David loves art. And hates school, or at least there is nothing about school that he likes as much as playing Legos all day or riding around the backyard on his bike or just doing nothing. He’s certainly not alone in that sentiment but he hasn’t quite gotten to the age where he understands that he might not like learning his multiplication tables but he still has to do it. I’m becoming more relaxed in my schooling approach but I’m not relaxed enough yet to give up the multiplication tables.
Still, even if I can’t take away some of what he doesn’t like, I can add in more of what he does like. Which means more art. Even better if the art also relates to other things we are learning. David has been working on memorizing the poem The Tyger by William Blake:
Tyger, tyger burning bright,
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
A few weeks ago he went through and picked out words from the poem he didn’t know and we used that as a vocabulary list. One of the words was symmetry and I thought it would be fun to explore that concept more fully. I remembered the fabulous book Seeing Symmetry by Loren Leedy and got it out of the library again. Leedy’s book covers all kinds of symmetry: vertical, horizontal, and rotational and gives many everyday examples so that kids can easily start to see more examples of symmetry in the world around them.
That might all sound well and good but what about the art? The classic symmetry art project would be a butterfly, but I found something a little different in a google search that looked fun.
I used the instructions from this Prezi presentation. First, we talked about symmetry and asymmetry again. We also talked about geometric shapes vs. organic shapes (which nicely fit in with Ruth’s kindergarten math curriculum). Then we drew robots using more geometric shapes. The goal was to have our robots in an asymmetric pose but to have the details on the robot be symmetrical.
Then we painted the robot using acrylic paint and a dry brush. We used a blue toned gray and then tried to do some shadowing and highlights with a shade and tint of the same blue. After letting the paintings dry, we outlined the details in Sharpie marker and then painted the details using mostly warm colors to contrast with the blue tone.
This one cracks me up, it’s Ruth’s robot. I know it’s blurry (sorry about that) but she put shoes with purple flowers, very red lips and hair with a blue headband on her robot. But, hey, it’s symmetrical!
I’m usually more free with art projects. I tend to believe more in the process than the product. It’s ok of it doesn’t “turn out ok”. It was interesting to me doing this project which parts were difficult for Ruth and David. They had a really hard time painting with a dry brush. I realized it’s because we almost always use watercolor and they are much more use to doing very free wash-technique kind of painting. I think in some ways being a bit stricter about how they did it was good for them. I wouldn’t want every art project to follow a recipe but I think it did have value for teaching them how to follow instructions and teaching them a bit about certain techniques (highlighting/shading, dry brush painting, warm vs. cool colors, mixing paints).
There you have it. An art/vocabulary/math/poetry lesson all rolled up into one. If you care about that kind of thing, it probably meets all sorts of core requirements and makes cross-curriculum connections. Or, you can just say it’s better than doing multiplication tables.