The Art Problem
How can young learners differenti-
ate between shape and form?
Students effectively model a clay
frog using joining techniques and
terra cotta clay, white clay, tooth-
brushes, small containers of water,
plastic straws cut into thirds
1. Discuss pond habitat. Look at
photos of frogs, discuss texture and
2. On the board, draw one large
circle (body), one smaller circle
(head), and four cylinders (legs) for
students to see.
3. Demonstrate how to roll the
above forms with clay. Discuss the
difference between a circle and a
sphere and define cylinders. Attach
the parts of the frog using a tooth-
brush and a tiny bit of water to
4. Have students complete this
part and then add eyes by rolling
two tiny spheres of white clay. Use
the straw to add pupils and press it
lightly into the back to add a warty
texture. Add dots for a nose.
5. Use a needle tool to add the
students’ initials. Cut and pinch the
frog’s mouth open.
Is artistry evident in the execution of
By Denise Clyne-Ruch, an art
specialist at L.A. Nelson Elementary in Denton, Texas.
Mexican-Inspired Mirrors Middle School
The Art Problem
Mexican tin mirrors are hand tooled
by expert craftspeople. Students will
use similar techniques to create a
Students will demonstrate symme-
try, relief and texture in a mirror.
newsprint, thirty-six gauge alumi-
num, tape, felt, wooden styluses,
black ink, steel wool, metallic acryl-
ics and brushes, 5" ( 13 cm) square
mirror, 12"( 30 cm) cardboard for
1. Students design a symmetrical
design on newsprint.
2. Students tape design to alumi-
3. With felt underneath metal, stu-
dents firmly trace over their design
using the wooden stylus.
4. Students tool the metal from the
back side to create relief.
5. Students apply at least five differ-
6. Once completed, students ink
7. After it dries, students use steel
wool to shine up the metal.
8. Acrylic paint is applied sparingly
to enhance the design.
9. Center hole is cut out for the
10. Mirror is hot glued to cardboard
in the center. Design is stapled to
cardboard. A hole is punched and a
ribbon is threaded through to hang
Students are assessed on symmetry,
complexity of design, amount of
relief, and artistry.
By Mary Coy, art teacher at Spry
Middle School in Webster, NY,
and also a contributing editor to
Groovy Lava Lamps Elementary
The Art Problem
How do we help students under-
stand the difference between geo-
metric and free-form shapes? How
can students make a shape look
like form with shading?
12 x 18" ( 30 x 46 cm) papers,
pencil, watercolors, brushes, water,
scissors, glue, chalk or oil pastels,
12 x 18” mounting paper
1. Discuss the groovy sixties.
Discuss the art of tie-dye and art
happenings where the art wasn’t
permanent and movement was
2. Draw a trapezoid at the top and
bottom of the paper. Add lines
to make a symmetrical lava lamp
shape. Explain that trapezoids are
geometric four-sided shapes with
only two parallel sides.
3. Fill the lava lamp with free-form
shapes. Paint the blobs and the
water in contrasting colors. Allow
4. Shade and highlight the blobs
with chalk pastels.
5. Cut the lamp out and trace it
onto the background paper.
6. Draw with chalk inside the
traced lamp shape. Blend chalk
outward to make the lamp appear
7. Mount on background paper.
Did the student make a trapezoid?
Did the student make free-form
shapes? Did the student shade in
appropriate color and form?
By Denise Clyne-Ruch, art specialist at L.A. Nelson Elementary
in Denton, Texas.
Double-Sided Hand Sculpture High School
The Art Problem
Depict the private and public sides
of the personality in a cast sculpture.
Students will create a plaster strip
sculpture that depicts their public
and private selves, each on one side
of a hand.
plaster strips, petroleum jelly or
plastic wrap, wire, wooden bases,
paint, brushes, found objects, glue
1. Students create a cast plaster
sculpture of half of their hand (this
works best if they work in pairs),
using plaster strips, protecting their
hand first with petroleum jelly or
2. After one layer, they should
embed two short wires that extend
down their wrist (this will allow
them to mount the sculpture neatly
on a base).
3. A second layer should then be
added. The hand casting is then
attached to a base, the two wires
fitting into drilled holes.
4. Students are asked to embellish
the outside of their hand, using the
elements of art symbolically to rep-
resent their public selves, the inside
of their hands are decorated to
represents their private selves.
5. Finally, the base is finished in a
way that creates visual harmony
between the inside and outside of
Note: Check to be sure that no
students are allergic to plaster.
Display student work and have
students volunteer to talk about
their work, explaining their reasons
for their artistic choices. Encourage
students to listen without judgment
By Carol Horst, an art teacher
at Tehachapi High School in