*From the sounds of my last post, I hope you don't think student art making has suffered. Not at all. This
post however? Has taken me months to write.
First off, I love integrating with other subjects. LOVE IT! I love making connections. Dig that "aha" look on the kids’ faces. I feel it adds a rich layer to my teaching, making my lessons more robust. I don't do it all the time, but when I do it, I DO IT. I research our district's curriculum. I align with the standards, use a variety of
vocab, check for understanding, and make sure the
art lesson is a great balance between Art and ...Language Arts, Science, Social
Studies, Math, Music, Etc... And if all the planets are aligned and the tides
are low and the breeze is balmy, I can even collaborate with the Gen. Ed
teacher (Never happens, btw. We try. Never. Happens.).
"Create a Robot that
Does a Chore around the House"
This lesson is actually from my *ahem* college days: a cool lesson on Form and Function, and over the years, it just made sense to add Simple Machines- you've got your Science connection, STEAM connection, engineering connection. This is a great way to teach low relief sculpture (a favorite of mine as I have space issues and cannot house eighty five sculptures in my room). I save cardboard boxes and chop them up, but if you don't have that option, this can be a great collage project.
This particular school year I have dubbed "CLEAN OUT THE CLOSET!" I have been at Donald for fifteen years. I have been gifted with a lot of awesome, expensive-y craft supplies over the years, and I have not been able to use them as quickly as I thought. Such as?
Googly eyes. Pom poms. Feathers. Beads. Wooden
beads. Sequins. Seed beads. Ribbon. Pony beads. And nine miniature hats.
|Just a samplin|
All great stuff, and trust me, when I worked at a school with no budget, would have given my eye teeth for (well, maybe not my teeth. I need those. Who gives away eye teeth these days? And where are the eye teeth even located?). But I admit, these supplies have been sitting around doing nothing for some time. So this project turned into "Found Object Chore Robots Using Simple Machines". A little clunky. But you understand. I just had to pull out the beads and pom poms.
AND THEN, an art teacher friend mentioned Rube Goldberg and I was all like DUH! That's the missing piece! His work connected everything together. Brilliant.
I did this project with third grade, and it took about five-six rotations, from introducing concepts to assessment.
|Where are the levers? The pulleys? Incline plane, anyone?|
Step one: Research, Planning and Sketching
They had to use simple machines where appropriate, so we had a lot of questioning: if the robot dispenses toothpaste, where does it live? On the counter? On the floor? How does it know how hard to squeeze? How does it stay clean and sanitary? What kind of simple machines does it need?
Step two: Building the Base
|Plan your work and work your plan!|
|Those little boxes hold small wooden blocks, brass fasteners and thick, long nails (not a handy woman here) for punching through the cardboard.|
Attaching the cardboard was fun: we used brass brads. I have small wooden blocks, nails and a bunch of brass fasteners. This acts as the screw. Students used the nail to gently push through the cardboard into the wooden block, allowing for a hole and not allowing for
Step three: Painting and the Importance of Craftsmanship
Who doesn't like a sleek, cool robot? It's all about the paint job. We used tempera and metallic paints. The big conservation was about craftsmanship, and it went something like this:
"Pretend you are the President of Target (or, Ikea, or Best Buy, or insert-your- robot-purchasing-store-here) and you want to buy a robot that makes lives better. Would you buy it if the paint job was weak? Things were falling off? Sloppy work? No. No you wouldn't. Make this for the President of Target."
This is where the creativity and imagination really popped, and out came the Found Objects: wire for pulleys,
|Fun use of feathers!|
|Conscious use of beads here.|
|Some kids opted for no add-ons, and preferred to draw the details.|
Since these are relief sculptures, I had the kids display them on a background paper with their Artist Statement (self-reflection piece). This was purely selfish on my part: it made it easier to display in the hallway. Their name, teacher, and objectives are clearly listed, easy peasy. Looks awesome. Done.
|Great 3D elements!|
|Basic Self Reflection sheet|
But then I started thinking
We reviewed the criteria:
- The robot had to perform a specific function
- The robot had to utilize simple machines
- The robot had to exhibit strong craftsmanship
- The robot has to demonstrate 3D elements
- And then
...someone said, "The robot has to be bought by the President of Best Buy!"
Which made me laugh and immediately led to:
Buyers and Sellers Assessment:
Students took turns pretending to be "Buyers and "Sellers". This assessment activity took about 20 minutes, and I was able to introduce our new project the same class period. They were super excited and on board.
After about 10 minutes, they switched groups. I was able to visit every child and ask questions as well, which was helped with my depth of understanding. Because before I talked to kids, to be honest, I had no idea why some of them
|The kids loved this |
These robots are a fun, easy way to integrate Art and Science, teach low relief sculpture, 3D