Topic Taught: Throughout our unit in Alicia’s 4th and 5th grade class we focussed around the idea of transformation. We explored transformation of imaginary creatures marionettes, self-portraits, and masks. The students were able to create their very own expressive works that were transformed into original creatures and morphed self-portraits and masks. They used animal patterns, traits, environments, personal character traits, and various multi-media techniques to create this works in our class.
The first lesson we created imaginary creature marionettes. We introduced the idea of transformation and showed many examples of morphed creatures. The students were then able to brainstorm and think about what animals they liked and what features from them the could combine to make a brand new, original creature. We gave them sketchbooks and they learned how to use sketching as a plan for their future creations. In their sketchbooks they also listed ways to attach certain parts of their marionettes and what types of materials they wanted to use. They learned about attachments and movement when they started turning their two-dimensional sketches into three-dimensional marionettes. We showed them how to use hot glue to attach cloth, string, pipe-cleaners, paper cups, feathers, and other various materials together to create a moveable form. By the end of the lesson they were able to create an original imaginary creature that moved with string and wooden dowels. The students discovered that planning in a sketchbook with two-dimensional drawings and notes, and turning it into a three-dimensional moveable object was a great process that demonstrated transformation.
We continued with our main idea of transformation in the second lesson. The second lesson focussed on transforming self-portraits. The first part of the transformed self-portrait lesson we talked about how self-portraits can represent personal elements about yourself. We discussed how colors and certain animal patterns could represent personal characteristics. The different emotions and feelings that you may associate with warm and cool colors were also discussed, and encouraged in their art-making. As a way to show how you can represent someone's character traits with animal features, patterns, and colors, we actually painted a volunteers face! We first brainstormed four different characteristics of the volunteer, and listed different animals that related to the traits. Then we took elements from an animal from each category and painted it on the volunteer's face, discussing all the while, how the lines and colors I was using on the face represented the person in a self-portrait. The students then were able to use different layers of vellum, mylar, and a black and white photograph of themselves to create a self-portrait. They used resists, by using colored pencils, oil pastels, and acrylic on the different layers. They transformed their facial features by overlapping different layers of animal patterns, features and colors.
The second part of second lesson continued with the idea of a transformed self-portrait, but this time the students had to transform their entire body, and create an environment for their transformed selves. We reviewed the concepts of utilizing color to create emotion, and pattern to represent certain animals, and let them decide on what type of transformed, animalistic body they thought would represent them. They also had to think about what type of environment they would need to survive as their transformed creature. They then had to use the same media and process of resists that they used in their smaller self-portraits on a much larger sheet of paper.
During the third lesson, we moved away from animal characteristics, but we still used the idea of transforming faces and form to create plaster masks. We also still used the concept of portraying characteristics and emotions through color, physical features and elements, and the form and function of an object. We talked about how different types of masks have very different purposes, whether they are for a specific purpose, are functional, or for decoration. We showed the students how to use the material of plaster to create a mask form and facial features. We also talked about how exaggerating facial features and other forms in their mask could help communicate their intended meaning for their masks as well. After the forms were created and dried, we showed the students various techniques for coloring their surfaces. They learned how watercolor, and watered down acrylic can bring out interesting patterns and textures within their masks and how using oil pastels within the different washes could bring out more detailed lines and patterns as well.
Relevance of the Topic to Content Standards and Within Curricular Sequence: The transformation unit touched on many relevant topics in relation to art education for fourth and fifth graders in the state of Colorado. Students were able to comprehend, reflect, create, and transfer throughout the creative process during the entire unit. Through various forms of the critique process, multiple processes and philosophies of art, and the different characteristics of art, students gained a better understanding of the meaning of art and communication through creative means.
Through our various assignments on on the topic of transformation, students made connections with the formal and sensory qualities of art. They made art that communicated their own human experiences and their own expressive points of view. They experienced first hand the importance and experience of using methods of planning to support the development of their intended meaning. They also were able to experience how artists, and other viewers respond to works of art using their own personal inference and empathy, demonstrating how evaluative criteria is used when responding to work. Through various discussions and examples of various artistic works from historical times and current cultural settings, students could make connections to the art world.
Below, is a chart that shows the Pre Graduate Competencies in the Visual Arts as well as the Grade Level Expectation for 4-5th Grades
Pre-Graduate Competencies in Visual Arts
Visual arts connect to multiple characteristics of art.
The critique process informs judgments about artistic and aesthetic merits in works of art.
Apply an understanding of art processes and creative thinking to plan and create art in traditional, unique, and inventive ways.
Artists, viewers, and patrons respond to art from familiar and unfamiliar cultures and assign intended meaning to works of art.
Historical time periods and cultural settings are interpreted in works of art.
The processes and philosophies of art and design inform interpretations in works of art.
Use artistic and technological media and expression to communicate personal and objective points of view.
The processes and philosophies of art and design inform interpretations in works of art.
Grade Level Expectations 4-5th Grades Comprehend: Visual arts connect multiple characteristics of art Comprehend: Visual arts learning involves analyzing the formal and sensory qualities of art Comprehend: Works of art articulate and expressive different points of view Comprehend: Visual arts communicate the human experience Comprehend: Artists, viewers, and patrons respond to works of art using inference and empathy
Reflect: Specific methods of planning support the development of intended meaning Reflect: Evaluative criteria is used when responding to works of art Reflect: Specific methods of planning support the development of intended meaning Reflect: The critique process informs judgments about artistic and aesthetic merits in works of art Reflect: The processes and philosophies of art and design inform interpretations in works of art
Create: Apply and understanding of art processes and creative thinking to plan and create art Create: Use artistic and technological media and expression to communicate personal and objective points of view
Transfer: Artists, viewers, and patrons respond to art from familiar and unfamiliar cultures and assign intended meaning to works of art Transfer: Historical time periods and cultural settings are interpreted in works of art
Significance of Topic:
The PGCs and the GLEs that are touched on in this unit are concepts that support transformation and how transformation is used within the art world. The concept of transformation in relation to self-portraits, marionettes, and masks helps students make better connections with how to communicate a message within their art. Our hope is that with this unit, our students will leave the classroom with a level of depth of the concept of transformation, that will help them in their education in the future and to promote lifelong learning. We hope that our unit will help them better understand successful ways ways to communicate their personal feelings and their views and opinions, within art and their everyday lives.
I think that using your imagination to transform existing forms into original creatures and images is an extremely fascinating idea, and it is a concept that I use within my own work. I am interested in creating imaginary and transformed environments, as well as individuals. I also am interested in some of the current cultural concepts that make references to transformation, that many of the students are interested in as well. I think that this idea encompasses many important ideas about the creative process, that are important to any artist’s creative work, as well as student’s.
For this Population:
We knew that choosing the idea of transformation in relation to marionettes, animals, self-portraits, and masks, would interest the fourth and fifth graders because it caters to a broad range of student interests. When we met this class for the first time and observed them, we realized they were very imaginative, talkative, and interested in books, movies, and ideas that involved transformation. Current culture that the students were very interested in also involved the concept of transformation. Many subjects that popped up were werewolves, vampires, magic, wizards, and zombies. We did not want to focus on these exact references, but thought that they all related under the concept of transformation. Also, right before we were able to start teaching art to the students, they went on a field trip to the mountains. They got to hike and learn all about the area where they lived; the West. We took attendance of the class one morning and asked them what their favorite animals were, and they all were very interested and passionate in the animals they answered our question with. We knew then, that talking about animals would be a very relevant and engaging topic for their students.
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