our curriculum. Planning for the first day, the first week, and weeks to follow is refreshingly fun. What will this new school year bring? How will my class fair, and navigate throughout the year?
Hopefully we have all had a wonderful summer vacation, with plenty of time to relax and refresh.
Now the big question…
What will your first art or STEAM project be?
A fun and rewarding first week project I like to do with my new students is one that incorporates Picasso-style cubism.
We all have many students with various confidence levels in their artistic ability. I find this project is a good way for them to break-the-ice. It also allow themselves to get those creative juices flowing.
I like to start the year with Picasso and first discuss the artwork and his various styles. It’s also handy to have many visuals to display so that students can see the variety of work that one person can produce. The visual reference is really helpful for those students not comfortable producing perceived ‘perfect’ art.
Although I am not a proponent of ‘cookie-cutter’ art which produces an array of similar looking pieces, I do start the year with a ‘template’ as a springboard for my students. On a convenient sized 8.5 x 11 cardstock, I have a simple head profile line, with only one eye shape drawn off to the side.
Over the years, I have collected a lot of colored paper scrap cut of various size and this project lends itself well with their use. In bins, I house the smaller pieces that are cut, not torn. Students will use these oddball shaped colored scraps to ‘mosaic’ their work.
One of the requirements I have for this project is that their entire 8.5 x 11 sheet be covered with the colored scrap. The cubist look is automatically created with use of the small geometric pieces of paper.
It’s always interesting to watch my students compose their Picasso face as they have a lot of fun while doing it. Without the risk of preconceived perfection, students find they can create visual imagery in a very unique manner.
Another valuable resource to have is through the EducationCloset IntegratED forum where you have tons of carefully created arts and STEAM projects that have been uniquely designed for every grade level!
Each month you get access to tons of digital curriculum specifically designed for academic content in your grade level. Your monthly ‘packs’ are housed with arts integration and STEAM lessons, assessments, and activities. Each lesson pack is carefully aligned to English Language Arts, Math, Social Studies, and Science Standards with multiple arts areas.
I like this resource because video trainings are also provided with each month’s arts focus and all lesson created handouts are provided for download. You will not run out of integrated arts lessons either. Each month is packed with numerous lessons that will surely interest you and your students.
In the July issue of ArtsEdLab, I talked about finding balance during your summer. It’s very easy to become consumed with the multitude of activities at the beginning of the year. This is the time to remind ourselves that we’ve done this before and we can do it again!
Borrow, share, or tweak your lessons so that they match the needs of your current students. Teachers love to share, and there is no reason why we shouldn’t. Rely on one another for support that we all need throughout the day. Save stress for a time when you have opportunity to reflect on the moment and can tell yourself, it’s all going to work out. In the meantime, don’t reinvent the wheel.
Dolph holds a Bachelors of Science, Product Design from Art Center College of Design and a Masters degree in Education. Dolph has spent most of his teaching career as a 6th grade teacher in the elementary school setting with a focus on Gifted and Talented Education, and is currently teaching 4th grade in Fullerton, California He is married and is the father of Bonnie and Clyde, Golden Retriever littermates, one cat and two American Quarter horses.