SchoolArts Magazine

May-June 2015

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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schoolartsonline.com 19 drawn, then drew and cut out the shape of the flower from thin, white paper, creating a pattern. The pattern was laid on a piece of flat felt of their choice and cut out. The process was repeated for insects, birds, and leaves. Needle Felting To join the cutout pieces to the wool background, I taught students how to needle felt. Because the needles are extremely sharp and easy to break, they had to pay careful attention to Revisiting familiar subject matter helps young students feel comfortable and confident when trying new media or new techniques. Natural Motivation Over the course of one school year, I used the school garden as subject mat- ter to inspire and motivate my fourth- grade students to explore a variety of ways to create images. At the begin- ning of the school year, the garden teems with bright perennials, buzzing bees, grasshoppers, crickets, butter- flies, birds, and leaves in many differ- ent shapes, sizes, colors, and textures. For the first garden-related experi- ence, students went onsite to record their sensory experiences. In their journals they noted the sights, sounds, smells, and touch sensations they were experiencing. Next, they care- fully recorded their visual experience by sketching flowers, leaves, and insects from observation. We used digital cameras to take close-up pho- tographs of the flora and fauna of the garden for use in later projects. After learning and practicing watercolor techniques, students once again used the garden as inspiration, this time for paintings. They referred to their drawings and notes as well as the photographs to create a light sketch, then added color using a com- bination of pan and liquid watercolors to capture the essence of the garden. A Felted Mural The final garden project was a felted mural created by the entire fourth grade. Students learned how to form felt spheres and ropes using hot soapy water and friction. They created color- ful swatches of flat felt using the same process. All the pieces were col- lected and shared as needed. Three pieces of white, 100% wool felt were dyed blue to create the back- ground for our mural. The wool was dyed with powdered drink mix to avoid any toxic chemicals. Once again, students referred to their journal drawings. They each chose a flower they had previously for flower centers. Birds and bees filled the air and a bright yellow, needle- felted sun appeared in the sky. Final embellishments were added using embroidery stitches, buttons, and beads. Over the course of the year, the fourth graders learned to observe more closely, explore the garden theme with a variety of media, work both independently and collaboratively, and experiment with new techniques and tools. The completed mural hangs what they were doing. I put students in teams to attach the pieces. Taking five-minute turns, the felter wore a protective glove on his or her non- working hand and needle-felted the wool pieces into the mural. The partner reminded the needle-felter to work safely, then the partners switched and repeated the process. As the garden started to take shape, details were added; felted ropes for stems, flat felt for leaves, and spheres in the school hallway so we now have a beautiful year-round garden to brighten our days! Grace Hulse is an NBCT Elementary Art Teacher at Orems Elementary School in Middle River, Maryland. N A T I O N A L S T A N D A R D Connecting: Relating artistic ideas and work with personal meaning and external context. W E B L I N K rosiepink.typepad.co.uk/rosiepink/ how-to-make-felt-with-chi.html I used the school garden as subject matter to inspire and motivate my fourth-grade students to explore a variety of ways to create images.

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