SchoolArts Magazine

October 2016

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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34 OCTOBER 2016 SchoolArts Birdwatchers The third-graders at the Philadelphia Performing Arts Charter School were charged with becoming birdwatchers themselves. We used the classroom smartboard to go on our own adven- ture and toured habitats from around the world, searching for feathered friends. We viewed a variety of wild birds in their natural habitats includ- ing the kiwi, Himalayan monal, Formosan magpie, flamecrest, golden pheasant, and many more colorful creatures of flight. Students were inspired by the wide variety of colors, shapes, and sizes of the birds. Drawing Fanciful Birds After our guided tour of a jungle habitat, students pushed through the flora and fauna to envision their own discovery of a rare bird, perched con- tentedly on a tree branch. Using black permanent markers, students drew their birds, complete with fanciful feathers and elaborate patterns. On a separate sheet of paper, they drew unique flora and fauna. The drawings were colored with crayons and then painted with watercolors for vibrant, crayon-resist paintings. The watercolors provided a new kind of adventure for stu - dents—they experimented with cre- ating texture as paint floated across waxy crayon. They were entranced by the way the watercolor would partially cover the crayon and that a vibrant red could peek through an overlay of green or purple. The flora and fauna drawings were treated the same way and then cut out. Stu - dents enjoyed arranging their foliage around the birds. There was so much cross-curricu- lar learning going on in this lesson, about history, science, ornithology, exploration, experimentation, color theory, mixed media, painting, geog- raphy, and more. Creation through Observation When the paintings were complete, students had the opportunity to talk about their accomplishments. They were eager to comment on their class- mates' creations, and they marveled at the bright colors, amazing patterns, and surprising textures that their peers had created. We viewed John James Audubon's Birds of America, and compared his carefully observed works to their own imagined "flights of fancy." Students realized the importance of keen observational skills and the significant contribu- tions artists can make. There was so much cross- curricular learning going on in this lesson, about histor , science, ornitholog , exploration, experimentation, color theor , mixed media, painting, geograph , and more.

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